First of all...apologies for my ancestors' past transgressions.
My dad stuck by his convictions. I didn't agree, didn't like it, but at least he was honest about where he stood.
"I'm racist, son," he'd say, "and I don't mean maybe."
I'm not really sure what prompted his racism. He'd hinted at his past, some bathroom incident when he was in the army. I never pushed too far. Didn't want to. Some things are better off buried.
But as an impressionable young child, I couldn't understand why my parents disliked everyone un-WASPy.
"Why do you hate black people, Mom?" I'd asked.
"Me?" she said. "I don't hate colored people. There's some good dark boys out there."
"What about Jewish people? Wasn't Jesus Jewish?"
"Jews! Jews killed Jesus!"
"Hm. What about Catholics? What's wrong with Catholics?"
"Mercy sakes. They worship Mary!"
End of discussion. No insight gained.
With age (and I hope enlightenment), I discovered how ludicrous all of that nonsense was.
I spent years and years fighting my parents on this, trying to change their minds, to look at things differently, more accurately and humanely. Pointless as battling a tornado with a fly-swatter. Best I could hope for is not to get sucked into the crazy.
My mom's still a hard-charging, practicing bigot. Not too long ago, she dropped a shocking racist slur.
"Mom," I screamed, oh so righteously (probably more than was merited, but such is the cross to bear when you're a white, guilt-stricken liberal), "that's racist and ugly!"
"Me?" Her eyes batted, vacant, innocent. "I'm not racist. Just as long as the darkies know their place."
Yow. Spoken like a slave-owner.
Speaking of which, I found out my great grandparents owned slaves, for Gawd's sake. (Sorry, sorry, sorry...)
My dad once told me, "Son, you come from good stock." Regardless of Dad's simile to cattle, there's nothing really tasty about racism.
Recently, I couldn't help myself. Fun where you can get it.
"Mom," I said, "you know a lot of historians say Jesus was black, right?"
Silence. A long, interminable silence. Zillions of crickets. Finally, "Bah. What do historians know?"
Ladies and gentlemen, my mom! She'll be here all weekend!
One of my parents is still on earth, one passed. They taught me many great things. But my disagreement with them over racial issues is set in stone. Weird thing, though, is my love for my folks is oddly, humanly intact. Ugly warts and all.