I am going to go out on a limb and tell you something that may make some of you very angry at me for even uttering the words. Are you ready? Here goes.
I'm a prejudiced, bigoted racist.
I didn't used to be. I was raised to accept people of different races and cultures and beliefs and to view them as just people with the same thoughts, feelings and desires as myself. Well, maybe not the same, but similar. You get my point.
Ok, then a funny thing happened. I moved to a highly racially-charged town. Now, I remember hearing about race riots occuring back in the early 90s, but that was a long time ago, and I pretty much figured that it was because of the Rodney King trial and had nothing to do with the town itself. Wow, was I wrong.
After living there for over two years, I can tell you that racial tensions are high because of the blatant bigotry and racism exhibited by the city council (raising their salaries, refusing to increase police patrols in “at risk” neighborhoods, kicking the last remaining black man off the city council, etc.) And because of the perceived racism by the "priveleged" class in town. It is almost a "I'll get you before you get me" mentality.
Now, not realizing the racial undertones in the community, I went about my business as I had always done. However, it did not take me long to realize that something was amiss. As groups of black middle school students would walk down my street, a tense silence was all that my cheery hello elicited. On one occassion, a black boy was scattering paper from a folder every few steps and had created a minor paper snow bank for over a block and a half. When he got to the area in front of my house, I said, "Hey, why are you doing that?" The other middle school kids that were with him ignored me completely, and he only looked at me with the utmost contempt before telling me, "Shut up, cowgirl." You can imagine my shock. I'm not used to kids acting like this!
Over the two plus years I lived there, I came to feel resentment and frustration as groups of young black kids roamed basically at-will throughout the neighborhood, harassing the younger kids, stealing anything that was left unattended in someone's yard, and raising general havoc. My house was hit with paintballs and eggs. My bike, Birkenstocks, basketball, and various other items were all stolen right out of my yard. My car was broken into twice. My children couldn't even go to the park that was in our neighborhood because of the large groups of unaccompanied minors behaving badly. I began to feel like a prisoner in my own home. I couldn't wait to get out of that town.
So, in the course of living there, I came to be prejudiced. I learned that young black kids had no respect for me. They would steal from me, ignore me, and tell me to shut up. They would vandalize my house. And in all of these interactions, parents were no where to be seen.
It wasn't just the kids. The adults were just as bad. I had a scary incident outside my home where a truck came to a screeching halt and tried to drag a woman into it. I called the police immediately and ran outside to see if I could help. The woman, who apparently knew the man, refused to acknowledge my offer for help and the guy jumped back in his truck and drove away. About fifteen minutes later the cops trolled on by in response to my call.
If I were black living in that town, I might resent the white people, too. After all, there's a long history there. However, I guess there comes a point where a person is responsible for their own behavior regardless of what other people might think about them based on the color of their skin. They don't have to roam unaccompanied or steal or sneak into my yard at night or yell profanities up and down the street or go by with their stereo cranked up and "nigga" being thumped out for all the world to hear. These are cultural behaviors that are being virtually ignored by the elder blacks in the community. I didn't see any black adults or parents correcting these kids or taking notice of their behavior. So, if the kids are this way, they'll eventually grow into adults and then how are they going to act?
I don't believe it is right to judge someone by the color of their skin. But when a particular race continues to act in a certain way, it becomes characteristic of that race. So now when I see a black person, I have certain expectations about their behavior based on these experiences. And because these experiences have been for the most part bad, my expectations are wary at best. And that, folks, makes me a bigoted, prejudiced racist.