The definition of racism I subscribe to is one offered by the Center for Racial Justice in Education which defines racism as a system of social structures that provides or denies access, safety, resources and power based on race categories and produces and reproduces race-based inequities. It affects us individually, is built into our institutions, and is woven into the fabric of our culture.
In short racism = structural/historical power + prejudice
I think Black people can most definitely perpetuate racism, however, I’m hesitant to say Black people can be racist. The idea of calling Black people racist strikes me as odd when I think of the structural/historical power required for racism (based on the definition above).
Whether we think Black people can be racist or not... if we’re in agreement that racism is evil and should be dismantled, does it matter whether we say Black people perpetuate racism or straight up call Black people racist?
I think the more important conversation is how to dismantle the entire system while simultaneously building new ones.