Outcry on Overheard: Generalizing that all white people are racist is reductive, harmful

Credit: Qingyi Dong/ Credit: Qingyi Dong/
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A few weeks ago, I took a stand on reverse racism in dating preferences and the criticism that a number of people receive when expressing alternative opinions on most college campuses. In response, my article was cited in not one but two articles in The Tartan. I am happy to open up a debate and value the opinions shared, and there were a number of topics that I think are worth addressing in this week’s Outcry on Overheard.

In her article, “Racial dating preferences are racist, reduce entire groups to race,” Ruth Scherr described my original article in a way that made it sound like bigotry brewed from a “privileged” white man who grew up in Trump country. She refers to my beliefs as my “personal bigotry” and even states, “Wanting respect for the idea that racial preferences aren’t racist is like wanting respect for the belief that the earth is flat.” The fact that Scherr brings flat Earthers like Dr. Shaquille O’Neal, who stated last month, “So, listen, I drive from coast to coast, and this s*** is flat to me,” into this argument is offensive.

This is closed-minded dialog that will spell the end of America if we allow it to persist. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t condone racism. I will do all that I can to fight it when a true act of racism occurs. I am not convinced that racial dating preferences are a true act of racism, and I am not convinced that calling someone a bigot for having them brings forth a productive argument.

If marginalizing races in dating preferences is racism, is marginalizing sexes in dating preferences sexism? Does the fact that I’m only attracted to women make me sexist against men? Does the fact that a homosexual is only attracted to their own sex make them sexist towards the opposite sex? No, this would be an absurd statement to make and goes against the laws of nature. We can’t control our sexual preferences. People are attracted to various traits, as I stated in my previous article, and this attraction is rooted in a subconscious level.

In “White people must acknowledge inherent racism, privilege,” Lydia Green states that, “A white person with a ‘thing for Asian chicks’ may ostensibly be attracted to Asian women because of their physical characteristics, but the why of it doesn’t change the fact that this type of fetishism adds to the oppression of Asian women.” What Green fails to state is the fact that racial dating preferences are a two-way street, and as I stated in my original article, it’s not just white people having them. If you are going to call out racial dating preferences, call out all races.

Green calls it our duty as white “racists” to “invite people of color into white spaces of authority with open arms.” She states, “We must appreciate everything that people of color do for us and for themselves” and “make them feel cared about.” In my opinion, differential treatment of people based on skin color is an impediment to ending racism. In order to end racism, we must create an environment where everyone is welcome and treated equally and fairly and skin color has no bearing on the way we treat others.
Anyone qualified should be welcome in “spaces of authority with open arms.” We should acknowledge that some people have it harder than others and do all that we can to fight racism, but calling out an entire race because society contains racial barriers is not the answer to solving the problem. This simply marginalizes people further and, in my opinion, is just as racist as the barriers themselves.

In the process of destroying racism in the modern era, we must prevent ourselves from turning our world into an inauthentic safe space. Isolating yourself from the noise does not take it away. Scherr states, “whether or not this university is in a political bubble doesn’t matter.” If we refer to the 2016 election, we can see just how much it matters that this university is a political bubble. Walking through campus last fall, Clinton appeared to have the election by a long shot. On election night, we realized just how much of a bubble we created around ourselves when the nation selected the man that we were too busy meme-ing and insulting to draw attention towards.

Regardless of whether or not you support him, Trump’s victory brings to the forefront many of the issues currently facing this nation. People are sick of being censored by political correctness. They are tired of being afraid of insulting someone with every statement they make, and they chose to express this by electing the man who was the flaming dumpster during election season. While I acknowledge that racism is a reality, and I oppose the statements made by Trump, why are we wasting our energy calling out things that aren’t racist until we tire the nation out of being politically correct?

I find it ironic that the people who decry racism the loudest often create some of the most racist messages. Are all white people really privileged? I’ll acknowledge that based on my background, I have some privilege that others do not. I personally believe that everyone in this university has.

However, to say that a poor, white teenager overdosing on heroin in a dying coal town is more privileged than a minority at a top tier university with a bright road ahead is just utterly ridiculous. In my opinion, your background — which is often tied to race but does not always have a one-to-one correspondence — defines your privilege more than skin color.

We must create a world devoid of racism, but crying wolf is not the solution. Generalizing an entire race as racist or denouncing sexual preferences as racist are counterproductive to the cause of destroying racism and only throw gasoline on the fire.As members of the Carnegie Mellon community, we all carry a certain amount of privilege. We all have a duty to end racism, to call out any case of it which we see clearly happening, and to ensure that skin color does not limit opportunities.
However, racism is a two-way highway. We can’t simply make assumptions about people based on their skin color (majority or minority), and we need to stop acting like we know what people have been through just because of their appearance.