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Can black people be racist?

Each week we ask two writers with contrasting opinions to debate the question…


AMMA GERMANOTTA RIAZ
NO!

RACISM IS about prejudice and power. It includes the ability to access resources, being able to control it and decide who is restricted from it. It is whiteness (not blackness), which has formed a globalised power structure (this doesn’t have to be material resources.) It therefore becomes redundant to say a black person is racist because while they can be bigoted and ignorant, they lack power.

Moreover, it is not black people who created racial categories. White people enjoy higher-paying jobs, better educational outcomes; have lower rates of unemployment because they don’t suffer racism and prejudice.

They live longer lives because of lower rates of poverty and better access to healthcare, they live in better homes…the list goes on.

Literature and the arts, which are white-normative) imposes a white viewpoint at the expense of ignoring the global non-white experience, but still shapes black people’s lives.

Black Nationalism and Afrocentricism are a reaction to white supremacy. Even the expulsion of Ugandan Asians by Idi Amin in 1958 was a reaction to white supremacy because Indians were considered superior to black people according to a racial hierarchy created by white aristocracy.

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GLEN CHISHOLM
YES!

THE DICTIONARY definition of racism is: ‘Racism: (n) The belief that all members of each race possess characteristics, abilities specific to that race, especially so as to distinguish it as inferior or superior to another race or races.’

Now, I know racism is much deeper and more complex than a simple dictionary definition. I know that racism has a history based on systemic structure and racial hierarchies. How can a race that is oppressed and face such prejudice be guilty of racism? Being black, I’ve faced racism my whole life and sadly it does happen to some extent among black people. I have witnessed it.

I’ve seen black people discriminate against someone because of the colour of their skin. I’ve heard derogatory comments about the white partner of a black person. I’ve heard derogatory comments about Asian people from black people, and vice versa. Black people, like everyone else, can be prejudiced and bigoted. The fact that these comments are being made and someone is facing prejudice because of their skin colour or race makes it such. What is this if not racism? How else can these examples be defined?

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Our community speaks with many voices. Each week we bring you opposing views on a topical issue affecting black people. The arguments are crafted by the talented pool of writers from Media Diversified (www.mediadiversified.org), which aims to encourage greater diversity in the British media. What do you think? Join the debate.

* Compiled by Maurice Mcleod

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