Answering Some Racism 101 Questions
October 30, 2012
Someone has decided to take me up on my standing offer to do educational type stuff.
-Does the term ‘racism’ still apply to discrimination and prejudice between groups of PoC, or are they simply actions that uphold racism?
It still counts as racism, but we usually distinguish it by naming the kind of racism, when it is between poc. Like, when I’m being anti-Black, the accusation is not that I’m racist, but that I’m anti-Black. Likewise, if a Black person were to be anti-Asian, this is what it is usually called. And both would be upholding racism (or, as is usually named in our discussions, upholding whiteness, since this is, ultimately what it means for a poc to be ‘racist’ – upholding whiteness). Racism, as system/institution, is about upholding whiteness (or white supremacy, as I generally prefer).
-Is my assertion that racism=white supremacy how you would view things? Does this apply outside colonial/colonized areas like Turtle Island? (e.g. in Japan, Korea, etc.?)
Yes. Racism is white supremacy. And it applies to the entire globe, since racism is a tool of white colonialism. Ethnic conflicts between various poc cultures/groups/ethnicities are just that, ethnic conflicts. Japan is an interesting example, since it is historically true that they attempted to (and for a brief period succeeded in) creating an empire. And during this colonial empire, they committed all manor of atrocity. However, there is a clear difference in how the wartime attrocities of the Japanese happened vs. the many centuries long colonial efforts of white people. It is only white people who created an entire system predicated on the notion that those they subjugated were not human.
White people created a science of dismissing and invalidating the humanity of certain types of people so that they would feel justified in stealing land, murdering people, enslaving others, etc. For all the many motivations that compelled the Japanese atrocities, I’ve yet to see a case for their motivation being that they did not see Chinese people, Filipin@s, Vietnamese, Laotians, Cambodians, etc. as less than human. They did not do what they did because they viewed their neighbours as non-human. The treatment, indeed, was in part because all those people were not Japenese but this is massively different from creating a system by which only white people are ever considered human.
(additionally, how can we talk about Japanese imperialism without understanding the many ways that it was a response to white colonialism? Like, the fact that their expansion was modeled on white colonialism? how can we also talk about any famous examples of intra-poc/ethnic conflicts in the past 500 years without locating it in a larger history of white colonialism? Answer: we can’t.)
-Do white people who are immigrants, etc. still face racism from other white people? (It seems to me like other terms like ethnocentrism, nationalism, xenophobia, colonialism, etc. might be better.)
My answer to the previous question partially addresses this. This is why racism = white supremacy and why white people can never, ever experience racism. The history is clear. The purpose of racism is clear. White people invented race so that they could strip other people of their humanity, steal their land, exploit their resources, enslave people, commit genocide, etc. Race only, for now and forever, serves white people. Always.
So even today, or at any point in history, white immigrants never experienced racism. End of story. If you look at this link partially discussing how the Irish became white, you’ll see a pattern. White immigrants ascend to the loving bossom of white supremacy by shitting on and oppressing poc. Particularly Black people, if we are discussing it in an american/canadian context.
The thing with white immigrants is that when they face discriminatory experiences it isn’t because they are white. But because they are immigrants. I mean… this is pretty clear. White immigrants like to point to their accents, their in/ability to speak the dominant language, a lack of connections, etc. as to reasons why they faced difficulty or oppression. But this isn’t unique to white immigrants. And it doesn’t happen to them because they are white.
Contrast with, say a third, fourth, etc generation Chinese person in canada… who will, regardless of their family having been here for a hundred years, still be asked if they speak english or complimented on their ability to speak it. Who, when saying they are from canada will be repeatedly asked, “no, really, where are you from.” All a white immigrant has to do to avoid this and assimilate is speak accentless english. And then, bam, a world of privilege opens up to them. And this is a world of privilege that same 4th generation Chinese person will never be able to access.
Why? Because of racism.