This has actually been something I have been thinking about more in depth recently. Before now, as a black woman, I would have said you can absolutely be racist towards white people. It is the same idea with different colors. But then I was talking to a group of my friends who happened to be white and we were discussing the idea of racism in other countries, namely South Africa, and they were saying that South Africans are incredibly racist against whites. To which I responded, no they absolutely aren’t. Considering what white imperialism did tot hat country it would be impossible to call their anger toward the group of whites who are still there racist. It would be like if a group of green aliens invaded earth, enslaved our people, sold them to another planet, tortured them for generations and made it so only other green aliens could do anything of note on our own planet. Would it be racism to then want to expell the green aliens? Would it be a racial war if we fought against their tyranny? And if we won the war would the difficulty trusting the green aliens after what they did be spurred by race or would it be directly correlated with what they did?
So now I have to wonder, is it racism to hate the people who torture you, or is it a product of racism against people of color that created those feelings in the first place?
It makes me think of hornets. If you and your friend are going hiking, and your friend kicks the hornets nest while you are standing there innocently and then runs away before you’ve even realized what happened, are the hornets racist for stinging the shit out of you? Or is your friend an asshole for kicking the nest and then leaving you to deal with the consequences? It’s sort of the same idea. White people seem intent on repeatedly kicking the shit out of other people of color and then running and hiding to avoid the consequences, leaving other innocent white people who didn’t do anything to deal with the consequences.
It stand to reason though that if I had been paying more attention to my destructive friend and reached out and stopped him /before/ he kicked the hornets nest I wouldn’t have gotten stung. But now that t has been kicked I can’t blame the hornets for stinging me, I can just blame my idiot friend for kicking them int he first place.
I think understanding cause and effect is important if we want to stop racism. Understanding that not doing anything doesn’t make us innocent and that we have a responsibility reach out and try to stop the people around us from doing something terrible if we also don’t want to be seen as terrible as well. Also, white people in general need to accept responsibility for the things that happened and not just expect people to forgive them or trust them because “they aren’t the individuals responsible.” Unfortunately once an idea is created it can’t be uncreated, and for generations white people were the ones to define race and it’s meaning and give different people and different races those limitations in western and South African societies. Just because public opinion has changed on what is acceptable doesn’t mean the past is forgotten and all of those crimes are absolved when there are still so many crimes that go unpunished and still so many people standing there and letting their friends kick the hornets nest right in front of them. I don’t know, I think that some of the backlash is just something they have to endure because what has already happened cant be undone and can’t be forgotten, and sadly the innocent end up paying the price for the guilty. But int he end this reminds all of us, not just white people, but /all/ people what the cost is when we do something truly evil. It can;t be forgotten, it can’t be undone, and if it’s not us it will be our children and their children that pay for it.