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UBC Whether You Agree on Reverse Racism Discussion

UBC Whether You Agree on Reverse Racism Discussion


The Alberta Civil Liberties Association’s perspective argues that reverse racism is a myth and highlights the importance of distinguishing between racial prejudice and racism. According to this viewpoint, while racial prejudice, or stereotypes and discriminatory attitudes based on assumptions about race, can exist towards white people, it does not constitute racism because racism involves a systemic relationship of power. In Canada, it is asserted that white people hold cultural power due to historical factors rooted in colonialism, which continue to privilege whiteness.

This argument emphasizes that racism involves acts of discrimination and oppression backed by power, which white people are seen as having in Canadian society. Therefore, claims of reverse racism are viewed as problematic because they overlook the power dynamics at play. Affirmative action programs, often cited in discussions of reverse racism, are portrayed as efforts to address institutionalized racism rather than privileging people of color. While expressions of racial prejudice against white individuals are acknowledged as harmful, they are considered different from racism due to the power structures in place.

In response to this perspective, it is important to recognize that discussions of racism and reverse racism are complex and context-dependent. The concept of reverse racism can be contentious because it raises questions about power dynamics, historical injustices, and affirmative action policies. While the argument presented by the Alberta Civil Liberties Association focuses on the power element of racism, some may argue that individual instances of racial prejudice can still have real and negative consequences for those targeted. Ultimately, the understanding of reverse racism may vary depending on one’s perspective and experiences, and it is important to engage in open and respectful dialogue to address these issues effectively.

UBC Whether You Agree on Reverse Racism Discussion




Read the article from the Alberta Civil Liberties Association, below, then in 2-3 paragraphs, respond to the following prompt:

Do you agree that reverse racism is a myth or do you think that, in some cases, white people can be victims of reverse racism? In your response, you must recognize the definition of racism as opposed to racial prejudice.

Reverse Racism is a Myth

Assumptions and stereotypes about white people are examples of racial prejudice, not racism. Racial prejudice refers to a set of discriminatory or derogatory attitudes based on assumptions deriving from perceptions about race and/or skin colour. Thus, racial prejudice can indeed be directed at white people (e.g., white people can’t dance) but is not considered racism because of the systemic relationship of power.
 When backed with power, prejudice results in acts of discrimination and oppression against groups or individuals. In Canada, white people hold this cultural power due to Eurocentric modes of thinking, rooted in colonialism, that continue to reproduce and privilege whiteness. (See our definition of Whiteness)

Ricky Sherover-Marcuse asserts that “we should not confuse the occasional mistreatment experienced by whites at the hands of people of color with the systematic and institutionalized mistreatment experienced by people of color at the hands of whites” (“A Working Definition of Racism,” p. 2). While expressions of racial prejudice directed at white people may hurt the white person/people individually or personally, and are never to be condoned, they do not have the power or authority to affect the white person’s social/economic/political location and privileges. (See our definition of White Privilege/White-Skin Privilege)

Reverse racism is a myth because it tries to ignore the fundamental question of who holds more power/privilege between the individuals/groups involved; the myth of reverse racism assumes that racism occurs on a so-called level playing field. For example, Ricky-Sherover-Marcuse observes that claims to reverse racism are often made in regards to affirmative action programs. Zeba Blay explains how white people often “believe deserving white students are discriminated against while academically unqualified students are given highly coveted college or company positions ― just because they happen to tick the “ethnic minority” box” (article cited below). Sherover-Marcuse explains how, in actuality,”[a]ffirmative action programs are attempts to repair the results of institutionalized racism by setting guidelines and establishing procedures for finding qualified applicants from all segments of the population” (“A Working Definition of Racism,” p. 2). In other words, these programs do not privilege people of colour but help to ensure that they are given equal consideration and opportunities.

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