Originally posted by finnegan
Is Alabama less racist? Much?
This is only impressionistic—based, in part, on the 25+ years I lived in the American South (as a transplant from the North).
I remember being at a conference in Birmingham, where blacks and whites were staying at the same hotel, meeting together, eating in the same restaurants, etc. I remember walking the streets of Birmingham and thinking: “In my lifetime, a black person would have had to step off the sidewalk to make room for me to pass.”
That’s just a vignette. But my sense is that the formal racism is less, and even the informal bigotry is less. “Much” less? I don’t know how to measure that in terms of subjective experience. I’d have to rely on statistical data.
Less, of course, does not mean “dead”. I also knew people for whom the bigotry was still well alive—and those, for example, who only “objected” to those “uppity” blacks—that is, the ones who thought they were equal, and acted like it. But I also knew whites who were willing to confront their past bigotry, even if it was painful.
So my “impressionistic” answer is (with respect to the South, not just Alabama): Less, but still very much alive.
One of my very best friends grew up in the deep south. He once related, very poignantly—for those who do not just dismiss personal history, conditioning and struggle against it—how he moved away from home and family because he could not live within the racist culture they adhered (or acquiesced) to. He still loved his family.
It is one of the personal stories I have known in my life that leads me to distrust moral “purists” who, as often as not it seems (again: impressionistic), have not actually grappled with such things as the love of their family versus their own moral principles.