Cheap White Whine

Racism, Affirmative Action, and the Myth of White Victimhood

Tim Wise

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But what about us? It’s a question of which white folks never seem to tire when discussing subjects like affirmative action, or other diversity initiatives intended to expand opportunity and access for people of color in higher education and the job market.

Whenever these matters are raised, the vast majority of us rush to protest: How dare schools or employers consider race in admissions or hiring. They should be colorblind, we insist, merely admitting or hiring the most qualified!

And more to the point, we proclaim, targeting folks of color for opportunities means discrimination against us, making us the victims of horrific reverse racism.

So, yes, it remains the case that even when black folks have college degrees they’re nearly twice as likely as comparable whites to be out of work; and Latinos with degrees are about 50 percent more likely than comparable whites to be out of work.

And yes, even whites who claim to have criminal records are more likely to be hired than equally qualified blacks without records, but still, can anti-white lynchings be far behind?

And yes, blacks and Latinos combined only represent about 13 percent of students at the most selective colleges and universities — the only ones that actually practice any kind of real affirmative action for admissions.

And there are twice as many whites admitted to elite schools with less-than-average qualifications as there are people of color so admitted, but still, can any rational person doubt that whites will soon be limited to mere token representation at the nation’s best educational institutions?

That such hand-wringing about so-called reverse discrimination reeks of intellectual mendacity should be obvious by now.

Despite years of so-called reverse racism, whites remain atop every indicator of social and economic well-being when compared to the African Americans and Latinx folks who, it is claimed, are displacing us from our perch.

Whether looking at employment data, income, or net worth, we are the ones in better shape without exception.

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Tim Wise

Anti-racism educator and author of 9 books, including White Like Me and, most recently, Dispatches from the Race War (City Lights, December 2020)