Recently I saw a video in which a woman ranted and railed against the victim of her verbal assault, calling her "wetback," talking about "her kind" being such abominations. We've all seen The Donald (or, as my son refers to him, President Bunmunch) spew racist epithets more times than we can count. People are still, in 2016, being assaulted simply for the color of their skin. The racism with which I was raised was not nearly so bold.
The racism with which I was raised was far more subtle. It could almost be dismissed if one didn't make a concerted effort to think critically and reflect. It's the kind with which a great many of us were raised, perhaps still raise our own children, without even believing it to be what it is: racism. Degree of racism does not make it better or worse. Racism, in and of itself, no matter how flagrant or indirect, is horrifying, abusive, and terribly, terribly real.
At the same time that all of this was being indirectly taught, I was also being told explicitly that racism was bad, that black kids and white kids were equal, that everyone was the same. I was taught that we shouldn't see color. Talk about mixed messages!
I never once heard anyone say the N-word. I never saw anyone in a robe and pointed white hat. Never once was I told to "get a white man" the way someone driving past me and my black boyfriend once screamed at us. Never once was a black person treated poorly or with anything other than respect and kindness in my presence.
The voices with which I was raised, the racism with which I was raised isn't erased from me simply because I've fought against them, scrubbed them with a healthy dose of critical thought and change. No. It's all still there. And when one of those deeply-seated thoughts creeps up seemingly out of nowhere, I work to stop it from becoming action, I consider why it arose, I own it as a blemish, I check my white privilege, I discuss it all with my young son, and I work to change it both in myself and, hopefully, in others along the way. This is why I write.
Hey, we can pretend we aren't racist, that we weren't raised to be that way, because we're not as blatant as Trump or David Duke, but we're doing ourselves, our kids, and our society as a whole a grave disservice if we do. Instead, I encourage us all to continue to reflect, continue to confront ourselves, and let our children see us do so in effort to help make the future generation just a little better for everyone.