They say that this world has come a long way in overcoming racism. However, these stories suggest that we still have a long, long way to go.
People who have witnessed flat-out, unapologetic prejudice or been a first-hand victim of it themselves, took to Reddit to share the experience. Be careful as you read these stories, which have been edited for clarity. They are quite maddening...
"An old guy in his 70s walked up to me while at McDonalds and asked me, 'Is that your camel parked out front?'
I took a moment to register that he was being racist. I told him that there wasn't a camel in the parking lot and that he should see a doctor about his senile dementia. I'm not even Arab or Persian. I'm Puerto Rican. If you're going to be racist, at least make the effort to get the race right. The only thing worse than a racist is a lazy racist."
"I was a 'Big Brother' for two years in Atlanta to an 8-year-old black boy who was extremely cool. We were great friends.
One time, I brought him over to my friend's house in the northwest of Georgia (it was in the town of Smyrna actually), just outside of the city, so he could learn how to change a car's brakes and rotors with my friend. About half way through, my friend's 80-year-old neighbor came over to us and, in front of my little brother, said, 'We don't like [N-word]'s in our neighborhood, when are you folks leaving?'
It devastated my little brother. I didn't aggressively confront the guy and it also wasn't my house, so my friend and I both insisted he leave and then consoled the kid. It was incredibly awkward. I didn't really have any experience in this so it really caught me off guard. I had to explain to his mom how this guy said it and she told me to never take him up there again. We were having a great time and it was completely ruined and probably was a very traumatic experience for him. I don't know if he had ever been exposed to that sort of thing. I actually lost contact with them shortly after, they moved and our relationship kind of fell apart.
I feel really guilty about it, but there was nothing I could do."
"I was told by my family that, no matter what, they would not approve of me dating a black woman or a Latina despite any of her other qualities, which has been weird, because I've only dated black and Latina girls, so they just think I've been single my whole life.
I live a few hundred miles away from them, so I don't even tell them about who I'm dating. I tell the girls I date the situation if it gets brought up and, while it's messed up, they understand why I'm not so keen on having that meet happen anytime soon. I'm also an atheist, but I know I can't tell my strict Catholic family that. I want to have a good relationship with my family, obviously, but I do sometimes feel I can't openly be who I am until they're dead which is messed up."
"I have three brothers: one of them is black and the other two (and myself) are white.
Years ago, I went to pick up my niece and nephew from school. Both kids went to the same elementary school and I was in town for the day. I pulled up in that car line thing and got out right where the kids were all waiting with the school people to help them with their book bags, etc. My nephew was in second grade and my niece in Kindergarten. My niece hopped in the car and my nephew was moving toward the car when, out of NOWHERE, I was swarmed with teachers, resource officers, and an assistant principal who seemed to materialize out of nowhere.
Apparently, a white lady picking up a black kid = kidnapping.
I immediately saw the source of confusion and tried to explain. Nope.
I had to park. We had to go to the office, and they tired to insist that, while I was free to take the GIRL with me, my nephew must stay until my brother could get there. The KICKER in all of this was that they called the kids liars when they tried to help, explaining that they were cousins and I was their aunt, and I was BEGGING them to check their files, which they didn't do until my brother requested it over the phone.
Sure enough, as per school policy, in that folder on the list of approved people to pick him up in his file, along with my mom's and little brother's names, was mine. I showed my ID and they sheepishly let me leave.
The problem was only with ONE of the children I was picking up. They had NO ISSUE with me taking the white kid, even though I was still a 'strange person.' Not even a second glance. Without GLANCING at any files or questioning me at all, sight unseen, they were fully prepared to let the white kid go with me, no questions asked.
I'm a public school teacher; I get it. IF the school had been concerned that I was picking up BOTH children, I wouldn't have been as upset. I would have understood. The fact that they didn't bat an eye at the white kid going with someone they didn't recognize (so long as I was also white) is sketchy."
"I was in Russia and walking around with my African roommate. Some random guy RAN up to us and pointed at my roommate and screamed, 'MONKEY! MONKEY! MONKEY!!!!!' in her face.
Our classmate of East Indian descent was carted off by the police once a week for being a terror suspect. The Jewish guy got the life beat out of him and thrown in front of our dorm. The people who did it told us 'This is what we do to Jews, so keep them at home.' We had no idea the guy was Jewish.
The racism there is insane. It was a shocking to be some American white lady standing in the metro and have randoms yell at me for being 'chorni scum.' Racism is considered a virtue while you're in public there and the more you target minorities, the more you're seen as 'doing everyone a favor.' People there buy into that attitude and you get a situation where ordinary people do horrible things daily to 'clean up society.'
"I am a Chinese male in the UK. I was born here, so consider myself British. England is home, after all. Ignorant people who have been drinking typically think it's alright to say 'chink' and physically touch me after a certain number of pints. It isn't. But, inebriated people are expected to be imbeciles.
The worst is people who you meet in public (missionaries and the national health service in particular) who are the most ignorant. Missionaries often stop Chinese people who are walking alone, presumably, because they're an easy sell - 'Lost and alone in a foreign country? We'll be your friends!' I make it my purpose to ask where they're from, tell them I'm not interested in joining their Church, and wish them luck on the mission. Usually there are remarks of, 'Wow! Your English is really good!' I am fluent in English, have a British accent, and my English is still 'pretty good'? Must be foreign. Thanks, guys.
Nurses are equally bad. I give blood frequently and at the beginning, a nurse asks you questions about where you've been and to fill in a questionnaire to make sure your blood is, to your knowledge, clean. Ten minutes of conversation later, 'Your English is pretty good, isn't it?' I've only been learning since I was born, love. I'll try harder next time.
In my opinion, the worst kind of racism is very subtle. Being called slurs from across the street is obvious, predictable, and boring, but showing you have all the hallmarks of being born in a country and then having people say to you, 'You sound like you're from here, you were been born here, and you've adopted our culture, but you definitely don't belong here' is a much deeper kind of discrimination."
"I'm from the South and most of my family is racist, so picking out the 'most blatant' act is hard for me. I'll give you some examples of my grandmother, though. My 'Meme,' my dad's mother, is a racist, short and simple. She was an old woman, born and raised in the South. Of course she was racist.
I remember when I learned that 'race' was a thing. She lived next to a black family where one of their boys was in between my sister's age and mine. We were talking across the fence and he asked if he could come over to play. I asked Meme, who had been watching us from the doorway, and she said no. When I asked her why, she replied, 'He's black. You haven't learned to see in color yet.'
One Christmas, the officer in the Eric Garner case had been recently acquitted of any wrong-doing. The topic got brought up, and my Meme, may her soul rest in peace, said, 'If these cops stop shooting all these black people, I just don't know what we're going to do!'
So, yeah, 100% Grade F racist there."
"I found out that this girl I know, her dad is in the KKK and possibly a neo-Nazi. How? This is how:
My old friend was dating this girl and they both lived at her parent's. Her family seemed normal enough - mom, dad, daughter, regular house, everyone worked, etc. Typical middle class suburban family. The person in question of this story is my buddy's girlfriend' dad. The dad always seemed like a normal guy. He worked a blue collar job, came home, ate dinner, had a drink, and went to bed. Never got a racist vibe from any of them and they seemed to be more open minded than other folks in the area.
My old friend, well, he was a scum bag, but it explains his actions for the story. He called me up to hang out, so I headed over. When I arrived, he said, 'Get in here, you gotta see this!' So, I walked to the other end of the house. He was in his girlfriend's parent's room going through a box. I asked him what the heck he was thinking and he told me to look and threw me the box.
What was inside the box? A KKK robe with that cross thing, a bunch of other memorabilia with SS bolts and swastikas on it, and tons of pictures of his girlfriend's dad in the Klan robe with other Klan members. I told my idiot friend to put this stuff away, clean up, and get out of the house for a few hours. I never could quite look at her dad the same way after that. He never knew we know that he is in the Klan or is an ex member. I assume he still has ties if he keeps all that crap lying around the house."
"I was a white kid in a mostly black area. This was in a certain neighborhood in Columbia, South Carolina. I got jumped and beat up a lot and told I couldn't do things because I was white. I couldn't swim at the pool, couldn't play sports (not because of lacking ability, just because I was white). I got told plenty of times, when hanging out with 'friends' and doing things for them, that it was 'about time a white person knew slavery.'
A lot of times, I'd just keep my mouth shut and my head in books just to get away from it. When I did try to stand up for myself, I was jumped or told I was a racist, yada yada.
I was a blonde white girl at a mostly black high school. I wouldn't call what I experienced 'racism,' but I couldn't walk to school by myself and one of the security had to walk me to my car after school because of the countless times I got harassed. I couldn't walk in the hallway without some dude grabbing my butt and screaming gross stuff at me.
There were a few really good people who stuck up for me a lot, and I wish I knew where they were because I probably would not have made it out alive if it weren't for them. I hope they made it out alive, anyway. There were great people there where I lived, but when you live somewhere for a while, you tend to bump into the same people regularly... and bad people are bad people. They also tend to congregate and hype each other up and things get exponentially worse very fast.
When I moved back to Florida I couldn't have been happier. Except, I was so used to being secluded, it took a long time for me to get back out and make friends."
"I was at a potluck dinner, eating some fried chicken. A woman I don't know came over and asked me if the only black woman there made it. I said no, and pointed out it was, first of all, brought by the host and, second of all, store bought.
The woman snorted and started on how that figures - no doubt the black lady wasn't smart enough to make fried chicken. Then, she said how no black people know how to cook, that their white masters had to teach them when they were slaves, and they just copied it. 'Soul food' was just the mimicry of their white masters tastes. Those poor white women who owned slaves just had to keep teaching their house slaves. Now, black people can't come up with anything new and, without anyone to teach them, just end up at Popeyes.
I basically short circuited at the beginning of this speech, which was pretty much spouted off without a pause. I sat there, not moving, mouth open, chicken in hand, and just stared at her. Eventually, she got uncomfortable and left. I later saw her talking to the boyfriend of the woman she was talking to and desperately tried to signal him.
Of course, I've come up with a hundred comebacks ever since, but had none in the moment."
"My significant other is a black dude. I'm a white woman. We live in the south. We have both gotten our fair share of comments because of this, mostly from older people. I think the most blatant thing was when I took him as my date to a family reunion to introduce him around and one of my aunts pulled me aside and asked me if I was all right.
I asked what she meant. She gave me this really sad, pitying look and said, 'These black boys are really aggressive. They'll hit on white girls for anything. Are you sure you want him to be here?'
I said, 'Yes, that's why I brought him.'
She shook her head and told me, 'You're just too sweet. I don't want you to get hurt by him. You're not the kind of girl who deserves to be with a black boy... If he gets too rough with you, just tell me and I'll get my husband to make him leave.'
This is the most blatant way anyone has ever said it to me, but it's not the first or the last time someone has asked me or implied that he must be aggressive or violent or otherwise treat me like crap for no other reason than, 'that's just how black men are.'"
"I was 6-7 at the time when we visited the Food 4 Less (now Smith's) supermarket. My mom was buying stuff for a party and, of course, I wandered off. I found the candy aisle (Mom within view). I picked up a 'Bubble By The Foot' and a large 6'2" employee came over to me. He grabbed me by the shoulder and told me to put the candy back, so I did.
'YOU freaking beaners always stealing,' is what he said to me.
I looked at him dead straight in the eyes and read his name tag: 'Hammer.' I ran away and went over to my mom. Being young, I started crying. I explained everything to my mom, who is 5'0". She stopped what she was doing and went off to find this guy. No luck. She requested a manager who was actually an assistant manager. My mom explained the situation and the assistant manager told my mom the 'Hammer' guy was the store general manager. She could not help us. My mom stormed out of the store, me in trail. We drove two blocks to my cousin's house, whose husband worked at an attorney's office at the time.
I explained to him what happened and, in a flash of seconds, he picked me up and we were off, driving back to the store. We parked, went into the store, and now, instead of requesting the manager, we demanded to see him. No show. The assistant manager came out again and explained he was gone for the day, etc. We asked for the district manager's number. We left out the front door, stood outside for five minutes, and walked back in. We were walking the aisles looking for the manager. We spotted him in the back of the store loading a pallet.
We called him out and he finally came out. My cousin's husband started tearing this guy a new one. The big, 6'-plus guy was now shaking, stating he didn't call me a 'beaner,' but actually said 'pork and beans.' We asked for his employee number, which he refused as he said he never called me a 'beaner.'
By now there was a huge scene going on. Shoppers were wondering why the manager was getting yelled at and not willing to give us his info. Metro police showed up. We explained both sides of the story. They apologized, but sent us on our way. Corporate called a day later where we explained the whole thing. Two weeks later, 'Food 4 Less' corporate advised us that 'Hammer' quit his job and they could not complete their investigation into the issue.
They sent us a prepaid card to use at their store for $300 and letter from HR about the incident."
"Let me tell y'all about The Old Man, whom we shall refer to as 'Tom' for the sake of brevity. Tom is in his mid 90s, and, so far as I know, has always been in his mid-90s. Seriously, there has never been a time in my life or my father's life where Tom has been anything but a crotchety old man. Anyways, Tom is, and you probably don't need me to tell you based on context, a massive racist. Not 'Jim Crow era' racism. No. Tom is Reconstruction Era racist. His vision of black people is something straight out of Song of the South.
One day, my family and I were helping Tom move his sister out of her house and into an assisted living facility. All was going well; we had mostly packed up the house and were working on the bulk of the worthless junk in the garage. My brother came across this cool looking old box and discovered it was full of ropes for rigging a small ship. Tom shuffled in, cracks a big smile as he looked into the box, and said to my brother and I, 'Think of all the [N-word]s we could hang with that.'
That was but one of many occasions in which we experienced his completely casual racism, like the one time he told us about the board game he designed over Thanksgiving dinner that involved escaped slaves and nooses. He had a prototype built and a rejection letter from Hasbro. I recall that it was set up something like Candyland, but instead, two or more players would compete against one another to see who could escape to the North first... or something. I was told, very deliberately, by my father to forget that day. The best way I can sum it up is 'like Candyland, but more along the lines of Monsieur Candie Land.'"
"I'm mixed - black and white. There was a girl I went to high school with who I really liked. I had a crush on her for a couple years and tried to ask her out through text. She said no. I later found out it was because her parents saw it while looking through her texts and made her say no.
At end of junior year, she told me how she actually felt, but that her parents did not approve of us dating for whatever reason.
We started secretly dating. It wasn't the best idea, but we were 17. About halfway through the summer, her parents found the secret email account she used to talk to me. They forced her to write me a breakup letter at 4 a.m. I didn't hear from her for a few months after that because she tried to stay away from me for fear that her parents would find out we were in the same room together at any given time. So, to work around that, we started passing notes in the halls between classes, like super secret spy stuff.
Long story short, I ended up going to her graduation party, where we sat down and talked to her parents, asking if they'd be okay with us being in a relationship. Her mom said she'd think about it. A few days later, I got the text saying they decided they would not be okay with it.
Last time I saw her was at my graduation party. She gave me the last note she wrote for me that said her parents wouldn't let us be together because they don't believe in race mixing, they didn't want to be associated with the black side of my family, and they didn't want her to be around me or any of my family. They also wouldn't be okay with having mixed grandchildren, even though I'm not that dark and you probably wouldn't be able to tell.
So, out of small number of racist things said and done to me, that was the thing that hurt most. What made it even better, she and her siblings were all adopted from China and South Korea and the parents were white. So, maybe they'd be okay with race mixing if it were a white guy."
"I was rolling in my buddy's car and he was on my old motorbike. We were on the highway, and I did a flyby. He was probably going 22 over I was going 150ish. He is black. I am white.
A cop saw the entire thing and pulled us over. He talked to us both separately, and made us stay apart. He treated us completely differently. He gave me a warning and gave my friend a ticket for 20 over and threatened to impound the bike HE was on for coming into 'my county and pulling this crap.' He told me to keep it down and be careful who I associate with.
It literally made no sense. We were both clean, no priors, and I was doing 'impound me' speeds, while my buddy was just doing 'fast commuter' speeds. Welcome to rural Maryland.
I guess this just really bothered me because it was a cop and, until this, I didn't really think much of racism because I was like, Sure there are probably racists around, but like how much difference can it make? One racist cop can mess your whole day I guess, and this was just a speeding violation."