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Can black people be racist?

The right wing Daily Mail newspaper was beside itself last month as it pounced on the “racist” tirade of a black woman, writes Socialist Worker UK.

The article came with a video of the woman on a crowded London bus hollering at her fellow passengers.

“My parents are fucking African, born in Jamaica,” she shouted. “And I’m fucking African, born in England and I can’t stand you white people, I tell you.” The woman was later arrested on suspicion of committing a racially aggravated public order offence.

For the Mail, this incident backed up its theory that “reverse racism” is as serious a problem as racism directed against black and Asian people. Unsurprisingly it claimed that “political correctness” stands in the way of a more even-handed approach.

But the idea that black and Asian people can be racist towards white people is wrong. It confuses a reaction to a racist society with racism itself.

It is true that black and Asian people sometimes respond to racial discrimination by saying that all white people are part of the problem. Some say all whites are inherently racist. They may even make crude jokes to this effect.

These ideas can impede the fight against racism. But they are not themselves racist.

Racism is more than simple prejudice, no matter how ugly or unpleasant. It is the combination of prejudice with power. It occurs when a group of people are discriminated against because they are seen as inferior.

According to racists, there is no escape for the members of this “subordinate race”. No matter what their individual qualities, they are all said to share the characteristics of a “second-rate” people.


The vast majority of people, black or white, aren’t in positions of power. Yet most of those who hire and fire staff, and make and implement policies that affect the lives of millions are white.

Many among them hold racist views and they are given a chance to put their prejudices into action. And it’s not just racist individuals who discriminate—the capitalist state does too.

It is for these reasons that darker-skinned people are more likely to be out of work, in poor housing and the victims of racist policing. They are at the bottom of a racial hierarchy.

If a white person argues that all black people are illegal immigrants they are using racist ideas to side with the powerful against the oppressed.

Racism runs deep in capitalist society because it is such a crucial component of the system. That’s why black and Asian people can accept racist ideas about themselves and other oppressed people.

Even in the most racially mixed inner city areas there can be animosity between different groups that face state racism.

During last year’s riots in Birmingham there was a danger that African-Caribbean and Asian people would see each other as enemies. Yet both groups face racist harassment at the hands of a common enemy—the police.

The best way for anti-racists to alleviate this friction is to point out what unites us and our common history of fighting against racial oppression.

Only by waging the most uncompromising struggle against racism can we prove that most white workers are not prejudiced. Uniting all those who face exploitation and oppression is the best way to overcome racism.



Comment from Lorikeet
Time September 28, 2012 at 7:36 am

I have neighbours who are Indians. Their opinion is that every race on earth exercises racism against all other races. They admit to doing it themselves.

I think it is also the case that people of every race on earth react to racism (perceived or otherwise) directed against them.

I have also sat on 2 juries containing people from various racial backgrounds and found that the majority are prejudiced against criminals, simply because there is an opportunity to jail them.

A third all-white jury was even more prejudiced against a coloured defendant. I think all-Asian and all-black juries would have the same attitude towards defendants of any other race.

When people look physically different and come from different cultural, political and religious backgrounds, there are always going to be problems. That’s why social engineers are redistributing populations across the world, creating copious intermarriage opportunities, with a goal to eventually wipe out race, religion and culture altogether, in a more homogeneous society.

I think the people will then simply find something else to fight over, which is the reason social engineers are also creating new opportunities to somatise the people e.g. if your child is considered to be shy, they are already intending to fix it with a pill.

I believe the future holds homogeneous thought patterns, “clonal” attitudes and behaviours, and identical economic circumstances.

Comment from Kay
Time September 28, 2012 at 1:21 pm

Once again – a twisted Socialist rewriting of a simple concept! Of course ‘non white’ people can be racist – and they are! Just as much as ‘white’ people can be racist.

We ‘white’ people also belong to a race – Caucasian. The fact that much wealth and power resides with Caucasian countries is a matter of history. But don’t forget the second and third biggest economies in the world are Asian (China, Japan) – surely that gives them some degree of ‘power’?

There are countries in the world where the government laws are engineered to the disadvantage of Caucasians and other races versus the ruling ‘non white’ race. There is racism everywhere you choose to look. People are just fearful of any race of people with different looks, religion, culture, ideals etc from those of their own race. I think it is a hard-wired fear of the unknown.

Comment from John Humphreys
Time September 28, 2012 at 2:07 pm

I find this article racist, and it should be banned as hate speech.

Comment from jack
Time September 28, 2012 at 3:41 pm

what a stupid article.
Everyone has the capacity to be racist.
The Chinese say every non-Chinese is inferior, ditto the Japanese.
The Jews call White women ‘Shiksa’ which is a very doerogatory term.
Muslims hate all non-muslims.
As I wrote, a stupid article from a stupid writer.

Pingback from » En Passant » Can black people be racist?
Time September 28, 2012 at 5:38 pm

[…] En Passant » Can black people be racist? Go to this article […]

Comment from John
Time September 28, 2012 at 7:23 pm

Gee, haven’t the reactionaries jumped in quickly. The Daily Mail mind is rampant in Australia.

In the context of UK society and the overwhelming fact that power – political, economic and social – lies with the white bosses and their politicians – then the article is perfect defensible. When black people fight back it is a response to the racism of society, not racism itself.

And good luck with that hate speech action John Humphreys. I suggest you contact your local police, or the Federal or State Human Rights Commission to be laughed at all the way out.

Comment from jack
Time September 29, 2012 at 5:39 pm

realist = reactionary in your mind.
Why do you hate the White race so much?
In a perfect world, you would be put against the wall and shot.
I’d gladly pull the trigger.
Race traitor.

Comment from Yvonne
Time September 30, 2012 at 3:05 pm

Reading the comments, I think what did not come across clearly in the article is that this pertains to racism in the UK, not the world in general. In the UK, as in Australia, the powerbase is overwhelmingly in the hands of Caucasians.
There are many countries not predominantly caucasian who are racist. Not only towards caucasions, but also to others.
It is not only a white vs brown people thing.
Surely, no commentor is going to argue that just because it happens between others in other countries that therefore it is OK in the UK?

Comment from Simon
Time September 30, 2012 at 9:18 pm

I agree that black and Asian people cannot be ‘racist’ like white people can because racism, like sexism is a question of power relations, not just saying nasty things to each other.

However all ‘races’ discriminate against each other to some degree. In Britain where I am from the African community dislike the African-Caribbean community (one calls the other lazy, the others say that they are “tuck up”/arrogant). Both are united however, in a strong discrimination against south Asian people. An ex Girlfriend of mine was Vietnamese and she said her parents had a strict hierarchy of who she could go out with, East Asian men at the top, then possibly white men, then south asian men and then at the bottom black men.

When hearing black or Asian people be discriminatory towards each other it can sound like racism, but it is not the same – the discrminiation of an African person to an Asian person is not bound up with power relations and a historical instances of oppression – EXCEPT for where the discrimination is embedded in historical relations, for instance south Asians being brought to Africa by the British to work as civil servants, or the African Caribbean’s being seen as ‘weak’ by Africans because they were sold into slavery. But that historical relationship is mediated by the colonialism and slavery which were… European white institutions, so even that discrimination is bound up with the racist colonial policies of white power.

Comment from Lorikeet
Time October 1, 2012 at 11:51 am

I think racism stems back to the origins of humanity, when people lived in small tribal groupings. If people looked different, they were distrusted and considered possible rapists, pillagers and murderers who could wipe out their village, stealing food, weapons and women.

That’s why everyone had their own little defence force of strong young males to deter various forms of incursion.

Comment from John
Time October 1, 2012 at 1:45 pm

Racism is a creature of capitalism.

Comment from Kay
Time October 1, 2012 at 2:29 pm

The last time I looked, the Oxford Dictionary defined ‘racism as “the belief that all members of each race possess characteristics, abilities, or qualities specific to that race, especially so as to distinguish it as inferior or superior to another race or races”.

I think Lorikeet is closer to the actual meaning of ‘racism’ than you are, John.

Or do Socialists have their own dictionary?

Comment from John
Time October 1, 2012 at 4:14 pm

Read the article. It is about power too.

Comment from Kay
Time October 1, 2012 at 6:09 pm

Depends whether you look strictly at the pure definition of the word ‘racism’ or go off on a further interpretation of the implications of racist behaviour in our society. That’s where ideology steps in to guide that interpretation. I prefer to stick to the actual pure meaning of the word itself.

Comment from Lorikeet
Time October 1, 2012 at 8:53 pm

Certainly racism is driven by capitalists, but only so they can eventually capitalise upon reduced wages and working conditions for everyone in the modern world. They incite both racism and religionism by paying foreign workers lower wages, especially if there is also a high level of unemployment amongst the locals.

I wouldn’t rule out power as a driver of racism either.

In the process of creating a homogeneous raceless and religionless society, social engineers are helping to reduce wages and working conditions in western nations to benefit corporates, including money hungry bankers.

A man on TV has substituted the word “banksters” for “gangsters”.

Perhaps in more primitive times, everyone knew that other tribes were eager to capitalise upon their food stores, native jewellery, animal skins and women of childbearing age. They learned this from experience.

Comment from Kay
Time October 2, 2012 at 9:00 am


What exactly is this “religionism” you are talking about? And what on earth is your evidence of the following statement: “In the process of creating a homogeneous raceless and religionless society, social engineers are helping to reduce wages and working conditions in western nations to benefit corporates, including money hungry bankers.” Sounds like another ‘conspiracy theory’ of yours. If anything, the push here is for a ‘multicultural society’ which seems the opposite to what you are suggesting.

And given the problems, genocides, horrific deaths and destruction caused by the various religions over the history of mankind, I would think any move away from the grip of religions and more towards a kinder, humanist approach is to be applauded. If only that could happen! But established religions are themselves power structures that are hell bent on preserving their power and wealth – just like governments and corporations are.

If people gain comfort from some religious belief/faith, then great! Let them believe. But as soon as proponents of a religion/faith/belief system start to force other people to convert/believe, or enforce their values/beliefs on the value system/beliefs/lives of others, then that is a real problem. People seem to forget that a religion is nothing more than a personal belief system – propped up by huge, wealthy formal structures – there is no proof that there is or isn’t any validity for these beliefs. I think attempts by religious evangelists of all faiths to convert others to their views are appalling and often prompted by feelings of insecurity in their own beliefs. As an atheist, I have zero desires to convert others to atheism. But I do object to any lack of separation between Church and State.

Comment from Lorikeet
Time October 2, 2012 at 4:48 pm

I think it’s naive to believe that there could ever be total separation of church and state. Everyone has some kind of belief system and some people practise elements of several without even knowing it. Atheism is a form of religion, or even a mix of a number of religions.

The more you mix up the races and religions, the more conflicts you can deliberately create, and the better the excuse to try to remove any kind of organised religion from a society.

Race could eventually be removed by intermarriage. In the last 30+ years, we have gone from a predominantly white society to a mixed race nation, as most people will have noticed.

“Religionism” is very well described for readers in your final paragraph. When enough hatespeech has been directed at people of various faiths, the time is ripe to abolish all but the Green Atheist religions which are modelled along Pagan lines.

Religion has always been with us, and can only be replaced by different belief systems.

The fact that corporates are now using underpaid foreign workers can hardly be passed off as a “conspiracy theory”. BTW that term was coined to shut down people’s independent thinking skills, so they would attack the messenger instead of paying attention to the message.

Stay tuned for further evidence of banksters’ plans to limit your access to superannuation benefits, while trying to fool you into believing that money made off the backs of foreign slaves is to be deposited into your superannuation account.

Comment from Lorikeet
Time October 2, 2012 at 4:58 pm

Another element of a homogeneous society is men and women being taught to take on every role within a society, so that gender differences are minimised.

This enables the state to raise the children according to its corporate model (all adults working outside the home) while children are indoctrinated.

Gender homogeneity is the main cause of falling infertility as testosterone drops and oestrogen increases in males, and the opposite occurs in females. At the same time, fewer adults want to give up their personal freedom or career.

This is also a method of Population Control.

In Singapore, there are now terrible problems with young people who won’t marry or have any children, creating an ever increasingly imbalanced Age Pyramid.

Comment from Kay
Time October 2, 2012 at 6:52 pm


Just more of your conspiracy theory stuff and a weird mixing of all sorts of unrelated issues. And BTW atheism is not a religion – it is just a statement that you don’t believe in any “gods”! I concede it’s a belief, but definitely not a religion. And given the increasing number of atheists in our society, there are many more like me. Why you think we are all Greens supporters, I’m not sure! And we don’t cause any problems or conflicts in society.

I have not directed any “hate speech” towards anyone of any religious belief. I am merely referring to a long history of genocide, murder, torture and horrible atrocities committed in the past, and continuing to be committed in the present, in the name of some religion or another. These are undeniable historical facts.

And as for my superannuation – the biggest threat at the moment is the Labor Party trying to claw back money to cover their overspending!

Comment from Jolly
Time October 2, 2012 at 7:14 pm

There is really no such thing as ‘racism’. Colour of skin (or the lack of it) is certainly not the catalyst nor the reason for mean and prejudicial acts of one against the other. We hide behind ‘racism’ to practice a more sinister and indefensible human behaviour; i.e. economic snobbery. We have come to associate (assisted by media images) economic power with superiority.

Let me substantiate this claim. During the 2nd WW, the atrocities of the Japanese towards those in Asia (mainly Chinese) and the West (including Australians) are well documented and widely known. But when Japan became an economic power block, all was forgotten. In Australia, the once well established mantra of the ‘Yellow Peril’ was quickly and hurriedly forgotten. Our farmers and business communities led the march towards promoting all things Japanese. Our best ocean and land produces went straight to Japan. Japanese tourist were treated like ‘demi-gods’ by the Queensland tourism board and all service industries throughout this land. What ever happened to our ‘Yellow Peril’, what ever become of our anger and disgust at what they did in WW2? The apartheid rulers of South Africa even went as far as bestowing the Japanese as ‘Honorary Whites’. I have personally seen wealthy Afro-Americans treated with such reverence in Australia but these same people decry our own Aboriginal people. I could give many such examples.

Colour of skin? Nay! It is economic power, it is the colour of the dollar that makes or breaks our human decency. Once we recognise this sad truth, we’d shy away from this practice. No, there is no such thing as racism; we hide behind this to practice a more lowly act towards fellow humans. You are right, John