Hyphen’s recent blog post about Princeton University’s “Reverse Racism” was amusing to me, especially since the terminology was used incorrectly — it’s not reverse racism, it’s just racism. (Especially ironic since I learned this after I moved to the South.) And here I had always thought before that “reverse racism” meant that the minority was going against the majority in a racist manner. But if you actually read the definition of racism itself:
1. a belief or doctrine that inherent differences among the various human races determine cultural or individual achievement, usually involving the idea that one’s own race is superior and has the right to rule others.
2. a policy, system of government, etc., based upon or fostering such a doctrine; discrimination.
3. hatred or intolerance of another race or other races.
Definition number three goes both ways, doesn’t it? And take a look at Urban Dictionary whom I like to use as a reference for all things slang this side of Wednesday — interestingly enough, everything points to the fact that there really isn’t “reverse” racism; It’s just racism.
Now let’s revisit the phrase used inside Princeton: 白人看不懂, bai ren kan bu dong, or “white people can’t read this.” When it comes to gags and jokes, there’s always a target and sometimes it’s drawn on the line of color. If some people feel that it’s racism because they’re sensitive, there’s no stopping that one. But the phrase isn’t exactly racist but more of a funny saying, the type that you’d see in Spencer’s. And believe me, there are a lot of things in that store that could make people edgy if read in the wrong fashion.
While I can’t speak for the intent behind the chalkboard incidence at Princeton, this jesting term not only has a Facebook following, it has shirts that support WongFu Productions. And neither the group and WongFu has ever shown any sort of position on trying to cause racial tension.