Reverse discrimination refers to the discrimination of members of favors as deemed favor of a deemed disadvantaged group.
The onboard regulations of some Australian airlines such as Qantas Airways, Jetstar Airways and Virgin Australia prohibit male passengers from taking a seat next to children traveling alone. This regulation was criticized in August 2012 because of the implied general suspicion of pedophilia as reverse discrimination against men. According to Qantas Airways, this in-flight policy is widespread among airlines around the world. In response to public criticism, Virgin Australia has announced that it will reconsider its seating policy for unaccompanied children. In Great Britain, British Airways changed its longstanding seating policy in 2010 after an affected man successfully sued for a violation of gender equality.
In 2007, The Times reported on a former Vice President of the British Royal College of Surgeons criticizing the practice of the National Health Service for “anti-white” bias (ie a quota system in favor of non-whites) as “ disadvantage “:
“It is time that someone spoke up concerning the reverse discrimination with respect to merit awards […] In the politically correct environment in which we live, there is now definitely reverse discrimination.”
In the United States, the term “reverse discrimination” is used in discussions about minority quotas for state educational institutions, among other things. Quotas for the even distribution of students of different ethnicities among the schools in a district are now considered unconstitutional. Some cities still use ethnic quotas for public procurement. The city of Chicago, for example, stipulated that a quarter of the funds for construction contracts must be awarded to companies owned by members of minorities. In 2009, firefighters successfully sued the city of New Haven, Connecticut, who discarded the results of a promotion test after sixteen white and three Hispanic but no African American applicants passed the test.
Criticism of the concept
The evaluation of the preference for non-whites as “reverse racism” criticizes the fact that this evaluation is used for a modern variety of traditional racism. In an empirical US study, Bonilla-Silva and Forman emphasized that white students rarely perceive institutional racism and therefore wrongly view positive discrimination (affirmative action) as unfair and reverse discrimination:
“Color-blind racism allows Whites to appear ‘not racist (“I believe in equality”), preserve their privileged status (“Discrimination ended in the sixties!”), blame Blacks for their lower status (“If you guys just work hard!”), and criticize any institutional approach – such as affirmative action – that attempts to ameliorate racial inequality (“Reverse discrimination!”)”
– Bonilla-Silva and Forman, 2000
In addition, forms of discrimination such as racism are not simply attitudes; they require social power in order to implement systematic discrimination practices through social institutions. The term ”reverse racism” would, in relation to the USA, imply that minorities can subordinate white Americans through racist acts, attitudes, and institutional structures just as blacks have traditionally been oppressed by whites. Since blacks as a group lack the institutional power to systematically discriminate against whites, the term is misleading.
With regard to the situation in Germany, the journalist Ciani-Sophia Hoeder 2020 advocated the thesis:
“There is no such thing as ‘reverse racism’. Of course, there are times when whites are discriminated against or disadvantaged. And of course there are black people or people of color who don’t like white people, who have prejudices, generalize, stereotype. None of this is good. But none of that is racism. Anyone who claims such a thing obviously does not know what racism is, namely an ideology that has existed for centuries, according to which people with certain external characteristics are worth less than others.”
The question of the extent to which the above argument can also be applied to states in which representatives of the non-white majority of the population have democratically accepted power is controversial. On the one hand, excessive “acts of revenge” against whites can definitely be assessed as “reverse discrimination”. On the other hand, the descendants of colonial rulers usually do not get into the precarious situation in which the indigenous population of the state found themselves for a long time.
In India , the term is widely used in protests against quota regulations for political bodies and the allocation of jobs and training places to improve the situation of members of discriminated castes .