THE BLOG

In Defence of the Poor Little White Man

06/03/2014 17:03 GMT | Updated 06/05/2014 10:59 BST

We know how the argument about reverse racism/sexism goes. That for them to work the other way round, we'd have to get on a time machine and re-order the world in a manner where women, dark-skinned folk and gay people all reign supreme, leaving the straight white dude oppressed, marginalised and generally short on rights. In that world and that world only, the white guy can feasibly claim to be a victim of society. And seeing as we don't live in that world, it basically means that when a black, gay or female takes on the straight, white guy, it's called standing up for yourself.

I'd like to call bollocks on that.

Now, this isn't some perverse Uncle Tommery on my part to ingratiate myself to my straight, white friends (and many of my friends do indeed fit that profile, and they can be lovely and respectful and a bit of a dickhead in equal measures, no more no less than my non-white, non-male, non-straight friends). Nor am I selling 'my kind' short or down the river - it's a preposterous notion that as minorities we must be lumped together as one, all of us sharing the common goal of trying to measure up to the 'great white mean man'.

To do so screams out the difference: on one side, we have the oppressors. On this side, the victims. And when minorities insist different rules should apply to us, that you can't call 'racism' when we're the ones playing the perpetrator, it only means we're underlining that very division.

You've heard the one about how black people can't be termed racist. We've heard Ken Livingstone's former race adviser Lee Jasper define racism as 'prejudice plus power' (black people do not have said power ergo they can't be racist). On the other side of the racist fence, a tedious meme doing the rounds smugly asserts that racism was a term coined by Trotsky in 1927 to 'browbeat dissenters of the communist ideology'. And there's ne'er a hateful Facebook message that goes by without an EDL type popping up to bandy the 'Islam is not a race' justification.

Seriously. Who gives a shit about the word's origin and usage and and lexical bloody semantics when the fact remains: if you hate someone because he or she comes from a different country and has different skin colour to yours, you are a racist.

If a poor little white man comes into fix my washing machine and I refer to him as a 'dirty honky chav', what? That's not racist? When I see Bengalis do impressions of Chinese people, that's just a bit of a laugh, is it? Speaking of which, if we're really to humour the idea that only white people can be racist, what about the rest of the world where white people don't figure? Those African countries wiping out their neighbours are doing it just for the power, silly - perish the very idea that genocide or ethnic cleansing has anything to do with racism...

I actually pity the poor straight, white guy. Image of man who denies women the opportunities to climb the corporate ladder: white guy. Image of man who thinks homosexuality has no place in sports: white guy. White privilege, male superiority, straight supremacy... oh the burden of empowerment!

I may be a first generation immigrant that grew up in Bangladesh but worked my brown arse off to make my mark here, but I'm as entitled to my privilege just as much as any woman or gay person reading this is entitled to feel superior, supreme, dominant, mighty, powerful, controlling, commanding or all-goddamn-ruling as much as the next straight white guy.

That's the thing about equality, isn't it? If I'm to demand the same rights as a straight white man, I must also expect to be regarded as being just as big a prick when I act like one.

• Shihab S Joi is the editor of Daily Racist and Broken Songbook