Over the past year, race and America’s history with racism has been brought to the forefront, with many eyes being opened to our nation’s past and current abuses.
In that time, many people have devoted themselves to being anti-racist, expanding their understanding of systemic racism and working to raise awareness.
In a short time, many people’s views have changed drastically due to ongoing, national conversations on race and racism.
Reddit user Aura0_0 was interested in learning how once-racist people changed their views for the better, so they posted in the r/AskReddit subreddit:
“Ex-racist people of Reddit, what changed your views?”
The post received 8.4K comments from other users.
Here are some highlights from the thread.
Grew up with a racist step dad and although I never actually felt hate towards anyone I would laugh at and repeat the jokes. Until I was kicked out at 18 I had only met a Mexican family (my adopted neighborhood family) and a black guy I was friends with from school. They also made the jokes about their race and laughed along depending on the crowd. Wasn’t till I got older that they were doing that to fit in and could’ve been living somewhat in fear. After being kicked out I moved around a few times before finding a job working with developmentally disabled adults. I was hired as the white guy, the company and all the workers were all born in Africa and moved to the US. It was a cultural shock at first, but they immediately became family. They taught me how to cook, how to treat others, and their culture. They even made sure to teach me how they were treated in public by citizens and police. Since then I haven’t made or laughed at a single racist joke, I’ve made sure to look at everyone the same way no matter, and I’ve made sure to try and help others understand how their actions may not be racist but they can still be hurtful. I’ve met so many beautiful people that I wouldn’t have had the chance to talk to had I followed that influence growing up. If anyone who has any racist thoughts and is reading this, please just sit down and have a meal with someone. You’ll be surprised how much you have in common while also having such different lives.
When I was wounded in Iraq two white guys stepped over me (one literally stepped on my back) to get themselves to a safer place. A black guy picked me up like I was a child, carried me to safety, and held my hand until a medic got there.
Not me, but my grandpa told me that when he was young he was a bit racist, due to his a-hole alcoholic dad being really racist and teaching him to treat others of different races like trash. He told me this stopped though when he was around 13 when his dad left. He realized how stupid it was to judge others based on race, and I’m glad he realized how stupid it was since he’s a really sweet guy now.
My dad would make disparaging remarks about Black people, Mexicans, Chinese people, etc. when I was a kid. I remember repeating those same sentiments and no one ever corrected me. In first grade, we were all assigned pen pals from a school in another city and mine was a Black girl named Chardonnay. I thought she had a weird name and I was disappointed when I found out she wasn’t white.
Very soon after that, we learned some very basic info about the civil rights movement during Black history month. Martin Luther King Jr, Rosa Parks, separate water fountains, segregated schools, stuff like that. After that, I felt really bad about being racist and wanting a different pen pal, and really ashamed of my dad and grandparents for thinking that way. And I was so mad that they’d taught me to think that way. After that, I was really happy to have the opportunity to write to my pen pal and get to know her better. I’m so thankful that my school started teaching us about racism early on. It’s scary to think how I could have ended up if those sentiments had gone unchecked.
My grandma grew up in Virginia in the 1900s. Being racist is just the default setting. Nana loved her family more than anything, though. So at one point in the late 1980s, she met her first not-100%-white grandkid, and discovered she still loved him.
She made astounding late life progress accepting that darker skin toned people were not only people, but family, friends and welcome in her house.
Not me, but my best friend’s parents. They told her not to touch me because she would get my “skin disease” (I’m a brownie and at the time we met I was 12). They didn’t want us to be friends, but I would always be kind and polite to them, full well knowing how they felt about my skin color. One year my friend (at this point best friend) was having a sleepover birthday party and her parents said I could come, but couldn’t sleep over. My friend canceled her party and her parents must have felt like complete shit because they started to talk to me more and more after that. We have been best friends for almost 30 years now. Her parents came to my wedding, they send me a Christmas card every year, they call me and ask how I’m doing, and they invite me to their get togethers. I’m glad they came around and am proud of them.
Brother was racist.
We both love science fiction.
One time he was talking about all the cool races in the Star Wars and Star Trek and Mass Effect universes. How creative Lucas and Roddenberry were. He talked about how great it would be to be among those races as a human and acquaint yourself with alien cultures and people and mythology.
I said, “You can’t even mingle with the other races on your home planet.”
Maybe it was the weed, but what I said had some effect on him. He’s very noticeably more “tolerant” and curious about other peoples now. I think he realized that his previous philosophies were not in line with those of The Federation. Good for him.
Man I don’t even know where to start with this one. I grew up in the middle of f**king nowhere mississippi where the slave trade was referred to as the great African migration in our history books. Every person of color was referred to by the N-word as just the default. It wasn’t until I moved the f**k out of the south that I begin to comprehend what racism was. I wish I could say I had a moment of clarity that washed away all the racist bullshit that I’d grown up with but it was more like a couple decades worth of mental deprogramming I had to fight against. There was so much underlying hate of different people that warped how my view of the world was.
I grew up in a white bubble. White neighborhood, white schools, white friends. I wasn’t hate filled or anything towards other races, just a bit nervous due to zero experience. I heard a lot of racial epithets, but didn’t say them myself.
Going to college, I met many people of many different races, and found most of them were good people. I discovered that the same 10% asshole to 90% good people I found among white people at my high school translated to college as well. The assholes were not grouped in a particular minority, but pretty universally scattered.
Mom was surprised when I brought home a girlfriend from college who wasn’t white. Mom asked why I didn’t tell her in advance, but I didn’t think it was important. I married that girl a few years later.
A guy a worked with said he was neo-nazi as a teenager, and ended up in prison somehow. He hated jews for some reason, and blacks. He was never clear on why, just that he had so much hatred in his heart, and that was his outlet. He was in prison for many years. I think he almost killed somebody by beating them up. So, many years later and in prison there was a mentor type staff there, and this one lady was so helpful to him, and she cared about him so much that it really started to get into his head the idea of being a positive person. Then, he learned that she was Jewish, and he said he couldn’t believe she was so kind and caring despite the fact he was a claimed neo-nazi. From that day he swore to be a better person, he learned his lesson. He’s a pretty great guy these days,doing his family thing and making sure his son grows up with lots of love and all that he didn’t have. Really remarkable, great guy.