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Changing the Definition of Racism

Updated on December 14, 2015
Carlina Sandusky profile image

Carlina is a nineteen year old college student. She was born & raised in Tampa, Florida. Carlina is majoring in Psychiatry. She loves music,

Diversity signifies equality.

Changing the Definition of Racism

What is racism?

Some people would say that racism is characterized by intolerance or discrimination to a minority group or race. Others would argue that racism is defined as having the confidence that one other race, (particularly their own), is superior to another race. The definition of racism varies greatly, depending on who you ask. I believe that any prejudice towards a certain race or ethnicity is racism.

Heidi's Story

Because some people define racism exclusively as intolerance of minority groups, any other prejudice to “majority races” would not be considered racism, or would even be considered “reverse racism”. I believe any prejudice towards a certain race is racism. Incidentally, people often hear of ethnic groups not feeling proud of their race, until some years after they experience prejudice. For instance, a young, black woman of Haitian descent, called Heidi, was picked on when she was in high school, because of her skin color. After all the belittlement and bruises she acquired, it did not take long for her to believe the insults of her tormentors. Heidi became ashamed of her heritage. Eventually, the bullying died down, Heidi changed schools, and years went by. Yet she still resented the white kids that tripped her down the stairs, and beat her up in the locker room. She could still feel the blood and tears dripping down her face. She could still hear her screams and the bullies’ laughter. They could still smell her fear from a mile away. It wasn’t until Heidi was in her freshman year of junior college, in which she first felt proud of her Haitian background. Heidi joined the Haitian Culture Club at her school, and had no idea what to expect. The after-school club was nothing like she had ever experienced before; unconditional friendship accepted her with open arms. Heidi has never been happier. Incidentally, it would be not be accurate if someone were to refer to Heidi as "African-American". Technically, it would not be politically correct.


Now, I’m sure there are millions of stories of Blacks, Native-Americans, Hispanics, and Asians just like Heidi’s out there. However, with all due respect, when is the last time you ever heard of a white person say that they feel proud to be who they are? The white people of our generation are almost always blamed for the oppression and prejudice of their ancestors. For example, in 1492, when Christopher Columbus discovered “The New World”, (which wasn’t very new, considering that the Native Americans were there first, and that he wasn’t the first explorer to travel to North America), Columbus, among other Americans, openly exploited and degraded the indigenous people. Some white peoples’ ancestors also supported segregation in the 1960’s, and slavery in the 1600’s. Additionally, there was the Holocaust, led by a white, German man. However, white slaves actually outnumbered black slaves in the 1600’s, and the Irish were heavily discriminated and oppressed against in the 1930’s. In other words, white people’s ancestors have done a lot of damage in history. Likewise, Blacks, Arabs, Asians, and the Spaniards’ ancestors have also done a lot of damage in history. Basically, every single race and ethnicity have oppressed some race in some way or another. But how can the white people of our generation possibly be held responsible for the actions of their ancestors? If we were to hold the whites accountable for slavery and other wrongdoings of their ancestors, we would also have to hold all other races accountable for their ancestors’ choices. If we were to do that, this world would not only be divided, but it would be completely chaotic. If a Black, Hispanic, or Asian man can be proud of his heritage, regardless of any past wars or oppression, than why can’t white people also be proud of their heritage?

Does "White Privilege" really exist?

It is also a common misconception that some people have something called “White Privilege.” White Privilege is the idea that a certain race, (white people in particular), is “privileged”, and therefore exempt from being discriminated against, or that actual prejudice towards that said person or people, does not “count”, or would not be classified as racism. Perhaps due to white people not being segregated in the 1960’s, some people consider white people privileged. The people who hold this belief, have most likely misunderstood or overlooked the definition of “privilege”. Privilege is defined as one person, or a group of people having an unfair advantage in society. In other words, privilege could be considered having college paid for by your parents, or not working in high school to support your family, or living in a safe neighborhood, or not being bullied in school, or not being discriminated against for being gay, or being born into wealth, or not having a disability. The definition of “privilege” is colorblind. Anyone of any race can have those things happen or not happen to them. In essence, anyone can be privileged, depending on the circumstances life throws at them.

Let's keep working toward equality.

Everyone’s definition of racism differs greatly, depending on who you talk to. My own personal definition of racism is any discrimination, hatred, or prejudice towards any entire race or ethnicity. My objective is not change or alter your beliefs, but instead to enlighten your perspective. Nevertheless, I believe we should all keep working toward mutual tolerance and acceptance of all races.

What do you think?

What is your opinion on "reverse racism"?

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© 2015 Carlina Sandusky


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