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Mighty Victims 2: The “Real Victims”

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In my last essay I noted that those who occupy positions of power (broadly defined) in the United States tend to be white, male, straight, and (profess to be) Christian. Given this fact, it might seem odd that some argue that these groups are the real victims in the United States. Contrary to the evidence, it is often claimed that white people are the real victims of racism. It is true that white Americans have lost certain advantages arising from being white. In 1865 slavery was abolished and in 1870 voting rights were no longer restricted by race. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 also resulted in a relative loss of white advantage. As would be imagined, only open racists point to these as examples of whites being the real victims of racism. But most whites believe they are now the real victims of racism. When pressed for contemporary evidence of how whites are the real victims of racism, people typically point to things like affirmative action, Black Lives Matter, criticism of systematic racism, and the fact that Kamala Harris is the Democrat’s VP candidate. I do not think that most whites are lying when they claim they believe they are the real victims of racism—but I think they are in error. The obvious reason is the overwhelming evidence of systematic racism in the United States—racism whose targets are not white. I do get why white people can honestly believe they are the real victims—there are ongoing efforts to convince white people that criticism of systematic racism and efforts to offset the negative impact of centuries of racism are racist. There is also the “clever” tactic of accusing people of being racist when they acknowledge the role of the racist’s conception of race as a factor in addressing racism. To pre-empt the likely appeal to anecdotal evidence, I will not deny that there can be cases in which an individual white person is the victim of racial discrimination. In addition to condemning that as morally wrong I will also note that my concern here. . .

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