Can minorities be considered "racist"?

This is a discussion thread · 9 replies
1 2
Guest:
According to dictionary.com, racism is defined as "the prejudice that members of one race are intrinsically superior to members of other races:. Thus, since white people in the U.S. are considered "superior" and other ethnicities may be considered "minorities," can minorities be racist since the definition states that racism is the prejudice that members of one race are superior to those of another race (whites superior to monirities)?
I disagree with your interpretation of the definition of racism.

How can you say that white people are considered superior? By whom? By some white people yes, the racist ones as that is the definition of racism, but certainly not by all and I would be surprised if it were even most. The way you phrase this - Thus, since white people blah blah' is to present this as a solid piece of logic, but it is not.

You can say Thus, since water is wet I will get wet in the rain' but you can't say 'Thus, since white people are considered superior' as this is not really a fact is it - unless you can come up with proof that all people consider white people superior.

Also, other ethnicities are minorities (there are fewer of them I believe in the US, individually anyway, but I’m not sure what happens if you measure up white against all combined minorities) so you can't put double quotes around minorities to suggest that this is untrue. In addition, the definition of racism makes no mention of minorities, this is an assumption of your own you are adding. If you wish to debate whether minorities can be racist, fine, but you cannot add a non-existent clause into a definition. All the definition mentions is members of other races.

Do you not think that the English empire in India held racist attitudes towards the Indians? The whites were the minority but they certainly considered themselves superior to the majority Indians. Therefore, according to the definition of racism you quoted above, they were racist. Which race was the majority/minority is not relevant according to your quoted definition.
Veteran Member11,782
Proficient Speaker: Users in this role are known to maintain an excellent grasp of the English language. You can only be promoted to this role by the Englishforums team.Retired Moderator: A moderator who has retired.
I think the key word in Guest's post is "prejudice", which Webster defines thus:

2 a (1) : preconceived judgment or opinion (2) : an adverse opinion or leaning formed without just grounds or before sufficient knowledge b : an instance of such judgment or opinion c : an irrational attitude of hostility directed against an individual, a group, a race, or their supposed characteristics.

Prejudice then is preconcieved, adverse, not based on knowledge or fact, and irrational. I suggest that we could intrepret it then as being the result of ignorance.

Using this definition, it is possible that any sentient being could have an irrational prejudice against any other, wrongly believing themselves to be superior. A creature from Mars could have an irrational prejudice against human beings, and believe the Martians to be superior.

I am not sure where Guest gets his idea that white people are considered "superior". It is certainly an historical fact that white people have considered themselves to be superior, and this is probably a fine example of irrational thinking based on ignorance of the other. The example of the British in India is an excellent one; they defined themselves as "superior", and had the military and economic power to install themselves as "masters".

Regretably, such irrational prejudice is widespread, and runs throughout history and through all continents. It has frequently been based more upon religion and "tribal" origin than upon skin colour; it is in essence an irrational fear of "the other". In recent times we have witnessed terrible atrocities committed by different factions against each other in the same country, based purely upon prejudice.

If you are into satire, here is a Tom Lehrer song from 1965 that nicely sums up prejudice. (If you want to hear the tinky tonk electronic tune, go to

http://members.aol.com/quentncree/lehrer/natbroth.htm

Please remember - this is SATIRE!

Oh, the white folks hate the black folks,
And the black folks hate the white folks;
To hate all but the right folks
Is an old established rule.

But during National Brotherhood Week,
National Brotherhood Week,
Lena *** and Sheriff *** are dancing cheek to cheek.
It's fun to eulogize
The people you despise
As long as you don't let 'em in your school.

Oh, the poor folks hate the rich folks,
And the rich folks hate the poor folks.
All of my folks hate all of your folks,
It's American as apple pie.

But during National Brotherhood Week,
National Brotherhood Week,
New Yorkers love the Puerto Ricans 'cause it's very chic.
Step up and shake the hand
Of someone you can't stand,
You can tolerate him if you try!

Oh, the Protestants hate the Catholics
And the Catholics hate the Protestants,
And the Hindus hate the Moslems,
And everybody hates the Jews.

But during National Brotherhood Week,
National Brotherhood Week,
It's National Everyone-Smile-At-One-Another-Hood Week.
Be nice to people who
Are inferior to you.
It's only for a week, so have no fear;
Be grateful that it doesn't last all year!

Sorry to go on; this is an emotive and provocative subject capable of rousing intense respone. Maybe if we all sat around and debated calmy on forums such as this, we'd learn more about each other, cure our ignorance and find that we have more in common than we think. After all, as old Bill Shakespeare said, "If you *** me, do I not bleed?"

Senior Member2,657
Proficient Speaker: Users in this role are known to maintain an excellent grasp of the English language. You can only be promoted to this role by the Englishforums team.Retired Moderator: A moderator who has retired.
Of course. Your definition of "racism" appears correct, but your conclusion is faulty at best. A member of a minority may consider their race to be superior to that of the majority, and in doing so they would have to be considered racist.
Regular Member611
Proficient Speaker: Users in this role are known to maintain an excellent grasp of the English language. You can only be promoted to this role by the Englishforums team.
My take. Any person, majority or minority can be racist, that is prejudiced against another race, group, gender, sexuality (that's why I prefer the term 'xenophobia' - different. Most people, no matter how liberal they may feel, are racist (prejudiced) to a certain degree. A society becomes racist when racism is institutionalized and some groups are disenfranchised either de facto or de jure.

Veteran Member18,201
Moderator: A super-user who takes care of the forums. You have the ability to message a moderator privately should you wish. These users have a range of elevated privileges including the deletion, editing and movement of posts when needed.Proficient Speaker: Users in this role are known to maintain an excellent grasp of the English language. You can only be promoted to this role by the Englishforums team.
Anonymous:
Hi,

I am a citizen of the U.S. and as a student of the law, this subject has be brought to my attention several times. I response to your comment, I believe that you are not looking at the issue from a historic, present day or mainly, an economic point of view. In discussing this issue, the word superior is not meant to in the context of any physical or mental capacity. Instead the word "superior" is meant in the context of position. Here in the U.S. whites hold the majority of economic power. By economic power I mean financial and asset based power. In looking at this in the context of the U.S. point of view, many minorities (especially blacks) have little economic power. Only in the last 100 years (since the U.S. Civil War) have blacks had the same opportunities as whites. These opportunities are education, land ownership and the ability to own other assets. Even then, black people where restricted by state imposed "Jim Crow" laws. For example; Many of the white families here in the U.S. pass down land and other hard assets that have been in their family for several years upon the death of a family member. Some people may call this "old money." This transfer of land and other hard assets have been in white families for several decades if not a centuries. On the other side of the coin, would we expect a black family to pass down any assets of that manor in today's society? Probably not....Why? You ask. Think about what I explained above. Slavery did not end until 1865 in the U.S. and furthermore the man state laws prevented blacks from attending schools to attain an equal education. In that context, black people are 400 years behind in education and in landownership!!! Who is in the superior position. I think the answer is obvious. I am not trying state that I am pro black and say that blacks in this country are depressed as of today, but they hold no superior economic power and therefore cannot be racist.
First, I feel the OP's own prejudices, of a sort, are getting in the way of his understanding the definition.
To be honest, the answer is pretty evident to me. For example, a man is a member of the KKK. He lives in Mississippi and really really hates blacks. Now this man is forced to live in Zimbabwe. Is he still racist? I think if you reversed the situation, it would still hold true.

As to someone's comment about xenophobia, I more or less agree.
New Member46
what dictionary is that? so if I'm a chinese in China then I'm racist? from what I've learnt at my geography class this sem, you could say:

ethnocentrism - the belief in the inherent superiority of one's own ethnic group or culture.

But when that is carried a step further to deliberately harm somebody of another ethnic origin, then that is racism.
Of course... ethnocentrism isn't that good either, but be realistic... even though I'm of the minority here in Australia
New Member30
Anonymous:
if whites hate blacks, blacks would hate them if blacks feel that whites are feeling superior they would hate them so u cna't consider that balcks are racist it's just the feeling they get from being considered as less, and this is how the circle of racism goes, if those people knew that a certain group hate them or feel superior over them they would hate them in return even if they didn't it at first
Show more
Live chat
Registered users can join here