The comments this post have veered into an interesting discussion of whether it is possible for blacks to be racist against whites. Everyone agrees they can be prejudiced, but the argument is that racism is a power relation--it is not just the thought but the effect of subordinating someone due to their race. Furthermore, racism cannot be separated from racist histories--that is, racism draws upon past inequalities to justify and reify present ones. Since blacks are not and were not in a position of power in America's racial scheme, they cannot cause racially disparate effects and thus cannot be racist.
If you prefer, here's the more technical form of the argument. Joe Feagin and Hernan Vera write:
"Racism is more than a matter of individual prejudice and scattered episodes of discrimination. There is no black (or other minority) racism because there is no centuries-old system of racial subordination and discrimination designed by African Americans to exclude white Americans from full participation in the rights, privileges, and benefits of this society. Minority racism would require not only a widely accepted racist ideology directed at whites, but also the power to systematically exclude whites from opportunities and rewards in major economic, cultural, and political institutions."
Marilyn Friedman continues:
[L]et us consider what an incident of racism might be like when isolated conceptually from a social pattern of racism. In such a case, a perpetrator would express or enact hatred or scorn toward a targeted person in virtue of her race, but there would be no history, or prevalent pattern of racism that pertained to the target person's racial identity. There would be no commonly known stereotypes of members of the target's racial group. There would be no commonly known slang words available for insulting such persons. In addition, if the targeted person were not relatively socially disadvantaged, it would be difficult to shame her on economic grounds let alone associate that shame with her racial group. There would simply be no racebased context of hatred or scorn for making sense of such an act. A conceptually isolated act of racism becomes little more than an act of mere hatred or scorn that happens to be prompted by the race of the target person quite independently of the culture in which it occurs or the history of that culture.
I might start my disagreement by noting that I think this definition of racism is wrong. We might quarrel over whether racism with significant effects is more morally culpable than racism without it (I'd agree it is), but I don't think that the latter is not racism. Furthermore, it neglects forms of voluntary power construction. While I might have the option of maintaining myself at the top of America's racial hierarchy, I don't. Because of my beliefs, I voluntarily make part of my sense of wellbeing contingent on what the disadvantaged think of me--I want them to know me as someone who cares for their plight and is working to remedy it. In other words, I give them power over my self-esteem--their comments matter to me. So if a minority tells me, "you're just a racist cracker like all the rest," that draws on the power I've ceded to them in order to harm my self-image--on account of my race. That I "chose" to construct my sense of well-being in this manner in no way obviates the power the relationship has over me. I think we've all said to someone who we care about who utters a hurtful word to us, "well, I don't care what you think!"--and we all know what a lie it is. Power does not just lie in coercion, often, it is part and parcel of our own decision about what we deem important.
But even if we make coercive power the litmus test for racism, I still think it is possible for Blacks to be racist against Whites. Power operates on many levels. In ABA's comments, for example, one person noted that Jesse Jackson probably has power over his white Janitor. It was responded that an individualist view on racism obscures the way structures are racist--Jackson may be more powerful than the Janitor, but when they drive home from work, it'll be the reverend who gets pulled over on a DWB.
We blind ourselves when we ignore any level of power--individual, structural, or what I term "mid-range." As has been noted, individual racist acts can occur by any race--I do believe that a black owner of a grocery store who continually berates his white employee with racial taunts, refuses to promote him, and blames him for all the store's misfortunes, has the requisite power level and thus is engaging in racism. By contrast, on a structural level, whites rule and thus overarching structures are racist towards minorities.
Where things get interesting, in my opinion, is at the "mid-range" between the overarching superstructure and the individual level. This would include communities that are subsidiary to the overall community--for example, Academia or Politics. Mid-range race discourse is not necessarily the same as at the levels above or beneath it. Take academia, for example. Academia still operates within a superstructural racist climate in America. And individual students at a college may still utter racist remarks or engage in other racist conduct. But at the mid-range, colleges and universities in America have thrown themselves entirely against racism. The structure of academia has wholeheartedly embraced (as I do) Critical Race Theory, Standpont Theory, Intersectionality, and other post-modern anti-racism remedies. In this context, a new empowered group emerges--consisting of the minority scholars and writers crafting/applying these theories, and their allies. They can, if they wish, use this power as leverage against persons, including whites, they dislike (I'm not saying this happens often, only that it can and occasionally does). If they claim that a certain professor's work is racist, that guy will be in serious trouble (especially if he isn't tenured). The very notions of "standing" and such that Crits are so proud of will make it almost impossible for him to give a defense--he is not considered "competent" to speak on race issues since he isn't a minority--an odd inversion of the "rules of racial standing" Derrick Bell talks about in our daily life. Even if he is cleared, the stigma will remain--he might not get invited to conferences and his articles may get blackballed, a hostile work environment (who wants to associate with a racist?) might drive him out of his job altogether. This power, to both make the accusation and demolish the framework by which the accused can conduct a defense, is a power that blacks arguably have over whites in the context of academic discourse. Other examples abound. The explicit argument that Whites should stop writing (or write far less) on a given topic is legitimized. Claims that white culture is fatally defective are seriously discussed and argued. All of this occurs inside a power matrix where, ironically, the very black professors who hold power over their white counterparts still might be pulled over on the way home from work, and still might have to suffer through racist comments overheard in the Cafeteria.
Politics operates similarly. The battle against racism, as Mari Matsuda notes, has "legitimating force." Those who are seen as against racism are deemed as good, those who are not, bad. Who controls the label of "racist" in this context becomes critical--which is part of why the right and left love to fight over it so much. Insofar as someone is effectively dubbed as "racist", their career is pretty much over. Yet the process is very inexact. John Cornyn gives a police officer whose false drug accusations imprisoned an entire town's worth of black persons (often for life) "Lawman of the Year" award, he is elected Senator from Texas (thankfully the sentences were eventually overturned). Trent Lott praises Strom Thurmond, and is forced to resign is leadership post, though it is difficult to see (aside from whether Lott was wrong) how his comment was worse than Cornyn's act. But in political groups which do value the voice of color (and there are some), there is a very real opportunity for black persons to use their position as "definers of racism" to tar politicians they simply dislike. If they choose to do this, it is racism. And of course, that does not get into Black-majority cities--where the political establishment as a whole (which is as big a power player as there is) is controlled by African-Americans. If that government chooses to race-bait, that qualifies pretty clearly as racism.
The idea contained in this is that power can operate at cross-purposes even within the same system. Blacks can be both dismpowered and empowered within even the same context--which brings along with it the possibility of cross-currents of racism. If racism is a function of power, than anytime blacks are given the power they have been unjustly denied there is the potential for racism. Even accepting the obvious truth that racism still overwhelmingly is skewed against Blacks, it still does not affect the pockets of Black power where they have the opportunity to be racist against whites.
This isn't to create a misperception that this sort of minority-on-majority racism happens all the time. It doesn't, and even when it does it pales in comparison to the volume of white-on-black racism in the world. But the anti-racism crowd does itself no favors by falsely universalizing power to one group. To do this denies contemporary realities and reduces the credibility of the anti-racist message as a whole.