I couldn't decide whether to put this here or in Philosophy whatnot but it seemed slightly more appropriate here. Anyway, it matters little.
I was raised in a pretty racist atmosphere. Racial epithets were used freely. Attitudes were staunchly negative towards black people. Conversations got really uncomfortable after my and my brother's bikes were stolen from the bike rack in front of the pool we belonged to, which was racially segregated. This was in the 80s by the way, not the 50s or 60s.
It never felt right to me but I didn't say much about it until I was a teen. Then I started getting mad and refusing to speak to my family if they used racist language. It became a family joke. They all had a good laugh about what an impetuous young idealist I was, and how when I got out into the real world I would understand why they felt the way they did.
Fast forward to now. I think I've been in the real world as a grownup for a few years (though maybe I'm not completely there yet) but it still bothers me when people reveal their racist attitudes. But sometimes it feels like the stakes are too high for me to speak up. It occurs to me that staying silent is nearly as bad as having the attitudes myself.
Lately I've been reading books and blogs (such as stuff white people do) about race and privilege, and about being an anti-racism ally. It has been pretty eye-opening. I know that although my intentions are good, the environment in which I was raised and just being super-white myself have blinded me to some of the more subtle kinds of racism that still exist. When I talk about race and the conversation partners are not all white, I get nervous about saying the wrong thing. It becomes all about me, rather than all about listening to their experiences and shifting the focus off of myself. (Hell, I even start threads about racism that are mostly about myself on forums, how self-centered is that?)
Not sure what my goal in starting this thread is. I guess I'd like to open a dialogue (civil) about race. My frame of reference is the US (and mostly in the South) but I'm interested in how things are in the rest of the world as well. And I guess partly I started the thread to come out as not having fully excised my own racism, as a mechanism to keep striving for that.
All thoughts welcome, as long as they're civil.