All whites are racist

On Facebook you’ve probably seen floating around a list of how Trump is making America great again. The list is kind of tongue-in-cheek, and asserts that the discontent for Trump will lead people to being more politically active. I did take issue with several of the points, however, and left this comment when a connection “shared” it:

A lot of these points are misrepresentations. There are still massive misconceptions to how the Federal government works. Racism isn’t dead, but it’s level is extremely exaggerated to where “all white people are racist”. The ACA is a lot more than insurance. People still don’t understand the totality of how Hitler rose to power, only bullet points made by people with agendas. Many words have completely lost their meaning and punch from overuse and misdefinition.

Another connection to that connection challenged me:

I’m curious where you are reading that “all white people are racist” because I haven’t heard anybody making that statement.

After a couple additional comments, I offered to provide references when I had a chance, and this also gives me a chance to determine just how widespread that idea has become. Or at least gain an idea since I’m not about to comb through all of Google’s search results.

I first encountered the “All whites are racist” sentiment several years ago, though I can’t recall where. At that time, one could rightly call it “fringe” and “radical”. But it was gaining traction even then. My first encounter with that came not long after my first encounters with identity politics within atheist circles, the zenith of which can be traced back to “Elevatorgate”.

So how widespread is the belief that all whites are racist? Let’s start with a Google search of the phrase “all whites are racist” (without quotes). Google Trends shows interest peaked in mid-October last year, around the same time that a student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison started a shop on Etsy to sell hoodies, one of which had the phrase “All White People Are Racist”.

I’ll limit what I provide here to just the United States.

On October 14, KFOR-4, the NBC affiliate out of Oklahoma City published an article in which a Norman, OK, teacher said during a lecture “To be white is to be racist, period.” The incident was picked up by other media sources around the country.

On June 8, 2016, United Church of Christ published an article on “white privilege” which said of whites, “Recognize that you’re still racist. No matter what.” Around that same time, Media For Justice posted an article also saying, plainly, “All whites are racist.

At Pomona College in Claremont, California, a poster was raised called “How to be a White Ally” that said, “Understand that you are white, so it is inevitable that you have unconsciously learned racism. Your unearned advantage must be acknowledged and your racism unlearned.”

Going back further to January 2015, AlterNet also published an article with the blatant headline, “Yes, All White People Are Racists — Now Let’s Do Something About It“. In March 2015, a Michigan blog called “State of Opportunity” wrote an article with the headline “Why all white people are racist, but can’t handle being called racist: the theory or white fragility“. It was espoused by a State Senator in Nebraska. Jennifer Morber of Quartz said that science says whites are “probably racist”.

And it’s even graced the New York Times. So the idea is definitely widespread, and likely gaining further ground.

So what is going on behind all of this? Why are all whites suddenly being labeled “racists”, even if individual whites have never had a racist thought to their recollection?

It comes in part from racism being redefined by the hard left. The dictionary defines racism two ways. The first evokes images of the KKK and Nazi Germany: “hatred or intolerance of another race or races”. The second is a little more elaborate:

a belief or doctrine that inherent differences among the various human racial groups determine cultural or individual achievement, usually involving the idea that one’s own race is superior and has the right to dominate others or that a particular racial group is inferior to the others.

But that’s not how it’s being used anymore. Instead bigotry in general is being defined as “prejudice plus power”. The “power” component is what is key. And that definition is being used to shelter minorities and women from accusations of racism and sexism, respectively. That women by definition cannot be sexist due to “patriarchy”, and blacks cannot be racist by definition because of… slavery and segregation.

On YouTube, Roaming Millennial has a good overview and rebuttal to that concept:

Speaking of YouTube, that is easily where the idea that all whites are racist is gaining the greatest amount of ground. Indeed one of the more recent examples was with MTV and their video “Dear White Guys” (since taken down, mirror available here), in which one actor says quite clearly, “And just because you have black friends doesn’t mean you’re not racist. You can be racist with black friends!” Ugh…

But the idea isn’t new. And according to the National Association of Scholars, the twin ideas of “all whites are racist” and “only whites can be racist” can be traced to the University of Delaware in 2007, but the idea of explicitly excluding blacks from the definition of racism goes back further.

So I think that’s all I really need to show here. I think I’ve established that the idea is taken seriously by a not-insignificant number of people.