Hoo boy. /me puts on his asbestos suit.

I think a better name for the "Your people oppressed my people, shame on you" attitude is reciprocating racism.

That is, at some point my people were racist to your people. (I'm a white male, so this is probably true, even if your people consists of, for instance, small amphibians named Fred.) Therefore, your people reciprocate and are racist in return. Nasty cycle, eh?

In Reality, though, I've not seen this very often. The kind of people who tend to pull this are generally off kilter in other ways, too, and I can easily ignore it.

Even if it wasn't about the opression of some particular group of people, the simple ideas of "your people" and "my people" being yours or mine because of skin color--that is racism.

BET is racism.
Affirmitave Action is racism.
the NAACP is racism.
the United Negro College Fund is racism.
The Case for Reparations is racism.
the Black X Union (Nurses, steelworkers, pilots, etc.) is racism.

Am I the only person who thinks that I'm not personally responsible for the actions of every other individual in history that had the same skin color as me? What if my parents have black people as supervisors in their jobs? What if my grandparents participated with Martin Luther King, Jr. in the March on Washington? What if my great-grandparents were hanged as nigger-lovers because they refused to go along with their "people" in oppression of others? At the risk of sounding self-righteous (or worse, politically correct), I don't think myself or anyone in my immediate ancestry has ever taken action to oppress a single individual, much less a "people." every thought and every act of racial prejudice is harmful.

"My People"--at least, the people that are similar in appearance to me--are not an institution, they're not a voting bloc or "the man." They don't act as one, they act as individuals. If you want to accuse a particular group of people for oppressing others, look in your history books, and figure out who had slaves, and if they're still around, accuse them of the misdeeds they have done (misdeeds to their actual victims, of course, not the "people" who want to get a piece of the righteous indignation that comes from sharing a skin color with some individual or group of individuals who were oppressed several generations ago.)

The original title of this node was something like "This 'Your people oppressed my people, shame on you' attitude is racism" --- an angry, ill-phrased mouthful of bile, now mercifully abbreviated by some e2god whose identity is unknown to me. But whatever. The "attitude" described in the bilious mouthful does indeed qualify as racism if you define racism as discrimination against the members of a certain ethnic group on the basis of group membership alone. However, that "attitude" is pretty darn mild compared to segregation, apartheid, Japanese-American internment camps, concentration camps, the genocide of Native Americans by European settlers, and the Spanish Inquisition, to name just a few nasty instances of ethnic cleansing in human history. Furthermore, regardless of whether an individual actively participates in the oppression that his or her ancestors inflicted on other groups, he or she may well reap its benefits, or even (gasp!) passively perpetuate it. No one is innocent. We all inherit the sins of our fathers (and mothers, of course). But we can learn from those mistakes and our own, and do our best to prevent their repetition.

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