I find that the first problem is allowing definitions of words to be changed. I can almost grant you 99.9% of American people are not Racist. This would require them in believing their race was superior to another or all others. I teach my children that there tools we use in life that can be used for good or bad, but ultimately they are simply tools we use through out life. These tools are prejudices and biases.
There is nothing wrong with having prejudices, as 100% of people do. It’s these prejudices that makes you think twice before walking down a dark street at night, or get in the car with someone you believe has been drinking. We use them everyday whether we want to believe so or not. We do use them (sometimes harshly) when meeting a new person, or passing by someone on a sidewalk. How someone chooses the world to see them through clothing and mannerisms speaks highly of how they should expect the world to accept them. Just using a black verses white example, very few employers are going to give a second thought of hire an individual with slashed jeans, open armed shirt, (think Larry the Cable Guy) baseball cap with a fish hook in it and are chewing on dip. Nor are they going to be falling over themselves to hire an individual with their jeans hanging 1′ below their waist, exposing any underwear, only being held in place with a belt….if they are lucky.
In both cases the persona that the individual is putting off may work well among their friends, but speaks laziness, undependable and over all not caring about themselves to employers, as well as society.
Being bias has it’s role to our lives as well. We think of greater value or dependability from many things from the toothpaste brand we buy to what car company makes a better vehicle. This is not to excuse persons that would simply make a decision based on color of skin rather then the merits of a person. This is not something that is easily removed from persons if it is deep seated. But on the other hand, it is something that through education can be eradicated through educating the next generation. Unfortunately there are those of all walks of lives that make their livings keeping unwarranted biases alive. These would include individuals such as Bob Jones to Jesse Jackson.
It has been, at least for the last 40 or so years, less about color of skin but rather culture. Just utilizing caucasians, one could provide an anthropologist a life time of study with samples from say Florida cities verses Florida crackers, Louisiana bayous verse New Yorkers, Fly over country farmers verses Los Angelenos and still possibly Montanans verses Texans. It’s all about culture.
Culture also comes from the way we speak. My grandmother would crack me over the knuckle with a ruler anytime she heard me use the word “ain’t”. Unfortunately even attempting to improve one’s speech can cause chastisement from within a culture as trying to be “pretentious”, “city-fied”, “uncle tom” or “gringo”.
It’s time we start living up to the words of Martin Luther King “I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” It is time again we accept prejudices and not deny ourselves the ability to judge the content of a person’s character.