argument top image

Can white people in the USA be victims of racism?
Back to question

Whites can experience prejudice but not racism

The definitions of racism and prejudice are fundamentally different.

The Argument

No, white people cannot be victims of racism, yet they can experience prejudice within society. Racism and prejudice are fundamentally and technically different, which allows the white race to experience one, but not the other.[1] Racism can only be enacted by someone who holds racial privilege in a society with racial oppression. This therefore includes all white people currently living in the United States. However, prejudice is defined as a “preconceived opinion that is not based on reason or actual experience.” Therefore, this argument can follow the old rhyme from geometry; all squares are rectangles, but not all rectangles are squares. Comparatively, all racism can be considered prejudice, but not all prejudice can be considered racism. White people cannot be systemic targets due to the color of their skin. However, they too can be targeted by blanket assumptions on the basis of their skin colour, just as blanket assumptions can be made about gender, sexuality, nationality, and more. However, these instances do not translate into institutionalized norms.[2] Racism is a daily lived experience of black people, manifesting in racial profiling, police mistreatment, workplace discrimination and economic inequalities. White people do not have a comparable experience, even if they have experienced prejudice. As such, they cannot have experience racism.

Counter arguments

On the contrary, white people can be victims of racism because prejudices related to colour of skin are automatically categorized as racist efforts. Even if white people have no experience of systemic racism, facing negative effects and having negative experiences due to one’s skin colour is a racist experience, not only a prejudiced one [3]



Rejecting the premises


This page was last edited on Wednesday, 16 Sep 2020 at 15:40 UTC

Explore related arguments