Do you remember when Facebook was largely a congregation of terrible memes signaling you to “like or share” to avoid some gruesome consequence? As exasperating as that was, something much more ridiculous has begun flooding the walls of my social media pages; that is the minimization of racism, and the historical atrocities associated with it, by (some) white people who are attempting to establish that whites are marginalized and/or the true victims.
These individuals are often seen on tirades concerning the Black Lives Matter movement, Black Entertainment Television, Cam Newton, people who “bring race into things,” and most recently, Beyoncé. Their concerns are that we are forgetting that “white people have problems too,” some of which could be worse than the problems African-Americans may face. They are under the pretense that black people, and other disenfranchised groups, are just not working hard enough to be successful and that if they were more respectful, police officers would not have to kill them. They refuse to acknowledge the systematic racism in our country and they refuse to acknowledge the facts that communicate this systematic racism, and they often bluster about being blamed for everything and the lack of sympathy for their struggles.
I like to chronicle this phenomenon as the New “White Pride” Movement to avoid conflating them with the KKK or neo-Nazis. While there may be some similarities, branding these people as that kind of racist is unfair; their racist views (from my observations) generally seem rooted in ignorance rather than conscious hatred. Furthermore, confronting members of the New White Pride Movement (NWPM) as though they are KKK members will only result in a fight in which a real discussion becomes impossible as does learning anything of value.
Maybe you are asking why this is important. Why does it matter if some people are unaware of the truth about racism in America? Most people likely know by now that America has a long history of racism. We have certainly come a long way, but the belief that racism is insignificant or nonexistent in our country is dangerous because it is still a prominent issue that continues to violate the rights and dignity of many Americans. By declaring that racism is no longer an issue of importance, or believing that we have a problem with reverse racism, you are directly preventing our society from advancing to a more equal state; you stand in the way of human rights.
I probably wouldn’t be writing this if the NWPM was strictly an occasional, oafish Twitter rant, but these beliefs have fluttered their way into the mainstream. Classmates, friends, politicians and news sources have begun spreading this ideology. I suppose, however, that if you are white, the idea that somebody may face discrimination because of race in today’s society may seem foreign or even impossible. The definition of discrimination in itself may be distorted if it is something you don’t experience firsthand. I will admit that when you are part of a majority with power, recognizing your privilege may not be an easy task.
Nonetheless, this does not excuse anyone from seeing the truth. If the testimonies of thousands of Americans citing their experiences with racism are not enough, there are many publicized statistics demonstrating the racism in the US. The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People reports that African-Americans and Hispanics account for 58 percent of our prisoners yet are only a fourth of the US population. They also state that African-Americans account for 12 percent of all drug users in the US, they represent 59 percent of those in a state prison for a drug offense. The NAACP also released a report detailing the efforts of retail employers to keep blacks and Latinos in lower-paid positions.
I have been biting my tongue for a while, but as more videos surface picturing innocent people abused by police officers because of their skin color, as more people compare the Black Panther Party to the KKK and complain that Beyoncé is calling for the death of white people, as more people deny the truth about racism in our country, as more people try to turn themselves into the victims, I have found it increasingly difficult to sit in silence.
Not only is the NWPM standing in the way of progression towards equality, they are being disrespectful and insulting by reducing the plight of true victims of racism. Racism is real and it is detrimental to society. Those who fail to acknowledge the truth need to wake up.