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Former Racists Reveal What Made Them Change Their Ways

©The Blue Diamond Gallery

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A lot of the threads on AskReddit are pretty silly, but not this one.

AskReddit users who used to have racist beliefs share what made them reevaluate their lives and change their ways. Hopefully, these responses will rub off some other people.

1. Just meet people

“Met black people, met asians.

Realized they’re just people and it took more energy to hate them irrationally than it did to just… Not. From there it was easy to not be racist against others.”

2. Words of wisdom

“The military.

We all bleed red.”

3. Mum

“I wasn’t racist but my mum was. I had a middle-eastern friend and she realised she’s not a terrorist that race doesn’t make you a terrorist – being a terrorist does.”

4. Australia

“This is gonna sound ridiculous but I grew up white trash in Australia in a very white suburb, where somehow immigrants (that didn’t exist to any great degree) were the problem (not the rampant spousal and child abuse /drug addiction).

I (and many others) grew up being taught that hate. For me the first time I really was confronted with that I was 9 and Changes by Tupac released and it blew my mind.

By the time I got to highschool and had to interact with actual ESL immigrants I was thankfully not a racist.”

5. Always a good idea

“Travelling.

To actually experience the culture of other people is a brutal eye-opener.”

6. Interesting

“I realized that I didn’t dislike black people for being black…I disliked pretty much everyone regardless of color. Just lived in a sh-tty area and everyone was sh-tty.

Left and everything got better.”

7. A new environment

“Leaving home. My mom is Japanese and raised me Japanese, racism and all. I left my house late 17y/o and now that I’ve lived on my own, I grew to be myself, and with that, grew up mentally.”

8. Gay

“This is in the same vein, but not actually racism. I was raised in a Baptist church. My family simply didn’t discuss gay people because there was no reason to. As I grew up, I became pretty homophobic due to the church. Not as bad as the absolute psychopaths you see. But, bad enough.

Then, I worked at this place when I was like 20 and made a friend named Marlon. He was an older guy, in his 60’s, but cool as hell. We used to talk and hang out for hours. He gave me a DVD box set of ‘Carl Sagan’s Cosmos’ was just an all around good guy.

Then one day, he stopped me and was like. ‘Were you at a gay club this weekend?’ I told him I wasn’t and he was like ‘Oh, I saw your twin there then.’ I kind of laughed it off and went on. Then, a few minutes later the realization hit me and I went back to him and was like ‘You were at a gay club, are you gay?’ he confirmed that he in fact he was.

At this point I had a decision to make, this guy who I thoroughly respected and really liked. What do I do about him? Do I hold onto my prejudice, or do I admit I was wrong? The decision was easy to make once I thought about it, took less than two seconds. Suffice to say now I go to gay pride festivals, I keep a dog tag I got from one on my key ring and I’m a huge supporter of LGBT rights.

I know he wasn’t trying to change anything about me. But he did, in a profound way. Not only did he make me think different about gay people, but he also made me think about all my prejudices and that helped me become who I am today.”

9. One on one

“One on one time with white people.

I had bad experiences with white peers when I was a kid. I was always left out and felt ostracized. As an adult, I still feel that way sometimes. It helps to have one on one time with acquaintances and friends who are white. You get a better sense of their inner monologue. By finding common ground, you make better assumptions about them even in their absence.”

10. Growing up

“A part of my family is racist. There are pictures of child me with David Duke when he was running for some office. I’m not sure what he was running for.

I’d say just growing up and experiencing life.

Southeast Texas can be rough in areas and I’ve had good and bad things happen from all races. My uncle and granddad told me they’d beat me if I dated a black girl. Stupid things like that. Everyone is just trying to make a life for themselves and I see no reason to hate a race.”

11. Don’t generalize

“I was raised to not be racist. I didn’t even recognize being white as a child, I told people I was peach colored. I had best friends who were black, Spanish, Middle Eastern.

Then I went into a group home. My friend was jumped for being white, I was made fun of, got yelled at walking down the street, called snow bunny, was told I could never understand hard times. And for a long time it made me bitter and judgemental.

Now that I’m out of those situations I don’t generalize anymore and I’m back to my old self.”

12. A new lifestyle

“Ooh i can finally answer one of these in a serious way. So i was raised in the bible belt by a super far right dad.

My mom and sister were pretty normal, but growing up I hated Obama and i was on the email list for a couple groups that were extremely pro second amendment and far right. This seemed normal to me and all through out high school I acted like a jack a– to people in my school who weren’t white or supported a liberal agenda.

Eventually i went off to college.. took a year off.. and moved back in with my dad while I saved up money to hike the Pacific Crest Trail on the West Coast. During that year that I took off I interacted with so many minorities and liberals and people who I would have hated in high school. But after living a ‘hippy’ lifestyle for 2 months while hikking the PCT and even living at a “Eco-Feminist-Hostel” in Hawai’i for 2 months I became a lot more chill.

Now I’m no longer racist and I’m a lot less likely to judge someone for their beliefs no matter what they are.”

13. No brainwashing

“I was raised by racist parents and grandparents but I just grew up and formed my own ideas.

Public school helped, most of my friends were Mexican as we lived in a mostly Mexican town growing up. It wasn’t a big realization or anything. After I turned 9 I stopped believing in God, stopped being racist. By 12 I was interested in politics and left leaning while my parents are die hard republicans. I just formed my own ideas and didn’t let them brainwash me.”

14. Some wise words

“My hometown still has an active and organized arm of the KKK, and there were cross burnings and race riots around 2003, so this was where I grew up, and I’m happy the N-word doesn’t appear as the first unconscious thought I have when I see a black person.

It feels weird saying ‘black person’, or ‘Hispanic’ nowadays, thanks to the US military.

I came out of the service around 2011, and it took a couple of years before I ‘got’ that racism is still a big thing out here. I just forgot that skin color mattered while in there.

Still seems so d-mned stupid that you’re going to divide yourselves because of how our ancestors evolved protection against sunlight.

Don’t we have mutual enemies to fight? People that need our help? Children to raise and protect?

Are we this devoid of better things to do?”

15. Again, meet people

“I met a holocaust survivor.

He was a child at the camp in Sobibor. It was a life changing experience. Without it, I’d probably have ended up being part of the alt-right. Instead, I got a real wake up call and have taken to being a major supporter or human rights.”