Sorry about the long post -
In Texas, my grandparents were "subtle" racists while talking privately at home
I think anyone who extrapolates characteristics about a group in general based on the actions of a few individuals is prejudiced/racist.
I've experienced a few unpleasant assumptions/generalizations made about me that made me feel badly. It in no way compares to what victims of racism experience every day, but if the mere slights I've experienced hurt me as much as they did, I can only imagine what it's like for others up against real prejudice.
I think that a lot of people have a certain amount of racism in them, whether they admit it or not, but I'm with Brightpearl - there's plenty to deal with people as individuals without having to extend our complaints to entire groups of people.
My grandparents would never have thought about themselves as racists - out in public, and when dealing with people on a one-to-one basis, they were very kind to everyone, but I'm sure that just the fact that the racism existed at all affected decisions and relationships. Their private attitudes changed with time - I hope and pray that most people grew in awareness during the sixties and seventies, but I think there still are pockets of racism that are definitely alive and well. Just look at the Michael Richards incident, or that Imus character, or Mel Gibson and his anti-semitism. They all deny it, but what comes out of our mouths "accidently" is a pretty good indicator of what we hide in our hearts.
I was five during the race riots in Georgia, and living on a Marine Corps base. My family was ostracized for socializing with the African-American family next door to us, and I distinctly remember my father sitting us down and having a strict talk with us about racism and about trying not to absorb the culture acround us that we were stuck in after my older sister was beat up for being a "n-lover." I saw some ugly things that white kids did to black kids at that age, and never forgot them.
Given all that, I was shocked and disgusted to find racist attitudes developing inside me
when I lived in Manhatten for a while - it was entirely
based on two aggressive incidents in particular by people who hated me on sight, and on my fears of being a teenager alone in NYC in general. I knew it was irrational at the time, and I'm not proud of it.
Los Angeles, for all its claims of multi-culturalism, is one of the most segregated cities I have ever lived in, enforced mostly by the police. Plus, I waited tables every day with otherwise "enlightened" servers - in nice restaurants - who spoke bitterly about their African-American customers. I personally never had a problem, and feel that they brought a bad attitude to the table to begin with that earned them bad tips, but they swore up and down that it wasn't so, and that they "weren't racist."
Portland, Oregon's a little better, but once in the nineties, I actually worked for a woman in a dress store who specifically told me to "stay close to the blacks who come in so they don't shoplift."
I refused and quit.
People are going to clash no matter what over all kinds of things, but racism is a particular subject that should be talked about openly and honestly, and unfortunately isn't.
If you feel you are experiencing racism in some situations, topcat, I'm sure you are. It's kind of hard to miss.