Former Racists Share What Made Them Reevaluate Their Ways
Find A Way To The End
It can come from ignorance. It can come from inexperience. It can come from a lack of empathy or understanding. Racism can spring up in any heart, and it can stay with you for a long time, festering. However, there are those times when a life-changing experience can shift what you thought you knew. Just ask these people, former racists who answered Reddit user, u/skankinanarchist's question:
Former racists of reddit, what made you change?
Just Meet People
Met black people, met asians.
Realized they're just people and it took more energy to hate them irrationally than it did to just... Not. From there it was easy to not be racist against others.
Deep Down, We're All The Same
We all bleed red.
The Internet Is Doing Good For Once!
Internet helped me understand everyone has problems.
It's Not Who You Are, But What you Do
I wasn't racist but my mum was. I had a middle-eastern friend and she realised she's not a terrorist that race doesn't make you a terrorist - being a terrorist does
When You See The Problem Isn't A Problem
This is gonna sound ridiculous but I grew up white trash in Australia in a very white suburb, where somehow immigrants (that didn't exist to any great degree) were the problem (not the rampant spousal and child abuse /drug addiction).
I (and many others) grew up being taught that hate. For me the first time I really was confronted with that I was 9 and Changes by Tupac released and it blew my mind.
By the time I got to highschool and had to interact with actual ESL immigrants I was thankfully not a racist.
Get Out In The World
To actually experience the culture of other people is a brutal eye-opener.
When The Problem Is Within
I realized that I didn't dislike black people for being black...I disliked pretty much everyone regardless of color. Just lived in a sh-tty area and everyone was sh-tty.
Left and everything got better.
Leaving home. My mom is Japanese and raised me Japanese, racism and all. I left my house late 17y/o and now that I've lived on my own, I grew to be myself, and with that, grew up mentally.
Make A Tough Decision
This is in the same vein, but not actually racism. I was raised in a Baptist church. My family simply didn't discuss gay people because there was no reason to. As I grew up, I became pretty homophobic due to the church. Not as bad as the absolute psychopaths you see. But, bad enough.
Then, I worked at this place when I was like 20 and made a friend named Marlon. He was an older guy, in his 60's, but cool as hell. We used to talk and hang out for hours. He gave me a DVD box set of 'Carl Sagan's Cosmos' was just an all around good guy.
Then one day, he stopped me and was like. 'Were you at a gay club this weekend?' I told him I wasn't and he was like 'Oh, I saw your twin there then.' I kind of laughed it off and went on. Then, a few minutes later the realization hit me and I went back to him and was like 'You were at a gay club, are you gay?' he confirmed that he in fact he was.
At this point I had a decision to make, this guy who I thoroughly respected and really liked. What do I do about him? Do I hold onto my prejudice, or do I admit I was wrong? The decision was easy to make once I thought about it, took less than two seconds. Suffice to say now I go to gay pride festivals, I keep a dog tag I got from one on my key ring and I'm a huge supporter of LGBT rights.
I know he wasn't trying to change anything about me. But he did, in a profound way. Not only did he make me think different about gay people, but he also made me think about all my prejudices and that helped me become who I am today.
One on One
One on one time with white people.
I had bad experiences with white peers when I was a kid. I was always left out and felt ostracized. As an adult, I still feel that way sometimes. It helps to have one on one time with acquaintances and friends who are white. You get a better sense of their inner monologue. By finding common ground, you make better assumptions about them even in their absence.
Fighting With Your Family
A part of my family is racist. There are pictures of child me with David Duke when he was running for some office. I'm not sure what he was running for.
I'd say just growing up and experiencing life.
Southeast Texas can be rough in areas and I've had good and bad things happen from all races. My uncle and granddad told me they'd beat me if I dated a black girl. Stupid things like that. Everyone is just trying to make a life for themselves and I see no reason to hate a race.
A Full Cycle
I was raised to not be racist. I didn't even recognize being white as a child, I told people I was peach colored. I had best friends who were black, Spanish, Middle Eastern.
Then I went into a group home. My friend was jumped for being white, I was made fun of, got yelled at walking down the street, called snow bunny, was told I could never understand hard times. And for a long time it made me bitter and judgemental.
Now that I'm out of those situations I don't generalize anymore and I'm back to my old self.
A Life-Changing Hike
Ooh i can finally answer one of these in a serious way. So i was raised in the bible belt by a super far right dad.
My mom and sister were pretty normal, but growing up I hated Obama and i was on the email list for a couple groups that were extremely pro second amendment and far right. This seemed normal to me and all through out high school I acted like a jack a-- to people in my school who weren't white or supported a liberal agenda.
Eventually i went off to college.. took a year off.. and moved back in with my dad while I saved up money to hike the Pacific Crest Trail on the West Coast. During that year that I took off I interacted with so many minorities and liberals and people who I would have hated in high school. But after living a 'hippy' lifestyle for 2 months while hikking the PCT and even living at a "Eco-Feminist-Hostel" in Hawai'i for 2 months I became a lot more chill.
Now I'm no longer racist and I'm a lot less likely to judge someone for their beliefs no matter what they are.
Public School For The Win
I was raised by racist parents and grandparents but I just grew up and formed my own ideas.
Public school helped, most of my friends were Mexican as we lived in a mostly Mexican town growing up. It wasn't a big realization or anything. After I turned 9 I stopped believing in God, stopped being racist. By 12 I was interested in politics and left leaning while my parents are die hard republicans. I just formed my own ideas and didn't let them brainwash me.
In Someone Else's Shoes
Spent a month as a minority. It's pretty disconcerting to have everyone turn to look at you everywhere you go.
Care to elaborate? I'm assuming you were traveling out of the country but the silly part of me is imagining you applying black face every morning for a month.
Yeah, I spent a month in an Asian country. I didn't see another white person for a week. Even though there was no animosity, it was just tough being "the strange looking person" day after day
Aren't We All People?
My hometown still has an active and organized arm of the KKK, and there were cross burnings and race riots around 2003, so this was where I grew up, and I'm happy the N-word doesn't appear as the first unconscious thought I have when I see a black person.
It feels weird saying 'black person', or 'Hispanic' nowadays, thanks to the US military.
I came out of the service around 2011, and it took a couple of years before I 'got' that racism is still a big thing out here. I just forgot that skin color mattered while in there.
Still seems so d-mned stupid that you're going to divide yourselves because of how our ancestors evolved protection against sunlight.
Don't we have mutual enemies to fight? People that need our help? Children to raise and protect?
Are we this devoid of better things to do?
Meet Someone. Anyone.
I met a holocaust survivor.
He was a child at the camp in Sobibor. It was a life changing experience. Without it, I'd probably have ended up being part of the alt-right. Instead, I got a real wake up call and have taken to being a major supporter or human rights.
A Long Time Coming
I was extremely racist in 6th and 7th grade. I had a strong hatred for East Asians, African American, and Caucasian people for no good reason. My parents also didn't express any form of racism, which just makes my actions even more ridiculous.
I would constantly harass this East Asian girl, making fun of her appearance and telling her that she ate dog. I would also refer to Caucasians as "crackers" and would make slavery jokes in front of the African American kids. So yeah, I was a pretty terrible person.
I changed after two events occurred. The first was when I got into a race war with an African American girl. I made a really racist joke about dark chocolate, which led to her telling me off. She didn't mention my past history, which led to the principal letting me off the hook. Later that day, we had a liturgy (I went to a Catholic school), and my crush was there. An African-American kid was trying to be nice and let me sit next to her, but instead I pushed him over. Eventually, my crush and a teacher overheard my remark, which led to me being taken out of the liturgy and sent to the office. I was later given a detention for my remarks, and that detention became Saturday school when the girl told the teachers of my past behavior.
A few months later, I was still unchanged. I just stopped teasing the African-American kids. One day, I went to the East Asian girl and made a joke about her belonging in a sweatshop. Clearly annoyed, she told me off. I was immediately suspended, and my parents decided to take me to a behavioral counselor for my actions. After this incident, I reformed myself. I apologized to everyone I had harassed for the past two years, and stopped my racist behavior. I left the school one year later, as I wanted to leave the past behind.
I learned to accept everyone of all colors, and no one should be treated poorly because of the color of their skin.
Slowly, But Surely
It's kind of hard to articulate but I'll try. I grew up and still live in the Bible Belt in a predominantly white area. I grew up being taught that the KKK was evil but also hearing racist jokes every now and then and the people around me laughed so I thought they were funny. It didn't happen overnight but there was this slow realization that these jokes are not funny and it's NOT ok to have a feeling of superiority over someone because of skin color or cultural differences. The middle aged white people in this area are so ignorant of how they sound. The same people that tell racist jokes would be hurt if they would be called racist. Someone that I know fairly well was trying to be super PC and she called black people "the coloreds" because she thought that was better then just saying black. It was so cringey.
Sometimes, You Just Need To Meet People
I was 1 of 3 native people in a school with 300 people. I was harassed daily, got called a chug, squaw, dirty Indian and was told to go back to my rez. I've had food, bottles and other things thrown at me. My cellphone was stolen and smashed days after my parents saved up to buy me my own. Girls would try and physically fight me for no other reason than that I didn't look like them.
By the end of highschool I HATED white people. I thought they all hated me so it would be fine if I expressed the same kind of resentment and anger, even towards strangers who hadn't done anything wrong.
All it took to change my mind, was a trip to a national park with my dog. People were so friendly and kind. I couldn't believe it, people from all of the world were interacting with me and my dog. I was receiving nothing but kindness and love, especially from white people and children who wanted to pet my dog. That's all it took, was a dog to undo years of my racism towards white people. Surely if my dog could love any human he encountered, why couldn't I?
Whoops. That snip was just a hair too far....
Your first bad haircut probably made you want to die a little when you looked in the mirror. Imagine how the person cutting your hair must have felt. Although, maybe they didn't care at all, as evidenced by the bs excuse they gave you when you finished in the barber chair.