The answer to this question is... no. Or yes. It depends on what you think "racist" means.
It may seem like a provocative question, but I ask it not because I necessarily believe it to be true, but because it is an issue many people think about.
There are plenty of white people who ask questions like, "How come it's only racist if white people do it?"
Likewise, many non-white people, surveying the historical legacy of white people on the world, have wondered, "What is it about white people that makes them do so much f***ed-up racist sh*t?"
Before we start this discussion, we need to first ask: what do "racist" and "racism" actually mean? You may think this is a stupid question with an obvious answer, but exact definitions are disputed.
* The basic definition of racism is the belief that racial groups have inherent differences that make them superior or inferior to others.
* The most common, man-in-the-street definition of racism is probably technically closer to racial prejudice; in other words, having negative views of others due to their ethnicity.
* The sociological definition of racism (which you'll often come across in anti-racist circles) is that it equals racial prejudice plus power.
You could also take issue with the terms I am using here such as "white", "non-white", and "race"; indeed all are problematic, but I'm going to use them as they are generally understood.
So back to the main question: Are white people more racist than everyone else?
If we follow the sociological definition of racism, we can answer that question easily: yes. Under that definition, as it applies to Western countries, white people are the dominant group who control the bulk of social, political and economic power. Non-white people in these countries can certainly have prejudice; however, since they do not have the same degree of power, these prejudices do not systematically impact on the lives of those they are prejudiced against. Thus, going by this definition, a non-white minority in a white-dominated country cannot be racist; it follows that white people are obviously going to be more racist than everyone else.
Not really, because while I'm not going to say that such a definition is wrong, I do feel nonetheless that there are problems with it. Firstly, while it may have currency in academic circles, it is not the definition of racism that is understood by the average person. Try to tell the average person in the West that only white people can be racist, and they'll think you are bullsh*tting them; it just does not ring true. Many would see it as an idea propagated by educated elites to disempower the common man. And this is extremely significant because the battle against racism is primarily fought in the world of the average person, not in academia.
The other problem I have with "racism = prejudice + power" is that power is not just insitutional, but situational. A POC (person of colour) operating in a white system may not have much institutional power; but if a group of POC decide to attack a lone white person because they are prejudiced against whites, their numbers give them significantly greater power to cause harm than the white person.
So let's assume instead, for the sake of this discussion, that we are talking about racial prejudice, which is what most people seem to understand racism to be.
Are white people more racially prejudiced than other races of people?
You could certainly find plenty of evidence to prove that they must be. The histories of Africa, the Americas, Asia and Australia have been irrevocably shaped by the racism of European powers (primarily England, France, Spain, Portugal and the Netherlands) in the colonial era until today. Nations like Australia and the US are founded on the racist notion that indigenous peoples had no claim to the land that was worth respecting. The same people whose Bible clearly instructed "Thou shalt not steal" and "Thou shalt not kill" had few qualms about stealing land and resources and killing anyone who tried to stop them; because racism allowed them to see non-Europeans as not sufficiently worthy of such respect. Even into the 20th century, a white nation systematically executed 6 million of its inhabitants who were white, but somehow not white enough.
If we were to compare the impact of white racism over the last few hundred years with the impacts of East Asian racism, or black African racism, or indigenous American racism, there would be no contest. If we base our judgement solely on a body count, then white people are far more racist than anyone else.
But is that the best way to judge these things? Some would say yes; however there is a major problem with such an analysis. If the impacts of the racial prejudices of non-Europeans did not have such a major effect on world history as that of the Europeans, why was that? Are non-white people intrinsically less hateful to others on the basis of their race?
There are some who say yes. But if we look at history, including modern day events, it is clear that white people certainly have no monopoly on cruelty, barbarism and hatred. While the legacy of colonialism cannot be overlooked, it was not Europeans who practised the ethnic cleansing in Rwanda and Burundi that led to almost 2 million people being murdered. Neither was it Europeans who massacred the ethnic Chinese minority in Indonesia in 1965, or who participated in the Rape of Nanjing.
If we look beyond horrific ethnic conflicts and think about personal prejudices, whites and non-whites are little different. It may have been white Americans and not the Chinese who enslaved Africans and treated them as third-class citizens for several hundred years; but today the average Chinese person is probably just as prejudiced towards black people as the average American, if not more. I personally know a great many people of a variety of ethnicities who have dated Asian people (be they Cambodian, Indian, Chinese or whatever), only to fall foul of the deep-seated prejudices of that Asian's parents.
This is not to let white people off the hook for their legacy. As heinous as the effects of racism by non-whites can often be, white racism is simply more of a problem, at least in the Western world. And it comes back to power. A non-white person may have power in a particular situation, sure. But looking at the bigger picture, Western nations are dominated by white people in terms of population, in terms of wealth, in terms of political leadership, in terms of status and influence. A Barack Obama may be able to achieve the highest office in the USA, but while the political and legal decision makers, media players and CEOs remain overwhelmingly white, non-whites lack real power. So white racism has effects that are much more far-reaching than say, Indian racism or African-American racism.
I mentioned earlier about the historical legacies of colonialism and how white racism has been one of the major forces to shape the world in the last several hundred years. This is because whites had the means and opportunity. But what if the tides of history had turned out differently?
While the empires of Western Europe (Britain, Spain, France, etc) dominated the world's landscape since the 15th century, there were other empires that flourished during and before that time. At various times the Turks, Mongols, Chinese, Persians and Arabs (among others) have controlled large chunks of the world map, primarily through violence. No doubt racism was a factor in those conquests as well. Had fate dealt Sub-Saharan Africa a different hand, we could have seen Europe overrun and conquered by armies of Zulus or Somalis. Were that to happen, I do not doubt that they would be capable of just as much brutality and racism as Europeans have shown themselves capable of.
But at the end of the day, we must deal with reality. And in reality, no matter the potential for other races to inflict their racism on the world on a grand scale, it was white people who put it into action. It is their racism that effects everyone else the most.
But those who would claim that this is proof of the instrinsically racist or evil nature of whites, or claim that "the white man is the devil" (as some black radicals have done and continue to do) are way off base. That sort of thinking ignores the fundamentally flawed nature of human morality; we are all capable of great good and great evil, and the latter often happens when we think we are doing great good. If whites are guilty of doing some of those evil things more often, it is only because they have greater opportunity to do so.
White people are not really any more racist than anyone else. But given the context of the present and past, their racism simply matters far more than that of anyone else.