Lately, I have been reading a lot of comments on social media claiming that “a minority group can’t be racist”. Many people quote lines similar to “Black people can absolutely be prejudiced. But they have not held the power in this country to actually systemically oppress a white person “(1).
This is an incorrect statement. People seem to be confusing the parent definition with the subset definition.
If you were to say institutional and systemic racism are almost impossible for blacks to perpetrate then you would be correct.
But by definition, a minority can be racist.
1 a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race
2: racial prejudice or discrimination (2).
Prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against someone of a different race based on the belief that one’s own race is superior (3).
The belief that some races are better than others, or the unfair treatment of someone because of his or her race (4).
Racism is a form of discrimination. To discriminate you must have some type of prejudice. Prejudice is a preconceived opinion that is not based on reason, facts, actual experience, or evidence.
Racism has many subset definitions to avoid a semantic dispute. To even have a semantic dispute, the context must be confusing. The term “it’s just semantics” was coined because although semantics are important in many cases, people often try to create one unnecessarily to cause a trivial argument.
Stretching a definition of a word can be dangerous. Coined as being one of the worst Supreme Court decisions of all time did just that in Dred Scott v. Sandford when the Court declared that the rights of slave owners were constitutionally protected by the Fifth Amendment because slaves were categorized as property, not people (5).
(1)Blaque, K. (2016). Can Black People Be Racist?. Everyday Feminism. Retrieved 15 July 2016, from http://everydayfeminism.com/2016/01/can-black-people-be-racist/
(2)Definition of RACISM. (2016).Merriam-webster.com. Retrieved 16 July 2016, from http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/racism
(3) Racism: definition of racism in Oxford dictionary (American English) (US). (2016). Oxforddictionaries.com. Retrieved 16 July 2016, from http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/us/definition/american_english/racism
(4) Dictionary, r. (2016). racism Definition in the Cambridge English Dictionary.Dictionary.cambridge.org. Retrieved 16 July 2016, from http://dictionary.cambridge.org/us/dictionary/english/racism
(5) The Supreme Court . The First Hundred Years . Landmark Cases . Dred Scott v. Sandford (1857) | PBS. (2016). Pbs.org. Retrieved 16 July 2016, from http://www.pbs.org/wnet/supremecourt/antebellum/landmark_dred.html