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No, Black People Can’t Be Racist

If racism is about power (and it is) and a racial hierarchy exists (and it does), Black people cannot be racist.

Simone Samuels
7 min readNov 11, 2020


“To be black and female in a society which is both racist and sexist is to be in the unique position of having nowhere to go but up.” — Rosemary Brown

There’s been something I’ve been hearing a lot lately — and especially since George Floyd was killed in June — and it bothers me every time I hear it.

“Black people can be racist too.”

I remember when, at the Emmys, Issa Rae said she was “rooting for everyone Black” and (White) people were upset and were like “if a White person ever said that, they’d be raked over the coals but because a Black person said it it’s somehow ‘okay?’”

I remember when BET used to have the Black Girls Rock awards show and people were like “that’s so racist. What if we were to have a show called ‘White Girls Rock’ huh?”

I just listened to a friend — who happens to be a Black man — say that, “if you see a Black person being racist to a White person, you need to speak up.”

And I’m like, “Whoa. Wait. What?”

Black people can’t be racist.

Don’t get me wrong — Black people can be many things:

Black people can be prejudiced. Black people can be discriminatory. Black people can be mean. Black people can be cruel. Black people can be ignorant. Black people can be stupid. But Black people cannot be racist.

I can almost hear the counter-arguments:

“But what if a Black person denies a job to a White person just because they’re White? Or if a Black doctor doesn’t treat their patients of colour with fairness?” I mean that’s wrong. That’s flat out wrong. That’s discrimination. That’s prejudice. But it’s not racism.

All things being considered equal (which they aren’t), anyone can (i.e. has the ability to) be racist in theory.

What I’m saying, however, is that Black people can’t — as a matter of principle and practice — be racist. When I say “can’t”…



Simone Samuels

I like big stories and I cannot lie. Authentic, transparent musings & connecting with others so we can all feel less alone.