Why black people get to say things white people get called “racist” for

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I dread reading the comments section on a black-themed video or post these days. Yet, my love of comment reading propels me to click on “Comments” anyways. *sigh* When will I learn?

Without fail, there are tons of offended white people crying racism every time. It really makes me lose faith in white people ever getting it.

“But if there was a video on sacrifices white parents made for their kids, it’d be racist.”

A snapshot of disheartening comments representing a popular sentiment on a video Buzzfeed put up called “Children From Black Families Reveal Sacrifices Their Parents Made.”

A snapshot of disheartening comments representing a popular sentiment on a video Buzzfeed put up called “Children From Black Families Reveal Sacrifices Their Parents Made.”

“If there was a ‘Whitetown,’ we’d be called racists!”

Key&Peele did a comedy skit called “Negrotown” that depicted a fictional all-black town free of racism and discrimination. Some commenters noted that a “Whitetown” would be racist. There are hundreds of “Whitetowns” already in existence across America and the world. Besides, the point was that black people wouldn’t have to deal with the bullshit of racism. What would be the point in a Whitetown skit?

Key&Peele did a comedy skit called “Negrotown” that depicted a fictional all-black town free of racism and discrimination. Some commenters noted that a “Whitetown” would be racist.
There are hundreds of “Whitetowns” already in existence across America and the world. Besides, the point was that black people wouldn’t have to deal with the bullshit of racism. What would be the point in a Whitetown skit?

It’s not like they’re wrong. But they’re not right, either.

I’m going to focus specifically on some things that black people get away with saying, but white people cannot. A lot of black people say offensive things about white people openly and candidly all the time. White people are so annoying and ignorant. White people are so dumb lol.

Let a white person tweet, “Black people are so dumb lol” and all hell would break loose. Thousands of black people would attack him and he could even lose his job! A white person could say, “Black people are just not attractive,” and she’d definitely be called racist. But in the reverse situation, not so much. How is that fair?

It’s not fair. But you know what’s also really not fair? Racism.

And whaddaya know? Racism is also the very reason why black people get to say offensive things openly and create black-centered media and not be racist at all. Let me be clear. Racism against black people, that is.

It’s not you per se that says black people aren’t beautiful. It’s society that says black people aren’t beautiful. We’re consistently underrepresented in Hollywood. We have to straighten our nappy, black hair to assimilate into American culture. Dark skin? Curvaceous bodies? Gross!

It’s not because little old you thinks black people aren’t smart. It’s the American government. It’s the education system that refused to let black people into their schools, forcing them to start their own. It’s jobs that don’t choose to hire black people even if they’re as qualified as a white person.

It’s that history of racism that still lingers.

I could say white people aren’t beautiful, but then you’d turn on your TV and see a bunch of white faces dominating every channel. You’d walk out your house and see magazine covers in the store full of pale faces. My words simply wouldn’t be reinforced by racism.

Black people can’t be racist

Let’s say Tommy the old black janitor with his grey beard comes shuffling past with his broom and spits when you walk past and mutters, “I hate white people!” under his breath.

“That’s racism/reverse racism!” You scream. Even in that extreme example, that’s not racism. It’s prejudice. And really rude. Why not?

They’re just words. Old Tommy can’t keep you from getting a loan or a house or a job or keep you out of the government or get away with murder because he doesn’t have any real power.

“Racism should never have happened and so you don’t get a cookie for reducing it.”

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Americanah

All he can do is carry his hatred for white people and let it burn and smolder deep inside his heart. The government and American society doesn’t back up Tommy’s claims because the system is racist. Against black people. Not white people.

Black people can’t be racist because we don’t hold any power in the United States. “The Man” rules the world. Racism = prejudice + power. And through laws, government-sanctioned murders, and violence, The Man puts prejudice into practice, creating racism.

That’s why you often hear people say that racism describes a system or the term “systemic racism.” It describes a system that gives black people longer prison sentences for the same crime a white person commits. This system arrests black people for drug possession more than 3 times as often as whites although they use drugs at the same rate. It’s a system that creates poorly funded schools for people of color. It criminalizes our black youth at a very young age, not even rewarding them innocence in death.

Talking smack is not racism or reverse racism

Another point: someone not liking you and making a rude joke, sometimes called “talking smack,” is not the same as racism.

My mom says rude things to me every now and then, but since we’re the same race and sex, I can’t cry racism or sexism. Ageism? Socioeconomic discrimination, maybe? (I’m poor.) I just have to chalk it up to her being an asshole.

Similarly, when a black person says something wild like “white people smell like wet dogs,” that’s not racist. What it is is very rude and a little prejudiced. (Of course it’s inaccurate, too.)

And honestly, all races make fun of each other like that. I feel like black people are just more vocal about it. C’mon, when you get together with your family or friends of the same race y’all are bound to say some things that you just wouldn’t say in public, things that another group might take offense to. We all do it!

Once an old Vietnamese lady who did my eyebrows joked with me about black hair. She was surprised that I had so much hair because “you know black people don’t have much hair” she said. Pretty bold of her, huh? I could just picture her sitting at the dinner table with her family, going in on black folks.

Do I think she’s racist? No. A little ignorant and prejudiced, maybe. I was a little offended by it because I just don’t think it’s true. But you know what? A wise woman once told me that if it doesn’t apply to you, let it roll off your back.

So roll off it did.

Now I hope you understand just a little bit better why black people have certain “freedoms” in regards to speech that white people don’t. It’s not our fault. It’s racism’s. Maybe that’s just one more reason why we should work together to eradicate it. *shrugs*

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