15 Former Racists Share What It Was That Finally Changed Their Perspectives
For most people, we see others as equals no matter what color their skin, what part of the world their family is originally from, or what religion they believe in. Not everyone feels that way.
Racism is a sensitive topic, but the good news is that not everyone who was racist once upon a time is racist forever. In fact, many people have had eye-opening experiences that made them realize their perspective was completely wrong.
Reddit user Aura0_0 asked, “Ex-Racist people of reddit, What changed your views?”
First of all, we have to point out that it’s quite brave of these Reddit users to admit that they were once racist. Their stories are honest, and some Reddit users even commented that reading these stories made them cry. Grab a tissue and get ready to hear the truth about what it took for some former racists to see people for who they really are on the inside instead of making snap judgements based on their race.
Reddit user Appledoo wrote:
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.
“Hired as the White Guy”
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.
A Black Pen Pal
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.
Got Out of a White Bubble
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.
“The Great African Migration”
Man I don’t even know where to start with this one. I grew up in the middle of f***ing 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*** 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 bullsh** 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.
“My Parents Were Wrong”
I didn’t realize I was racist and being raised in a racist household until 4th grade. I was in a group project having to give a presentation to the class. my group was me and two black girls.my parents HATED black women. black people in general but especially black women (as they both watch tennis you can guess all the shit they said about the williams sisters). Meanwhile, there I was standing there watching my group mates talk. They were just as good, if not better than me, at talking in the class. Or understanding the material. Or anything really. I can still see that moment where the class fades away in my mind and a one of my group mates is talking to the class where I realize a fundamental truth: “my parents were wrong.”
A Story About Grandpa
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.
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.
In the Army
The Army forced me to live with black people. Turns out I didn’t hate anyone, I was just afraid of what I didn’t understand and had some very stupid notions passed on to me from my dad and his dipsh** friends.I will forever be grateful for the opportunity to understand a greater sample of people than my tiny home town afforded me.
This is my dad’s answer. He told me he was “raised racist by racists who didn’t understand” I guess as a way to soften the blow of saying his parents were racists. Anyway, then he went to Vietnam, and said the black guys in his unit missed their girlfriends and mothers the same as he did and got scared and angry the same as he did, and bled the same as he did. That was the beginning of him realizing we were all pretty much the same.
Leaving Small Town Life
Getting out of tiny home towns is huge when it comes to growing and becoming a better person. When I was in HS, I was awful. Homophobic, moderately racist, completely regressive politically, etc. It only took about a month of living in a bigger, diverse city to start realizing I was horribly wrong about basically everything.
Talking to People
Learning about people by talking to them instead of listening to what my family had to say about them
The Grandkids Changed Their Minds
My grandparents are 100% racist. When they found out I was having a child with a half white-half micronesian, they “disowned” me. When they met my kids, they thought they were fantastic great grand children. They admire their tan skin and say they are more “real” than my sibling’s kids.
Watching “New Girl”
Not me, but my first roommate out of college who grew up in rural PA told me that watching New Girl made her less racist. Her parents were super racist (and her brother was a literal neo-nazi convicted of a hate crime). But watching the show in her teens and seeing people of a bunch of different races have normal and positive interactions was mind-blowing because her parents literally taught her it was impossible. That opened her up to meeting all different types of people.Then she went to college and met people from all different backgrounds and became good friends and formed relationships with them. She even ended up marrying a mixed-race man and they’re quite happy with a baby. Her family does not speak to her, but I am certain she’s better off.