If you ever hear someone say this, "I'm not racist, but...", simply ignore them. They ARE racist. No legitimate comment is ever prefaced by those words.
Gregory and I watched Prom Night in Mississippi last night on HBO. It is a documentary about Morgan Freeman's plan to fund a prom in his home town. Up until 2007, the town had two proms: one for white students and one for black students. There aren't two separate high schools. One high school - two separate proms. Decided by the school board, racist parents and that dangerous sentiment of "tradition". Mr. Freeman promises to pay for the prom as long as it isn't segregated. It went down with a little drama. The white parents still decided that they needed to have a white-only party (lame), but the new "mixed" prom happened and without any dangerous incident.
Even before it started, I couldn't believe this still existed. But then I do. In this so-called enlightened age, I still encounter a lot of racist people. And I'm not living in the deep south. It's a sad and pathetic sight to meet a truly bigoted person. I can't speak for minorities when I sense that racism is now a very confusing and muddled issue. It's simply not okay to say that you hate black/Mexican/Indian (although in some circles, they love to hate anyone of Middle Eastern descent). I'm sure it used to be. The racism and discrimination is less blatant (for the most part) and therefore harder to change. People won't say it to your face, but they might turn you down during a job interview without real reason.
Here's where the phrase, "I'm not racist, but..." comes into play. It's annoying to me that other white people feel free to unload their bigoted statements around me - like I'm part of their racist club because I'm white. Gross. I've never expressed that opinion or given any inkling that I hate anyone for their color. But it doesn't stop them from dishing out annoying comments.
"I'm not racist, but I don't like to go to Sandcastle with my kids. Too many black people there - and they're loud." (A white person)
"I'm not racist, but I don't want to live near black people." (This gem was spoken by an Asian person).
"I'm not racist, but Barack Obama is a terrorist. My church told me so." (A relative)
"I'm not racist, but..."
But nothing! Do these people realize how stupid they sound? Loud talking is not dangerous at a freakin water park. God forbid your white children ever understand what it feels like to be in the minority for even 10 minutes. The only bad neighbors I've ever had were white people! And I cannot even acknowledge the Obama = terrorist comments.
A lot of these people know better. They are just living under the guise of tradition or what "has always been done." I don't buy that excuse. Many people in my family are racist. They wouldn't agree with me, of course. I remember very disturbing comments from my youth. But somewhere along the way - I began to think for myself. I read books; I made friends; I went to college. I began to learn about socio-economics.
And perhaps I've still got a ways to go. I'd like to think I'm not prejudiced - but how would I know for sure? I'd have to be anything but a white person to truly understand.