It seems like America is more racially divided than ever before, and Donald Trump’s election as President of the United States is evidence of that. The FBI’s recorded that hate crimes reached a 5-year high as Trump campaigned for the presidency, and have remained high since he’s taken office.
With this spike in race-related violence—despite the fact that it’s 2017—it’s easy to become disheartened about the future of America when it comes to tolerance.
But if there’s anything this AskReddit thread about racists who eventually came around to forego their discriminatory beliefs can teach us, is that there’s always hope some people will come around.
These former racists shared their stories and what ultimately made them change their minds.
1. They realized that kindness isn't race-specific.
My father's side was very racist, but it was a black neighbor who helped feed us when we were very poor.
As I got older, I realized she didn't even like us very much, but she was a mom who hated seeing hungry kids. That had a profound effect on me when I was small. How could black people be bad if they were giving us food? I decided my father was wrong at around age six.
Saddest part, I don't even remember her name. I wish I could thank her.
2. They were held accountable for their thoughtless racial slurs.
I was in fourth grade at a summer activities program the school had. Chess, ping pong, softball if we had enough kids, that kind of thing. I got called out by a high school kid running the activities for calling another kid a "gook". He really made me think about what I was doing and what my father was teaching me. Let's just say that was the last day I ever looked up to my father.
3. They became friends with the Black kids across the street.
A black family moved across the street when I was 8.
Prior to that I wasn't anti-black, but it was apparent that they stuck together and whites stuck together, and that seemed normal.
When the family moved across the street, they had three kids just like my family with matching ages. We all quickly became friends, and I was very fortunate to learn that young that there is no inherent difference in our races. Just differences like there are between all people.
4. They changed their views because of their college experiences.
I grew up in a country town where there were not a lot of minorities around. So I never really saw or had to deal with people that weren't the same color as me. My parents can be racist sometimes but for the most part they are fine. But once Obama became president their true colors became apparent. They would constantly harassed and talk shit about him with me present so I took everything they said as the truth. They were blatantly against the Black Lives Matter movement and would act as if they were being treated unfairly by minorities.
Once I got to college though, it all changed. I started taking classes that went in depth about race relations in the U.S and I started watching documentaries on the subject as well, such as "13" and "I Am Not Your Negro" and they all helped me open my eyes to the side of society that I was completely blind to for the first 18 or so years of my life. And thats what I think is the biggest part of the whole thing is, perspective. Through these films I was able to truly get an insight on the discrimination and unfairness that minorities go through everyday. It woke me up to what the fuck was actually going on with our society.
5. A fellow gamer changed their mind.
I wouldn't say I was super racist, but I was raised in a family that seriously looked down on blacks and it may have colored my views a bit. I just accepted they weren't as smart, made dumb financial decisions, more physical and more prone to being violent. Stuff like that.
Then I found out the guy I was gaming with online for years was black. Super intelligent guy, PhD student, total weeb, and a damn good ADC to my support.
6. They decided to not take their elders' opinions at face value.
I wouldn't say I was a racist but listening to my grandmothers stories about how she's been treated during her life really shaped my opinion of white people at a very young age. I'm older and know better now but I'm still a little wary of the older generation at times.
7. This person did it to increase their chances with a girl...?
Started high school and had a crush to someone who said I'd be hotter if I wasn't racist. Kind of a sh**ty reason but I'm glad it provoked me to question things
Edit: A lot of people have mixed views about what I meant by "a sh**ty reason" -- I said that implying that it's not heroic-like or an "admirable" reason for change. It was 100% out of self-interest. Gladly enough it led me to further question my views and, although I'm not interested in the guy anymore, it's one of the many reasons that molded me into the person I am today. I'm not proud of my motive, but I am proud of no longer being racist.
There are lots of reasons, but it seems like it all boils down to having to try to defend, in person, why racism is justified. And since it really can’t be without you coming off as a total jerk, most people cave.
That and the last guy trying to be hotter to a girl, of course. At least that shallow beginning had a happy ending.