Guest Post: Can you be racist towards White people?


Recently, my university began a media outreach podcast called Afraid To Ask, which is an excellent weekly episodic where faculty members from the university debate various topics. I was very pleased with it up until recently when the topic of choice was “Can you be racist to white people?” The answer, according to the Faculty of Social Sciences, is no.

Now, I want to make it clear that the university itself has been very quick to explain that its opinions are not the same as those of the faculty, which is a big relief for me personally. Considering some of the nastiness occurring in Evergreen College in the United States right now, racial divides on campus are something that I’ve learned to take very seriously. This podcast smacks of the same kind of behaviour, with the argument of “white privilege” being used to dictate that discrimination against white people is merely an act of prejudice rather than racism. I take exception to people rewriting the definition of a word to differentiate discrimination against different groups. It is, however, encouraging that the university has taken steps to distance itself from this form of rhetoric.

I’ve watched as the UK and US have become engulfed in racially charged debates, and indeed many of the same forms of logic are thrown around in order to demonise different groups or justify or minimise acts of violence or discrimination towards them. The University of Missouri, Evergreen College (where a professor has moved out of state after refusing to leave campus during a “no whites on campus” day), Goldsmiths University (where there were diversity workshops where white people were specifically forbidden from attending) and similar examples leave me worried about the state of academia in the west. Universities, now more than ever, must be a bastion of freedom of speech, so I will defend the rights of the people on this podcast to speak their minds, but I am in no hurry to see this form of speech take root in New Zealand. It is unbecoming of a place of learning to minimise acts of violence or discrimination based on the colour of a person’s skin.

To see if I’m hyperbolising, you may listen to the podcast here and decide for yourself.




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