I remember a pretty interesting conversation a couple years back with an older white guy with whom I’ve been friendly for years.
It ended up being sort of eye-opening for both of us.
I was trying to explain institutional racism to him; I saw his questions as genuine. I used scenarios that I thought illustrated some of how racism is perpetuated. I said that when an apartment manager or an employer or real estate salesperson was more likely to welcome business from people who they perceived to be “like them”, that’s one way.
When he still seemed unclear, I made it more personal. I said if he had a room for rent and two people applied for it who were identical in income, both friendly and clean cut and educated, but one was black and one was white...
He interrupted me. He said he’d rent to the white guy, “obviously”.
I was aghast, but tried to be measured. Why “obviously”? He said that he saw it as just helping out his own. He thought of it as just the harmless, natural course of things. But what happens, I said, if the black guy finds that EVERY white landlord and employer and merchant in town thinks like that?
My friend seemed struck by this. He said when I put it that way, he could see it from the black guy’s perspective - and he said he hadn’t done that before
It was an interesting conversation. I actually think we both