By Tyler Bauer
Recently, the New York Times announced its hiring of Sarah Jeong, an accomplished journalist who has written a great deal on technology and related subjects. Almost immediately, some of Jeong's old tweets surfaced. Some (including yours truly) called these tweets racist, while others said Jeong was simply imitating racism. The New York Times issued the following statement regarding its decision to hire Jeong:
Jeong's Tweets Beg the Question: Can White People be Victims of Racism?
The definition of racism is "a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race." So, yes, white people - or any people, for that matter - can be victims of racism.
Some people came to Jeong's defense, claiming that she wasn't actually racist. Instead, Twitter users were just upset because she referred to white people in a rude manner. Isn't referring to a racial group in a rude manner the definition of racism? Twitter user @Lauchlin disagrees:
Another Twitter user, Eugene Gu, had a more dramatic response, claiming that Jeong was being targeted by white supremacists.
Does Power Matter?
Some people argue that, to be a victim of racism, one's race cannot be in power. (How can a race be in power?) Therefore, since most people in positions of power are white, white people cannot be victims of racism.
This belief is ridiculous. To claim that one's race holding power means that members of one's race cannot be victims of racism means that, during the Obama administration, African-Americans could not be victims of racism. After all, the most powerful man in the world - the President of the United States, Barack Obama - was an African-American. Did Obama's presidency eradicate racism against African-Americans? Of course not! Therefore, power can't be a deciding factor when it comes to who can be a victim of racism.
"Reverse Racism" Isn't Real
There is no such thing as "reverse racism." It's just racism. Yes, historically speaking, the most common form of racism came in the form of white people being racist against African-Americans. We all know about slavery, Jim Crow, etc. All of that was terrible, and nobody is disputing that.
Just because a number of white people are (somewhat rightfully) characterized as racists historically, this doesn't mean that they can't be victims of racism themselves. Regardless of what you think of Jeong, racism is racism, regardless of the skin color the racist and the skin color of the victim.