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Ex-Racists, What Changed Your Views? Here’s What People Said.

I’m a huge believer in second chances.

It seems like these days, people get ostracized for changing their minds about any belief they have, so I’m very interested to see how people responded to this question.

And there’s always time to turn it around, no matter what you’ve done in your past…

If you used to hold r**ist views, what changed your mind?

AskReddit users shared their stories.

1. 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 r**ial 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% a**hole to 90% good people I found among white people at my high school translated to college as well. The a**holes 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.”

2. My hometown.

“My hometown had one of the fastest growing zip codes in the country at one point before I left for college.

However, the religious environment I grew up in (more the Catholic/Christian aspect of it – my religious upbringing is stupidly complex) was very r**ist (and h**ophobic of course, I feel like those always go hand-in-hand).

My father told me that the Bible says you shouldn’t date outside your race, and that I would never date or marry a Black or Hispanic man because he didn’t want his bloodline mixing with theirs. Don’t worry, this wasn’t his thoughts, he talked to god and god told him this!

Jokes on him, after dating a bunch of loser (just so happened to be white) guys, I was set up on a blind date with a man who happens to be Hispanic.

That was 5yrs, 5 pets, and a house purchase ago, and we’re getting engaged any day now. I had to go through a journey to becoming a decent person before that, but it started pretty immediately after I went to college and started making friends that didn’t have to be approved by my parents.

Turns out all of the people my parents hate are actually really f**king nice and supportive people once you treat them as humans. Meanwhile all of the respect and courtesy in the world won’t make my parents and less…themselves.”

3. Wow.

“Man I don’t even know where to start with this one.

I grew up in the middle of 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**k out of the south that I begin to comprehend what r**ism was. I wish I could say I had a moment of clarity that washed away all the r**ist bulls**t 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.”

4. Pen pal.

“My dad would make disparaging remarks about black people, Mexicans, and Chinese people 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 r**ist 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 r**ism early on.

It’s scary to think how I could have ended up if those sentiments had gone unchecked.”

5. The way you were raised.

“I didn’t realize I was r**ist and being raised in a r**ist 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 s**t 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.”

It still makes me sad thinking about stuff I remember saying as a kid — regurgitating things I heard my parents or relatives say. but in my experience, as I have gotten older, is that the #1 way to combat r**ism is to bring people into the same room. When people have shared experiences that sense of otherness fades away.

Of course, in 2021 and the internet bring what it is it’s really easy for people to hide in their own corners of the internet. But I’m thankful for that experience in 4th grade. I got in trouble a lot over the years for getting mad when family would throw around the “n” word or lock their doors when they saw black people.

But I knew I was right. And in the decades that have passed, nothing has tarnished or taken away that childhood lesson.”

6. That’ll change your mind.

“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.”

7. Got exposed to the world.

“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. Ho**phobic, r**ist, 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.”

8. Wake-up call.

“I inherited a lot of poor opinions and behaviours from my Dad and his family. It took me way too long to break out of that way of thinking.

There’s two key moments in my mind that were “Wait a second, this isn’t right.” sorta moment.

First, I was walking down the street in a nightlife/food area. A car drives past an Indonesian restaurant with a man hanging out the window who screams “G**K!” at the workers. I remember thinking that it was just kinda f**ked up, they were just doing their thing.

The second, my partner and I were having a little double date with some friends and we both cracked a tasteless/r**ist joke – can’t remember what it was. My best friends wife turns to my girlfriend and says “I expect this from him, but not from you.”

That was the real wake up call from me. That my behavior was unacceptable, insulting and worst of all people just expected it from me. Since then I have worked hard to re-evaluate my behaviours and view them from a critical perspective. It’s been tough but I think I’m better for it.”

9. Toxic environment.

“My dad was r**ist.

I was raised in a toxic environment and I guess some of his ideologies rubbed off on me. He was also violent when alcohol was involved, which was a lot of the time. Police would often arrest him to just get him in a cell for the night for being disorderly.

On one occasion, the police turned up, one of them came into my room and sat with me as they dealt with my dad. He asked how I was, who I could talk to, etc. He was from a South Asian background. He was very kind to me and did his best in calming me down and giving me advice on dealing with this stuff. I was only about 15 at the time.

As they were pulling my dad out, that same police officer was attacked by my dad after breaking free from another officer, breaking the officer’s finger in the process, whilst also hurling verbal, r**ial abuse at him. It wasn’t long after the London bombings so you can imagine what was said.

My dad was also an electrician in Russell Square at the time, close to one of the blasts. The officer didn’t react, probably knowing I was watching the commotion from my room or the fact he was a decent human being.

My dad was convicted of multiple offenses against a police officer as well as a hate crime. The only silver lining was as my dad was being sentenced, the prosecutor was a black man who casually read out the testimony of the arresting officer of what my dad said that night.

The prosecutor could barely keep a straight face, watching my dad hold his head in shame, dressed in plastic overalls because he thought stuffing his clothes down the toilet of his jail cell and flooding the place would be funny. He got community service, probation and was required to attend rehab. He relapsed a a few years ago and can barely walk or talk because of multiple strokes from continued alcohol dependency.

The people responsible for protecting me from my dad were people of color. That sure as hell changes your perspective on things even if you have the slightest ignorance towards another race.”

10. We’re all just humans.

“Moving out of a predominantly white neighborhood and meeting people of differences races and back rounds.

Realizing they are just people like you trying to live their lives.”

11. Self-examination.

“Left the church and my conservative family.

Started examining myself closely.

The really tricky thing about being a r**ist is that you never think you’re a r**ist at the time. In the moment you feel like you’re just “quoting statistics” or “calling it how it is”, etc.

It takes a lot of work to actually stop, look at yourself, and then dig that ugly r**ist worm out of your heart.”

12. They became family.

“Grew up with a r**ist 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 r**ist 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 r**ist 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 r**ist 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.”

Do you know anyone who has gone through these kinds of changes?

If so, please tell us about it in the comments.

We’d love to hear from you.