The title says it all. No point in building up with any complex narrative. This is just a simple question: can black people be racist?


Whenever I talk to a segment of folks in academia – social scientists and such – they contend that black people can not be racists, arguing that racism is a combination of racial prejudice and the power to reinforce that prejudice. I never quite followed that logic, especially considering that many black people I know live in cities ran by black mayors, black councilmen, black superintendents/school officials, etc. With that kind of political capital at their disposal, doesn’t that mean that at least some kind of racism [i.e. racial prejudice + power to enforce] can take place? I’m not saying it has taken place, just that it can.

I guess that’s why I contend that racism, sexism, homophobia, etc. have less to do with power and more to do with behavior. I don’t have to wield any power to be a racist. All I need is the requisite ignorance. I’m not in a position where I hire/fire people based on their race or where I can provide preferential treatment in shaping their social and financial destinies. I’m not in a position where I can push buttons which control the fate of the entire world. Yet, I can harbor as much racially-motivated disdain and prejudice against another group as they can for me. In my mind’s eye, ignorance and intolerance are the common denominators to racism, not power.

But that’s what I think. What say you?