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"Reverse" Discrimination

March 1998

Reverse: adjective.  1) acting, operating, or arranged in a manner contrary to the usual.

In combination with discrimination, "reverse" assumes that discrimination against whites or males is "contrary to the usual".    Reverse discrimination assumes that discrimination against men and whites is abnormal, even though non-whites and women are discriminated against everyday.

There is more concern about the word "reverse" than "discrimination".  Isn't any form of discrimination problematic?

Discrimination is about the abuse of power.  For example, racism is about the abuse of power by the white majority over people of colour.  In our culture, white, Euro-Canadians hold power and privilege.  You cannot have reverse discrimination in this context because you cannot reverse the power.

Those who cite "quotas", "affirmative action", "multi-culturalism" or awareness of "special interest" groups as examples of reverse discrimination are likely to be in positions of power and privilege in this culture.  Reverse discrimination implies that those with power believe it shouldn't happen to them, only to the other people it happens to.

 

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