Ta-Nehisi Coates has a brilliant op-ed in the NYTimes from last week about the “good racist people”. He talks about we (modern white America) perceive racism as something that is a characteristic of “the uniquely villainous and morally deformed, the ideology of trolls, gorgons and orcs”. Yet, there is, in his words “an invisible violence” that goes unremarked (unless of course you are Forest Whitaker or Henry Louis Gates) that gets excused as a mistake.
I am not African-American, but grew up in an integrated neighborhood, and had friends of color. But, I was fairly oblivious until, when I as an adult, I watched this casual racism (mistakes by “well-meaning people”) and the response of my friends. Thick skin, we haz it. I realize that the expression “conscience raising” is a hold-over from my salad days. But that is exactly what is needed. There are casual comments by those well meaning people that are racist, sexist, homophobic, anti-religion, anti-atheist, you name it. We all, of every minority and majority, as human beings, need to learn and think. The racists, etc-ists, are not trolls, gorgons and orcs, they are us, even with the best of intentions.