Ever know any bigots who changed their attitudes?

My inlaws would probably count. My wife has told me some horror stories about the stuff they used to say back in the day. But when a Hispanic guy married into the family, they seemed to be absolutely welcoming and never had anything but nice things to say about him.
OTOH they thought Obama was a Muslim. But they still voted for him anyway.


I was raised in a bigoted, misogynistic, racist, homophobic household and culture. I could tell you dozens of jokes about blacks (and a few about Hispanics) that would make an 85 IQ Klanner laugh until his remaining teeth fell out. I could tell you why all gays should be rounded up to protect us all, and why women should not work.

However, I think this was a superficial. I didn’t really believe it, as much as I just said the words to fit in with my surroundings - much like one wears the jersey of the local team.

I went off to university. I met blacks and Hispanics that were my peers. We became friends. I didn’t just wake up and think, “huh, blacks aren’t as dumb as dad said they were.” Instead, I simply made friends and past stereotypes evaporated from my thought processes. Similar meetings, friendships, etc. eliminated all of it.

So, if you knew me in high school - you would have thought me a bigot. If you knew me at university, you would have met me on a different path. Today, you would have no clue.

Me, too - my parents were (and are) so anti-black it’s a bit scary. Speaking of how they ruin neighborhoods and all they do is run rampant in the streets (really, Mom? How come I’ve never noticed?) and the only ones worse were the Hispanics.

This started changing for me in high school. I’m not sure when or how. I did one of my papers on Thurgood Marshall. And I somewhat started identifying with blacks - not that my situation is that analogous to them, but I recognize that a ton of the civil rights gains they made apply to me, too, as a brown woman.

In college I had this amazing professor who just happened to be black and that helped.

I actually find that a little funny, a person from a visible minority being a racist themselves - it does happen, but a vast majority of them are white in a majority white country (Apartheid-era S. Africa and Rhodesia excepted, of course)

It reminds me of the Russel Peters bit (it’s been a long while), about his dad railing against the “immigrants” (every time he imitates his dad, he does it in the thickest East Indian accent imaginable) - Russel reminds him that he’s an immigrant too, but he keeps ranting (I forget the punchline as to how his dad rectifies this anomaly).

I can’t think of anyone I know who did a complete 180 off-hand, but I have had a major reality check in the form of the blatantly racist, homophobic parents of a friend accepting and loving their gay son and his Asian boyfriend (whereas the Asian boyfriend’s university professor parents have pretty much cut him off). Not sure if they had a change of heart or were just showing their true colors, though.

ETA dhkendall I think I’ve heard it referred to as the ‘Last one through the subway door theory’ (or something similar – totally escaping me right now), and it’s used to explain sexist women at work, too. They feel like they’ve just made it and now they’ve got to protect their rare position or something.

Russell Peters


Senator Robert Byrd?

My dad and my grandparents… although the transformation occurred before I was born.

My maternal grandparents were quite unusual for their day: they weren’t at all racist. My godmother, Aunt D, is a black woman who was born and raised in Watts in the '30s, and had a shitty childhood being shuffled around foster homes. My grandparents met her and took her in when she was a teenager; a couple of years later my mother was born, and Aunt D had a big hand in raising her. She, and her descendants, have always been a part of our family.

My dad’s parents, however, were just like most other white people of the day - they wanted nothing to do with “those n******”. This rubbed off on Dad to some extent, though I think his attitude wasn’t as set as his parents’.

When my parents started dating at 19, in the mid 60’s, my dad’s attitude changed pretty quick. AFAIK, his parents came to know Aunt D and their attitude eventually changed as well. I’ll never know if they lost their racism entirely or put on a show for the family’s sake - that would be an interesting question to ask my dad. But I don’t have any memories of there ever being any friction or anything. I didn’t come along until '71, though, so my earliest memories (about anything) are around ten years after my parents met.

I haven’t been the least bit homophobic since 1990, if that counts.

Bwahaha. White people can never be remotely as racist as everybody else. We are racists, classists, and sexists, all combined. Hell, most Indians I know don’t even like people from the next town over or that don’t speak Hindi, or what not. And that doesn’t even count the BJP party in India, that believes in Hindu supremacy. :confused:

I’ve heard that some Mexican immigrants in southern California look down on Guatemalan immigrants.

What I found odd was that when blacks reacted to the Rodney King verdict, they took their anger out…

…on Koreans.

One rather obvious fact is that everybody used to be homophobic. That was “normal.” When I was a teenager in the late 50s, coming to terms with my sexual feelings, ***nobody ***was saying it was ok to be gay. It never even occurred to me that these feelings were anything other than sick and depraved and . . . just wrong. The most liberal and enlightened attitude was that it wasn’t my fault, that I could someday go into therapy and be “cured.” I would have found it inconceivable that, in my lifetime, there would be places where gays could actually marry.

Reginald Denny was Korean? Fidel Lopez?

They took their anger out on everyone.

My fiance’s best friend.

When my fiance and I first got together, he was very homophobic, racist, close-minded… and I was really uncomfortable with him. But my roommate at the time (and later, once my fiance moved in, my fiance’s roommate, too) is gay. My fiance’s friend got to know my friend and realized that gays aren’t all trying to get in his pants and are decent people, funny, cool, etc. It really opened his eyes.

He still sometimes has some backwards things to say, but he’s really come around.

I know the opposite

My dad has always been a fairly tolerant guy. I never heard a bad word about any group from my parents growing up.

Now in his 50s, it’s like his “social filter” is disappearing. You know, the filter that keeps your mouth from immediately saying the first thing that pops into your head?

Maybe 2 years ago I was driving with him. We were in a parking lot. A black guy crossed (at a crosswalk) which meant we had to stop and wait for him. Out of nowhere - and I mean nowhere, this guy had done absolutely nothing wrong - my dad starts yelling - “Out of the way, you stupid N-----!”

That was probably the farthest my jaw has ever dropped. I reacted as you might expect, never have had heard my dad express even anything offensive like that. “WTF?! Dad?! Do I know you?!”

We won’t get into the time about a few years ago when my dad started pontificating, loudly, about how Michael Richards hadn’t done anything wrong. He was merely calling out some “N------” in the audience that were being “N------”.

Yes, loudly. In a full restaurant. And yes, there were plenty of black people in this restaurant. It was one of the rare times I said “Dad, just STFU. Right now.”

Ironically, he loves Obama. I guess maybe he’s got the whole Chris Rock “Black people vs. N------” thing playing in his head.

I imagine that for older Southerners at least, it would be easy to mistake complex (and static) racial attitudes for a “changed” racial attitude. Probably very, very few people espoused an outlook of “I hate every n____r I see, oughta kill 'em all!” After all, these are people you encounter every day (in that society). But far more frequently you might hear on the one hand “George down at the hardware store is so great, always so polite, let’s invite him over for dinner some time” and on the other “well, it’s too bad but that boy shoulda thought twice before coming over to a part of town he shouldn’t be at night . . .”

Another “opposite” -

I personally witnessed someone change from progressive/liberal to very bigoted after she attended grad school. The intense competition in that department was too much to handle I guess. Among other things, she came away embittered and convinced that other people use their ethnicities as some kind of scam to get ahead for free.

It sounded to me as if she just ended up in a very badly run department full of lousy personalities…

Korean shop owners in LA especially got alot of vitriol in those riots. Some of it had to do with the Soon Ja Du case. Note Ice Cube’s song “Black Korea.”

Riots are bad for everyone in general, however, and should never happen.

This one amazed me - former KKK leader Johnny Lee Clary talking about his past. (youtube link)

Clary harassed Reverend Wade Watts, burnt down his church etc. So Watts went all Jesus on Clary’s ass and turned the other cheek, told him he loved him. Non-violently resisted Clary into submission.