It is no hidden fact that racism is a huge part of our society. There are so many people out there who have rigid beliefs in life. But instead of focusing on the bad, let us hope that there will be a better tomorrow.

As you scroll down, you will see heartfelt stories that people shared candidly on an emotional thread on the r/AskReddit subreddit. These people shared how their views drastically change on racism, and we hope, that if you are a racist, you transform and become an ex-racist soon.

1

From birth I was raised to be racist in a racist household (VA). I was ignorant. I used the “N” word, antisemitic, homophobic, racist language everyday. My immediate family and extended family all share the same ignorance. At family gatherings if one of my older cousins let slip they were dating someone new, the first question would be “Is s/he white?” Followed by laughter, but the question was serious. Then I started middle school. 6th grade. On the first day of class I set down my backpack against the classroom wall (like every other student) while we found our desks and had a small Meet & Greet w/ new classmates. I made sure to only speak to the kids (white) whom I knew from elementary school. Our teacher told us to take our seats. I’m 42 yrs old and I remember this like it was yesterday. I picked up my backpack, found my desk, before I could open my bag the girl behind me told me she liked my earrings, her Mom wouldn’t let her get her ears pierced until high school. Then I heard another voice from further behind me say, “Ms. Kay, this isn’t my backpack”. The backpack sitting on this girl’s desk was identical to the one sitting next to my desk. We both opened our backpacks and realized we’d grabbed the wrong bag. Internally I rolled my eyes in disgust, this girl was a “N”. But I was taught to never let it show. So we met each other to quickly exchange. Her smile was beautiful. She wore glasses the same shape as mine. She wore her hair in a pony tail, just like mine. In our back to school shopping we picked the exact same backpack and we picked the exact same Nikes (pink/white). Her name was Jacinda. I found myself genuinely smiling back to her, and giggling like young girls do. That day she asked to sit together during lunch, and we sat beside each other for lunch every single day of middle school. She was my very first best friend. Jacinda taught me about her Sunday School classes (my family never attended church), we talked about everything important in the life of middle school girls. She wasn’t allowed to attend my birthday parties, and I wasn’t allowed to go to hers, but we always celebrated together at school. I loved her so much. When it was time to go to high school I continued in public school and her parents chose to homeschool her. I thought homeschooling was the coolest idea. Jacinda was (is) brilliantly intelligent. God, she was going to do great things for this world. Long before the age of social media, we lost touch sadly – but I still think of her often. After meeting Jacinda I never used another racist or derogatory word. Meeting Jacinda changed my life for the better.

2

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.

3

Brother was racist. We both love science fiction. One time he was talking about all the cool races in the ‘Star Wars’ and ‘Star Trek’ and ‘Mass Effect’ universes. How creative Lucas and Roddenberry were. He talked about how great it would be to be among those races as a human and acquaint yourself with alien cultures and people and mythology. I said, ‘You can’t even mingle with the other races on your home planet.’ Maybe it was the weed, but what I said had some effect on him. He’s very noticeably more ‘tolerant’ and curious about other peoples now. I think he realized that his previous philosophies were not in line with those of The Federation. Good for him.

4

The Army forced me to live with black people. Turns out I didn’t hate anyone, I was just afraid of what I didn’t understand and had some very stupid notions passed on to me from my dad and his dipsh*t friends. I will forever be grateful for the opportunity to understand a greater sample of people than my tiny home town afforded me.

5

Not me, but my best friend’s parents. They told her not to touch me because she would get my “skin disease” (I’m a brownie and at the time we met I was 12). They didn’t want us to be friends, but I would always be kind and polite to them, full well knowing how they felt about my skin color. One year my friend (at this point best friend) was having a sleepover birthday party and her parents said I could come, but couldn’t sleep over. My friend canceled her party and her parents must have felt like complete s**t because they started to talk to me more and more after that. We have been best friends for almost 30 years now. Her parents came to my wedding, they send me a Christmas card every year, they call me and ask how I’m doing, and they invite me to their get togethers. I’m glad they came around and am proud of them.

6

My dad would make disparaging remarks about Black people, Mexicans, Chinese people, etc. 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 racist 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 racism early on. It’s scary to think how I could have ended up if those sentiments had gone unchecked.

7

I used to hate white people like A LOT for no reason. I would always think they were evil and monsters. I was absolutely disgusted when I went to school and saw black people hanging out with white people. Until I realized the beauty in how they didn’t care about the color of each other’s skin. I felt so ashamed of judging someone because of their race. Now I treat white people the same as everyone else.

8

My great aunt and I had a conversation before she passed away. She lived her whole life in New Zealand, and admitted to me that she was racist against the indigenous people of New Zealand. Way back in the day, her and her husband bought a house on what, they didn’t realize, was Maori sacred land. They were the first people on the street, but it was eventually filled up. Over the years they had lots of run ins with the elders, and even protesters. This tension only worsened her ideas of Maori people. (Her and I are both spiritual/religious people, and had already talked about our respective beliefs a bit) She said that one day the Holy Spirit told her to learn the Maori language. She said she resisted the thought for a long time, but eventually decided to. Learning the language connected her with Maori culture, and more importantly, directly with Maori people. She learned to love their culture, and continued going to lessons for the remainder of her life. They also demolished their house, and built a new house down the road. So if you’re ever in New Zealand, and find a street where the house numbered 1 is planted firmly between three and four, you’ve found the house of my family; too stubborn to change their house number, but willing enough to knock over their old one for people they didn’t know.

9

I know this isn’t the exact question, but I was raised in a strict military Republican household. Though my family wasn’t raciest, they were extremely homophobic and beloved women belong in the home and in their place. They would make fun of lesbians and gay men throughout my whole life, speak poorly of women working outside the home. When I was 18 I met a guy at my local coffee shop in a very red town/state. I couldn’t decided if I wanted to date him or take him shopping and hang out- he was just super cool we made plans and later ate hot wings and drank wine. I had never felt more myself than when I was with him. I had to forgot any financial adult backing in college because my new “lifestyle” didn’t meet my families ideas. This was absolutely ok with me and I charged through challenge happily while accumulating debt. Turns out he ran away from his home and was cut off from his family for being gay. He became my roommate for more than 9 years and my best friend in the world. (And my room mate I mean I always had a place for him to stay in my own home and he always seemed to move right in in the most natural way possible- literally he just was always there in my home through every stage of life for a decade) He introduced me to the gay community and as a female, instead of getting harassed at a club, I could go out dancing with him and have a blast and be safe all night. He became my family and closest confidant over the years. My family didn’t take kindly to this friendship, nor did they like that I became a business owner. They no longer speak to me and I am so happy to be the black sheep. Anyway, I’m so so so glad I met him, and he changed my life. I would have been comfortable in my conservative bubble and probably never questioned my views. His friendship made me open my eyes to not only the world of possibilities but also my own views of what I was raised with- he challenged me and made me a better person and I’ll always be grateful for the absolute gift he gave me. Because I was now a safe person with views different than what my small town was used to, I became a safe friend for people to come out to. And my god it’s been the honor of my life to grow, find acceptance, and apply acceptance blindly.

10

Left the church and my conservative family. Started examining myself closely. The really tricky thing about being a racist is that you never think you’re a racist 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 racist worm out of your heart.

11

I don’t think I was racist – but I do think I was a part of the problem. I didn’t understand racism and thereby passively condoned it. For example – I was convinced that black men being killed by the police was really a police-reform issue, and not a systemic racism issue. This is, looking back, the most dangerous type of racism. What changed was the George Floyd murder video. As a white man, I’ve been mistreated by police but I have never… ever… ever… felt like “you know they just might kill me” and that is, in summary, my idea of white privilege really is in America. That someone could be killed, on video, in broad daylight, with witnesses begging for his life – and the police felt confident it would work out just fine – is systemic overarching racism that flows through the heart of this country. Passively condoning that is still racism.

12

My grandfather was incredibly racist; Kicked his daughter out of the house for falling in love with my father, a black man. He assumed, if he cut her off, she’d be desperate enough for food and shelter to ditch my father. Didn’t work out that way. But, of course, that changed when my older sister was born. Because hatred is powerful, but something is more powerful. Not love. Ribs. My father cooked ribs to celebrate the birth of my sister, and my grandfather – Who had been browbeaten by my grandmother into visiting to meet his granddaughter – Smelled the ribs. And he wanted to try them. Apparently, he declared “If these n*** can cook like this, maybe they’re worth a damn.” So, it became a ritual. He started coming over twice a month to eat dad’s ribs, and in the process, was exposed to more and more black people. He ended up apologizing, and came ‘round. All due to the power of ribs.

13

My dad was racist. 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, racial 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 offences 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 colour. That sure as hell changes your perspective on things even if you have the slightest ignorance towards another race. TL;DR: Dad was a violent racist dressed in prison overalls, sentenced by educated black guy in suit.

14

I’m black, and was essentially taught not to trust whites. My dad was from 60s Detroit and I learned that from him. I wasn’t vocal about it, but I certainly treated them different. When I joined the Army, I left my foot locker unlocked and my sh*t was tossed everywhere. It was my older white bunk mate that I NEVER TALKED TO who picked up all of my sh*t and put it back in my locker neatly. Dude practically took care of me the whole time I was there, I was just a sh*tbag teenager with zero responsibility. At first, I considered him an exception and slowly backed off my belief in that regard. Character, not color.

15

Learning about people by talking to them instead of listening to what my family had to say about them

16

I didn’t realize I was racist and being raised in a racist 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 racism 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.

17

A guy I worked with said he was neo-nazi as a teenager, and ended up in prison somehow. He hated jews for some reason, and blacks. He was never clear on why, just that he had so much hatred in his heart, and that was his outlet. He was in prison for many years. I think he almost killed somebody by beating them up. So, many years later and in prison there was a mentor type staff there, and this one lady was so helpful to him, and she cared about him so much that it really started to get into his head the idea of being a positive person. Then, he learned that she was Jewish, and he said he couldn’t believe she was so kind and caring despite the fact he was a claimed neo-nazi. From that day he swore to be a better person, he learned his lesson. He’s a pretty great guy these days, doing his family thing and making sure his son grows up with lots of love and all that he didn’t have. Really remarkable, great guy.

18

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 racial 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% as**ole to 90% good people I found among white people at my high school translated to college as well. The as**oles 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.

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20

Man I don’t even know where to start with this one. I grew up in the middle of f**king 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 hell out of the south that I begin to comprehend what racism was. I wish I could say I had a moment of clarity that washed away all the racist 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.

21

I never thought I was racist until I started going to the bars. If a white dude was hitting on me, I’d usually accept a drink and politely turn him down (or not) later that night. If a black man did the same, I got really uncomfortable and would just ignore them completely. As a young white girl, I was taught that black men were dangerous sexual predators. This is something I carried into my adult life. One night, among many nights where I went out with my friends, it randomly occurred to me that I reacted to black men immensely different than white men… for doing the same exact thing. I didn’t know why, but I decided that night that I wasn’t going to do that anymore. It led me to realize many other odd racist things I did in my day to day life, without even realizing I was doing them.

22

Not me, but my grandpa told me that when he was young he was a bit racist, due to his a-hole alcoholic dad being really racist and teaching him to treat others of different races like trash. He told me this stopped though when he was around 13 when his dad left. He realized how stupid it was to judge others based on race, and I’m glad he realized how stupid it was since he’s a really sweet guy now.

23

24

My whole family is quite racist. When I was little I was trying to wrap my head around the rules of the world, so I thought it was as simple as different teams. Blacks vs Whites was just like the Red Sox vs the Tigers. Then my grandmother starts going on about how horrible Polish people are and how I’m never to talk to them. So I’m psyched! Screw those Polish people, whatever color they are, we’re mortal enemies. Then she points out our Polish neighbor to me. But… she’s white. I point out to my grandmother that she’s white so we’re on the same team. My grandmother says no, that she’s a mix-breed. I point out that my great granddad was a Shoshone Indian and that I’m a mix-breed. She says that doesn’t count. That’s when I realized she was just making up the rules and I wasn’t going to play games with someone who couldn’t stick to the rules.

25

I saw (and still see) how miserable my older family members are because they continuously judge and hate everyone. They have no friends. It’s pathetic.

26

27

Grew up with a racist 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 racist 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 racist 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 racist 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.

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29

I grew up in a very small town in Iowa. Couple of hundred people. All white. So I guess I was raised not to discriminate against people that were different from me because we were all the same. Once I got older and moved to the city, oh yeah. Racism is alive and well in Iowa. I didn’t fall into that trap. I didn’t understand it. Ended up in Alabama. My best friend was black. We just had the same sense of humor and liked the same things. I credit him with my kids being non racist. He would crack jokes about racial things and they would be shocked. As they got older they just rolled their eyes. Funniest thing was one of my daughters date shows up and he opens the door and introduced himself as her dad. He moved to Michigan. I miss Charles.

30

My grandma grew up in Virginia in the 1900s. Being racist is just the default setting. Nana loved her family more than anything, though. So at one point in the late 1980s, she met her first not-100%-white grandkid, and discovered she still loved him. She made astounding late life progress accepting that darker skin toned people were not only people, but family, friends and welcome in her house.
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