At its most extreme, the exclusively structural view of racism not only entails the idea that those who supposedly stand at the top of the social hierarchy, such as Jews, are incapable of becoming the victims of racism; it also suggests that those who supposedly stand at the bottom of the social hierarchy, such as people of color, are incapable of being perpetrators of racism. Vice’s Manisha Krishnan made the point succinctly: “It is literally impossible to be racist to a white person.”

But according to press reports, the shooters in Jersey City belonged to a congregation of Black Hebrew Israelites—a label applied to a variety of largely separate groups, some of which have a long-standing history of racism against ethnic Jews—and had published a slew of anti-Semitic content online.

In short, the events in Jersey City are more complex than the exclusively structural theory of racism can accommodate. A particular racial or religious group can suffer from deep and persistent discrimination—and yet some individuals within that group can be dangerous racists who harbor violent bigotry against members of a group that, in other contexts, suffers fewer disadvantages.