'The Good, Racist People'

Ta-Nehisi Coates, in an NYT op-ed:

“I am trying to imagine a white president forced to show his papers at a national news conference, and coming up blank. I am trying to a imagine a prominent white Harvard professor arrested for breaking into his own home, and coming up with nothing. I am trying to see Sean Penn or Nicolas Cage being frisked at an upscale deli, and I find myself laughing in the dark. It is worth considering the messaging here. It says to black kids: “Don’t leave home. They don’t want you around.” It is messaging propagated by moral people.”

It's disheartening to know that racism is still this prevalent in our society. As a white male and lifelong Oklahoman, I've never been the direct target of racism but I've been a witness to more of it than I care to remember.

I grew up around the kinds of rednecks who proudly displayed the Confederate flag on their trucks, or went into the military so they could exact revenge on "towel-heads" after the events of 9/11. There are still parts of town white people won't venture into at night, assuming they'll be instantly mugged at gunpoint.

A friend of our family, who happens to live in an upper-class area, once had the misfortune of attending a neighborhood meeting where people were upset about the black family that had just moved in. Apparently they thought the family was bringing down the property value of the area.

My own grandfather—who was a great man in other respects—was always extremely prejudiced towards black people. The best compliment I ever heard him give to a black person went something like, "At least he ain't lazy like other [n-word]s." When he found out that I had a crush on a black girl in high school, he told me matter-of-factly that I wouldn't be allowed to bring her over to visit. I never asked her out.

The realist in me understands that these kinds of racial prejudices will be around for many more generations, but the idealist in me yearns to see the day where they are a thing of the past.