(Closed) Why are people racists?

posted 7 years ago in The Lounge
Post # 3
11232 posts
Sugar Beekeeper
  • Wedding: August 2013

My first answer was that people are stupid. I grew up in a tiny midwestern town where you could count the number of non-white students on one hand (and where several morons born in the north would come to school with a Confederate flag on their truck). When I moved, I viewed everyone the same. I never understood it.

Post # 5
1042 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: December 2013

I come from a primarily AA city/area/school system, and people are SO racist/racially prejudiced. I don’t understand it. We’ve all had the opportunity to interact with kind and intelligent people of all races, and yet half of the people where I live insist that the other race is full of thugs, or redneck idiots. It makes no sense to me.

ETA: Not everyone is racist. Many, many, people where I live are huge advocates against all discrimination. But still…there’s a loud minority who are just plain mean!

Post # 6
533 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: June 2013

I think some people get pleasure and feel better about themselves when they look down on other people. Unfortunately, my grandmother is quite racist- she comes from a very poor background. I’m pretty sure when she was growing up, she experienced a lot of discrimination from coming from a poor Catholic family. You would have thought she would feel sympathy for other marginalized groups, but instead I think she felt like, “Well, I might be poor, but I sure am better than *these people.*”

That’s probably just one explanation, I am sure there are others, but I think it holds pretty true. But what stands out to me is that my grandmother has those view, but none of her eight children do.

Post # 7
1562 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: November 2011

I think it has to do with how you are raised, somewhat.  At least in my case – I was raised by very racist parents, and when I moved to college, I found myself acting the same at first.  Looking back now, I see how wrong I was, but it was definetly hard to move away from how I was “brainwashed”.

Post # 8
275 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: September 2013

I think you’re raised to be racist. If you look at young children, they definitely have no opinion of people based off how they look…until they’re told to.

Post # 9
4505 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: September 2010

Ignorance & fear

Post # 10
353 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: August 2012

Americans have a history of blaming the “newest” big cultural group in the country for all of our problems.

So we had our Anglo-Saxon settlers in the 16/1700s, and then in the 1800s,  Chinese immigrants started coming over, and they were the target of vicious racism, then it was the Italians (in Boston, it was common for Italians to be referred to as “half-n***ers”), then the Irish, then the Polish, and after the Civil Rights movement, African Americans became a target because they finally had the same rights, and now it seems like Hispanic and/or Muslim immigrants take the brunt of our national racism – but of course it still exists towards other cultures as well. 

Some just tend to just deal with life as fearful and bitter people.  I think those “emotions” are the root of racism.

Post # 11
1297 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: November 1999

I really wish I had a good answer.

I think some of it is herd mentality and wanting to be part of a group. I know that sounds weird to be excluding people in order to be part of something… but I think sometimes all that people have in common, is that they aren’t *this other group*. And then they belong to something.

Another part is superiority like chocolatecoveredstrawberry said. People make themselves feel better about their situations by saying, “Well, at least I’m not THAT”.

I wish I could say it’s all just unfamiliarity and ignorance, and that if we all just knew each other, we’d get along. But, it seems like the strongest racist sentiments in my area are towards minorities that have large groups in that area, while there’s not as strong of racist feelings towards minorities that aren’t as common. Does anybody else see that where they are from?

Post # 12
344 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: September 2012

People need someone to blame. It’s sad. 

Post # 13
899 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: November 2011

I’m going to go against the grain here and say that I think everyone is a little bit racist (like the Avenue Q song). 

I think it’s easier to believe you aren’t racist when you are surounded by your own race, or people of many races who are very similar to you in education/hobbies/income level and who you ultimately share a similar culture with.

It’s also easier if you are white, because in white american culture, we are taught that “we are all the same”.  White american parents teach that to their children because we’re ashamed of our history in the US and this is our way of fixing it.  Black american culture, for example, does not necessarily teach that “we are all the same”.  AA parents teach their children that being black is a very different experience from being white, or any other ethnicity in the U.S.

It’s much, much harder to believe you aren’t racist when you live in a place where you are the ethnic minority, and see you the same “stereotypes” perpetuated again and again and you start to forget that there are people outside of where you live who exist and don’t fit that stereotype.


If that doesn’t make sense, I can give you an example. I grew up in a small town in southwest texas that basically just had two ethnicities: white and hispanic. I grew up laregely oblivious to race, although I understood differences in last names and languages spoken at home.  But I honestly thought (and still think) that MY culture as a “white” person was very much tex-mex.  Meaning, I grew up with Mexican and White friends, my teachers were both ethnicities, my principal was hispanic, half our school board was hispanic, the town mayor was hispanic, our police chief was hispanic.  I definitely didn’t grow up feeling different or picked on though, so I guess I grew up in bubble that way.  I did think it was normal for school cafeterias to serve tamales, chalupas, and elotes for lunch.  I thought this was “my” cultures food too (well, I still think that).

Then I went to college in a big city, and I cultivated a group of friends that were from different ethnicities, but we still had the same education level and hobbies.

Then I moved to a big city, where I cultivated an even more diverse group of close friends, consisting of more and more non-americans of all different races/religions/worldviews. but again, we still had the same educational backgrounds, same interests, same income levels.

All this time I thought, “well look at me.  I’m white, and I’m not racist”.  Kind of a mental pat-on-the-back. 

Then I worked for 9 years in an inner city, low income school district.  And a lot of these “stereotypes” that I’d heard about about other races confronted me on a daily basis, every day, all day.

That’s when I began to discover that people are NOT “all the same” no matter what their skin color is.  I think we as americans (and really, we as people of the world) need to aknowledge that sometimes yes, skin color does come attached with an entire culture.  A culture that is different from other cultures.  We are not all the same–we have different ways of speaking, different cultural norms and values, different family rituals.  Two people can grow up in the exact same town in the same years and have two totally different experiences because they have different skin colors.

We should acknowledge these differences rather than telling ourselves that “we are all the same”, you know? 


Case in point: One summer, I was traveling solo around Europe.  In greece, I met two other american girls who were also each traveling solo.  Every where we went, people would ask us where we were from.  We would say the U.S….and the greeks would be like, yeah we know SHE’S american (meaning me), but where are you two from? (meaning the other girls).  One girl was chinese-american, from NY…the other girl was also from Texas and her parents were from India.  All three of us were born-and-raised americans.  None of us had an accent.  But we had three different experiences in Greece. 

Post # 15
642 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: February 2013

Well I think we need to distinguish between implicit and explicit racism. Explicit racism (like, actively doing hateful things to other races) is really just caused by idiocy. There people have a conscious (not sub-conscious) idea that their race is inherently better than another. I have really no good explanation there.

Implicit racism is more of a sub-conscious thing. Most people who are implicitly racist (and, I think, at some level we all are, it’s just a matter of how hard we consciously try to fight against it) don’t actually think they’re racist at all. “Oh it’s ok for me to make that joke, I have black friends.” That type. It’s the subtle judgments that happen in the split second you see someone for the first time. It’s assuming that your asian friend will be good at math, without ever really stopping to consider if they have ever given you any evidence that they are. I think our brains create stereotypes as a way to expedite social interactions, and that’s why, I think at some level, we all are guilty of this (if not with race, then with gender or religion or sexual orientation or you name it). I think not being this kind of racist just really depends on how consciously you put forth an effort to correct yourself mentally every time you catch yourself making that kind of judgment.

Post # 16
255 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: September 2012

We actually watched a very interesting report on Dateline a few weeks ago where they showed the even babies (6 months and younger) have the tendency to want to play with people like them, and they actually want others who are not like them “punished.”  I just believe that it’s the parent’s duty to teach them better.

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