A right-wing meme kicking around the internet for years about reverse racism is back in a new iteration, this time from England. In other words, the writer from the country that invaded, colonized and subjugated more people than any empire in history is peeved that he is being “crushed” by reverse racism. Tell me this isn’t a joke.

The risible email, forwarded to me by two different friends of questionable judgement — they do, after all, claim me as a friend — goes something like this: You can have a Black History Month but if we have a White History Month you’d call it racist.

MartyMoore.jpg

MARTY MOORE

Don’t you get it? History is already white. I know it’s changed since I was in school, but millions of Americans — and Brits — grew up never encountering black history in a classroom. Adding an American flavor to the controversy, you have cranky-cons complaining about Gay Pride parades, Hispanic heritage festivals, women’s rights marches and Muslim Friday prayer services.

These are not “reverse racist” activities but rather necessary expressions of solidarity in the face of overwhelming ethno-European, heterosexual, Christian, male preeminence by creating spaces for themselves where those men aren’t in control. And while women aren’t a minority, they sure don’t have the same economic, political and social clout as do white men who don’t need celebrations and parades for self-identification.

Remember, these examples of unity are nothing new. Some of the country’s celebrations sprang from the same need for minority identity by the Irish, Italians and Germans in the 19th century: St. Patrick’s Day, Columbus Day and Oktoberfest.

The email goes on about name-calling in that racial minorities can call whites derogatory names but if whites do it, they’re called racists. Oh, poor guy, did someone make you cry? And from his griping and the fact that he included all kinds of disparaging names for blacks, one could suspect he has used some of them himself from time to time.

And, of course, there’s the strained allegation of black-on-white crime as proof of massive racially motivated hate crimes. It’s not true. According to the FBI’s most recent, 2011, study on homicides, 83 percent of white murder victims were killed by fellow whites, while only 14 percent were murdered by blacks; the reverse stats being similar.

He finishes with: “Being proud to be white!” in all caps. “It’s not a crime, yet... but it’s getting very close!” Yeah, right.

It’s true: White people can experience prejudice from blacks and other non-whites, and some black people can have ignorant, backwards ideas about white people. No one is trying to deny that. But racism is far more complex. It implies destructive institutional practices that alter rights and privileges and not simply characterize individual or group biases. Blacks aren’t in any position to do that.

Look, white people have not been enslaved, colonized or forced to segregate. They do not face housing or job discrimination, police brutality, inadequate schools, poverty or incarceration on the scale that black people do, some of which unfortunately they bring on themselves. But look at where they start from after decades of slavery and Jim Crow and the resultant underrepresentation of people of color across the board.

Rather than acknowledging the realities of how people of color deal with racism, some whites, like the email writer, do mental cartwheels to cling to a narrative of victimhood to deny the idea that they are privileged.

One of my friends was particularly upset by what he feels is the disproportionate number of black faces in media, advertising and Hollywood. He is missing the point that for the most part white producers are making those selections and that blacks watch TV, buy stuff and go to the movies also. But also, did he forget the whole #OscarSoWhite controversy of the previous two years noting the imbalance of opportunity on both sides of the camera by overlooking some outstanding persons of color in selecting Academy Awards recipients?

The best riposte to all this –on all sides – is from former Republican U.S. Sen. Alan Simpson’s eulogy at George Bush’s funeral: “Hatred corrodes the container it’s carried in.”

A right-wing meme kicking around the internet for years about reverse racism is back in a new iteration, this time from England. In other words, the writer from the country that invaded, colonized and subjugated more people than any empire in history is peeved that he is being “crushed” by reverse racism. Tell me this isn’t a joke.

The risible email, forwarded to me by two different friends of questionable judgement — they do, after all, claim me as a friend — goes something like this: You can have a Black History Month but if we have a White History Month you’d call it racist.

Don’t you get it? History is already white. I know it’s changed since I was in school, but millions of Americans — and Brits — grew up never encountering black history in a classroom. Adding an American flavor to the controversy, you have cranky-cons complaining about Gay Pride parades, Hispanic heritage festivals, women’s rights marches and Muslim Friday prayer services.

These are not “reverse racist” activities but rather necessary expressions of solidarity in the face of overwhelming ethno-European, heterosexual, Christian, male preeminence by creating spaces for themselves where those men aren’t in control. And while women aren’t a minority, they sure don’t have the same economic, political and social clout as do white men who don’t need celebrations and parades for self-identification.

Remember, these examples of unity are nothing new. Some of the country’s celebrations sprang from the same need for minority identity by the Irish, Italians and Germans in the 19th century: St. Patrick’s Day, Columbus Day and Oktoberfest.

The email goes on about name-calling in that racial minorities can call whites derogatory names but if whites do it, they’re called racists. Oh, poor guy, did someone make you cry? And from his griping and the fact that he included all kinds of disparaging names for blacks, one could suspect he has used some of them himself from time to time.

And, of course, there’s the strained allegation of black-on-white crime as proof of massive racially motivated hate crimes. It’s not true. According to the FBI’s most recent, 2011, study on homicides, 83 percent of white murder victims were killed by fellow whites, while only 14 percent were murdered by blacks; the reverse stats being similar.

He finishes with: “Being proud to be white!” in all caps. “It’s not a crime, yet... but it’s getting very close!” Yeah, right.

It’s true: White people can experience prejudice from blacks and other non-whites, and some black people can have ignorant, backwards ideas about white people. No one is trying to deny that. But racism is far more complex. It implies destructive institutional practices that alter rights and privileges and not simply characterize individual or group biases. Blacks aren’t in any position to do that.

Look, white people have not been enslaved, colonized or forced to segregate. They do not face housing or job discrimination, police brutality, inadequate schools, poverty or incarceration on the scale that black people do, some of which unfortunately they bring on themselves. But look at where they start from after decades of slavery and Jim Crow and the resultant underrepresentation of people of color across the board.

Rather than acknowledging the realities of how people of color deal with racism, some whites, like the email writer, do mental cartwheels to cling to a narrative of victimhood to deny the idea that they are privileged.

One of my friends was particularly upset by what he feels is the disproportionate number of black faces in media, advertising and Hollywood. He is missing the point that for the most part white producers are making those selections and that blacks watch TV, buy stuff and go to the movies also. But also, did he forget the whole #OscarSoWhite controversy of the previous two years noting the imbalance of opportunity on both sides of the camera by overlooking some outstanding persons of color in selecting Academy Awards recipients?

The best riposte to all this –on all sides – is from former Republican U.S. Sen. Alan Simpson’s eulogy at George Bush’s funeral: “Hatred corrodes the container it’s carried in.”