The following post comes from a writer over at AOL Black Voices who calls himself JYaleman.
It's his response to this question: "Can only white people be racist?"
"First of all, we have to understand a few things to answer this question correctly. Race (racism) is a late 19th century early 20th century western european construct. It was created for socio-political reasons in order to control. It stemmed from the silly study based on phenotypes, i.e., the size and shapes of heads. Europeans used this to justify white supremacy. They also used it to divide and conquer in the colonies. The warring in Rwanda to this day is due to purposeful race baiting of the Dutch when they took over there more than 100 years ago. They told the Tutsis and the Hutus that this one was more superior than the next because this one had this kind of nose and shape of the head, etc. They fell for it and hence the ethnic genocide of today. Old biases are hard to break.
That being said, racism only matters when it is white people who are the racists because they are the ones who have historically had the power. Others who have no power cannot be racists because they are devoid of the power to affect another's collective future. When I use the word power, think Karl Marx. Marx defined power of a people as being able to actually sit at the table to decide one's own destiny.... "
Okay, JYaleman makes some interesting points by connecting racism to colonialism, control and power. His definition is similar to Marriam Webster's: "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."
This argument has raged forever here in A-merry-ca. If you are black you do not believe that people of color can be guilty of racism. If you are white, on the other hand, you absolutely believe that they can.
Now here is my question: If you believe JYaleman's definition of racism, aren't you also agreeing with most white people when they say that we are just as capable of being racist as they are? If it's about control and power and a black person happens to be in a position of power, wouldn't it be possible for him/her to use their position to hold back a white person, an Asian person or whatever because of their race? And if and when blacks gain real power, ("deciding ones destiny") will that be the end of racism as we know it? All those former colonies are now being led by black people, and people in those countries are still being treated like shit. Poor people are still the victims of classism, and some of the black people who become powerful use their power to do the wrong things.
Personally, I think that being a house Negro ( a Negro who uses his position of power to hurt others and only benefit himself) is just as abominable as being a racist. In fact, he might be worse, because we expect more from him.
So this is what I struggle with. Not whether only white people are capable of being "racist" in the strictest definition of the word, but whether the person in power (be they black or white) uses their power to hurt others.