Former Racists Explain What Made Them Change Their Opinion
Sushil Nash on Unsplash

People change.

That is one of the beauties of the human condition.

And sometimes we as humans change from something truly horrible.

It takes a lot of strength and courage to own up the past.

But there is hope.

People are learning and growing.

And some people came to reddit to explain how they did it.

Redditor Cursed_Salad97wanted to from the people out there who learned how to be better humans.

They asked:

"Former racist people of Reddit what changed your opinion?"

I'm so glad people are willing to share on this topic. Let's have a hard conversation...

It was me...

"High school. Went from my Brooklyn neighborhood where I threw around every ugly word with my buddies almost daily to my very first week in high school when I said some stupid comment and got the dirtiest looks from my brand new friends. It was the combination of disgust, disappointment, and even pity that made me realize that something was very wrong and that something was in me."

"I had to make very conscious efforts to not think like that for years until it finally came naturally. The best thing is my three children don’t have to make any effort at all, it’s just normal for them to not think the way I did."


See the World

"I was raised in a really small, rural town, so it was casual racism constantly. I fell into the rhetoric, unfortunately. What changed me? Just living and traveling and listening and trying to understand. This applies for other views as well. Traveling and just listening can really open your eyes to a lot of things and on so many levels. Take care of yourselves, folks!"



"Not sure this counts, but I went from living in a hyper religious and extremely intolerant and completely white environment, to living in a country where I was the foreigner and received quite a bit of abuse for it. Swore I would never be that kind of person."


Bench Mates

"I am a Hindu and in India Hindus and Muslims have little bit of beef in between. There was a new student in class (muslim) my bench mate was absent that day teacher made him sit on my bench with me and said no one will change their places time passes small talk common interests good friends."


Bad Drills

"I grew up as one of the only white people in a predominantly black area, my parents drilled into me that they hate me just because I’m white and to fear them. And at the time they weren’t necessarily wrong, because many of those kids were being told the same thing about me at home. I just learned from experience it isn’t true, I made many friends that I still love dearly and I wish neither of us had this mindset drilled into us."

User Deleted

It almost always starts the same... "when I was growing up."

Lesson? We're taught to hate. We're not born with it.

In the 1970s...

"Not me but my dad's story. In the 1970s my dad was in elementary school said he had always thought African Americans were just different. So one day he’s standing in line, and there was two African American brothers standing behind my dad when my dad turns to the younger brother and calls him a racist term (I don’t remember which one)."

'"The older brother turns to my dad winds up and punches him straight in the face. He said he was bleeding, it hurt like hell, and he was crying but ever since that day he knew they were just like everyone else because that’s exactly what he would have done."


Dear Uncle

"My uncle by marriage grew up with racist parents, but one day when he was 20 (iirc) he fell asleep at the wheel after working a double shift and rolled off the side of the road into a ditch late one night. It was a country road in nowhere Upstate New York and the only other person on the road at the time was a Puerto Rican man also getting off work.

"Pulled him from the car and drove to the nearest gas station to use the pay phone (way before cell phones existed). My uncle survived thanks to that man. His car caught fire shortly after. My uncle was so touched by this man's kindness he vowed to help the man as much as could."

"Until my uncle's death from cancer in 2013 they remained friends. I remember hearing the story during Thanksgiving one year when I was younger and not really understanding what racism was."


Don't Hate

"I grew up. Moved away from the racist influences. Met people of other races and decided then that I would treat people as individuals to like or not as attitude dictated. Not by race/religion/sexuality etc. Makes life simpler. It takes way too much energy to hate."



Handshake Reaction GIFGiphy

"I grew up in a town where other races were practically a theoretical concept. I then went to college and realized we are all just people and suck equally."



"My education growing up was fairly conservative and my neighborhood lacked diversity. When I went to college, I met a ton of people who were different from me but just as human."


"That's why conservatives rail against college. It takes away their power over those who haven't had enough exposure to the world or who can't think critically."


'rudeness and laziness'

"I grew up in a family that was extremely racist towards African Americans. Especially they would always rant about how AA customers at their jobs are always rude and too lazy to clean up after themselves. After I got a job myself, I realized that it seems like every races are the same."

"Some are rude. Some are lazy. MOST people are nice regardless of the color of their skin. I just find it unfair how my parents specifically targeted AA people I’ve experience just about the same about of 'rudeness and laziness' from the other races."


Not the Greatest

"I am still a young person, but I was a racist piece of crap for a long time. I’m sure if you go back enough in my post history, you can still see the remnants of who I used to be. For me, what really changed it was growing up and having good friends that cared enough to see the person I could be, even though I was an unbelievably nasty racist POS. Through many conversations, interactions, and even arguments, I grew up as a person into who I am today. I’m still not the greatest person on Earth, but I’m still working to be the best I can be."


Lots in Common

"I don't think I was ever racist, but as a little kid I was scared of other races. Probably because they weren't very common in my life. It didn't come from a place of hatred though. But then I watched the first Pokemon movie and Meowth said something I've always remembered... 'We do have a lot in common.'"

"'The same earth, the same air, the same sky. Maybe if we started looking at what's the same instead of what's different... well, who knows.' And since that moment, I stopped being scared of other races. It's true as well, we should stop looking at what is different and start looking at what's the same. However, I will say that the differences in people, culture, so forth, is something to be celebrated as well."


Be Fair

Giving No Deal GIF by SWR3Giphy

"I was around 12 when I realized that they're just as human as I am and don't deserve to be treated unfairly because of a different skin color. Fought tooth and nail with my mom many times on that after that."


(S03 E15)

"I was never racist just very sheltered. I remember watching a Star Trek episode named Let That Be Your Last Battlefield (S03 E15). It was about two guys who were fighting hell-bent on killing each other. The reason behind this was one was black on the right white on the left and the other was white on the right and black on the left. After watching that episode, it made me realize that hating someone for the color (or colors) of their skin was absurd and stupid."


I Didn't Know

"I didn't realize I was racist, and when I realized I couldn't recognize racist behavior at all, I had to take a step back and re evaluate myself. I grew up in a mostly white town. I can count on one hand the number of black people at my local high school. My mother is passively racist, and my father and brother are openly racist, against black people, Chinese, Mexicans, Muslims - a lot of races and ethnicities."

"When I learned about the Indigenous in school (as per new Ontario curriculum) all three were vocally opposed to it, and commonly expressed that it was stupid. It was a weird experience, especially because I had been desensitized to racist behavior for a good portion of my life. It's hell to still be living with my family now that I realize how horrible they are."


Do no harm...

"Not racist but homophobic… just raised that way and did not know any different. In college I got to know a few LGBT people and one day just realized I did not give a single flying f**k what people did sexually. How does this even remotely impact me and my life? Do no harm to others… LGBT people are not harming anyone else simply by being LGBT."


Be Smarter

Thinking Kiko GIF by BROCKHAMPTONGiphy

"I grew the hell up tbh. I said a lot of stupid crap as a kid and if it weren’t for the internet I never would have grown the hell up and learned what was wrong to say and who I needed to support."


Shut up dad...

"My parents were racists (they're democrats, need to specify because there's dozens of 'I was raised in a conservative household' comments) I simply got older and became very good friends with a Muslim Indian kid in school. Realized my dad was full of crap and continued making friends of all races."


We can do this. We can leave this scourge behind, if we choose to. And I'm not talking just about America. I'm talking about humanity as a whole.

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Everyone always harps on the importance of first impressions.

But we also need to pay attention to all that follows.

I'm starting to believe a first impression can be a great fake-out.

People will allow their true colors to shine over time.

Redditor Xanax_Sprite wanted everyone to open up about what things people can do that immediately change one's opinion of a person's character, not for the better.

They asked:

"What immediately makes you think less of someone?"

It's entirely too easy to turn me off. I admit, it's an issue. Maybe that's a thing people suddenly dislike about me.

Bad Behavior

rude bon qui qui GIFGiphy

"Intentional embarrassment. When someone brings something up in front of a group to humiliate someone else."


Man Up

"Not taking responsibility for their actions."


"Even worse. people who make excuses for their mistakes, no matter how bluntly you point it out to them that this is their shortcoming. Man up and admit you make a mistake. Stop telling me A happened then B happened so C happened. we are here to work, not tell each other make believe stories."


Be Quiet

"Someone who interrupts a serious conversation to make it about them."


"Being subject to that infuriating s**t was what eventually inspired me to listen to people more, especially regarding heavier topics. Sometimes people just need to be heard and held, and it isn't fair for them to expose their vulnerabilities only to have you dismiss them by trying to make their suffering about you."


Where are they?

"How they speak about a person who is not present in the conversation."


"One of the most important lessons my father taught me..."

"Don't speak about a person if they're not in the room."

"They don't have a representative in the room and especially if your words get back to them and they can't say 'I know, he already had that convo with me.' I've earned a rep for not speaking behind people's backs to the point where when someone claimed I did, that person called them a liar. Pops sucked but I thank him for that lesson."


Be Consistent

Jennifer Lawrence Reaction GIFGiphy



"100. People can change their opinions, but not flip flop regularly."


I can't with hypocrites. My life's biggest pet peeve.

Be clean

Season 4 Episode 22 GIF by The SimpsonsGiphy



"Yep, had a coworker once who spit on the floor inside."

"It was a warehouse-type building, but still. This particular guy also left cigarette butts on the floor inside and dumped a dog on the business property. Needless to say, he didn't last long here. Some people are just really rude and stupid."


Say Sorry

"Had a friend who never, ever apologized for anything or really took any responsibility. Even in situations which were funny and non-serious, he’d always talk his a** out of it (in a jokey matter). But when some s**t hit the fan, that guy turned into one of the scariest, manipulative and aggressive people I’ve met that would rather die than take accountability for the things he’s done."

"And for which there were many witnesses and evidence against him. Moral of the story, if you know someone who won’t say sorry or admit they did something wrong for even the least serious things, run, because when they actually do something seriously bad it’s just gonna get real ugly."


Face 2 Face

"Lying to my face. There’s no going back in my eyes because I will never trust you. Secrets are fine and dandy. That’s not quite the same as straight up lying. A direct example is people lying about their family dying to get out of work or when this older woman in her 40’s tried to lie about cleaning up her work station when she left it for me to clean."


“as a joke”

"Being mean to animals."


"Even when people joke about being mean to animals. I have a cat I love dearly and the number of comments I get about harming cats because people don’t like them 'as a joke' is infuriating and not funny, Ken."


"I include poorly training their pets in this. It’s neglect/negligence and it’s abuse."


Eyes Up

Call Me Lol GIF by Black PrezGiphy

"When they’re looking at their phones, not paying any attention to you when you’re trying to have a conversation with them."


It doesn't take much to change an impression. Let's do better.