My Name is Kaity, and I'm a Racist

In the past week I've posted two different articles regarding what it means to be a black man in the United States. It's something that's been heavy on my heart and mind lately, especially in light of the Zimmerman-Martin verdict. 

I grew up in a predominantly white town. We had one or two token black kids in our school, so while race wasn't so much of an in-your-face ordeal, I was raised to recognize that all people are created equally. Red, yellow, black or white, they are precious in His sight. In fact, I actually had an infatuation with black men. My Mom thought sure I was going to marry a black man and would jokingly recall my two year old self, giddy with excitement when our black mail man dropped by our house.

While in college I had a handful of black friends. That's the wonderful thing about college- you're introduced to all kinds of new and wonderful people. I had privileged, white, suburban friends, and more urban, black friends. And I loved each of them.

Perhaps, my most eye-opening experience while in college was my semester in Uganda. Being a white woman in the context of the United States? Not such a big deal. Being a white woman in the context of an African country? Much bigger deal. For the first time ever in my life, I was the minority. When I walked into town to pick up some snacks at the local store, virtually every eye was on me. I was an outsider, someone strange and foreign. Children who had never laid eyes on a white person before would legitimately burst into tears at the sight of me, running into their mother's embrace while I stupidly and helplessly tried to console them. Believe me when I say, being a minority was awful.

And so, after returning to the States I was left with a brand new perspective on what it means to be black, Hispanic or Native American in this country. What it means to be a Jew or a Muslim in a sea of Bible-thumpers. What it means to be different, and even to be discriminated against.

Then we moved to Pittsburgh. To give you a better idea of our first home in the Steel City, I should let you know, we did not live in a nice part of town. In fact, you could describe our neighborhood as "the ghetto." The Church catty corner from our apartment posted signs in its lawn about gun violence. Gun shots were heard on occasion. When I would walk to the grocery store or library by myself, black men would eye me up and down and holler at me. When I was stopped at a traffic light, a black man would stare me down, completely intimidating me and leaving me with the chills. One night, I lay in bed next to Chuck and heard shouting outside our window. In our backyard, which formerly served as an alleyway, were about 5-6 black men, baseball bats in hand, rottweilers in tow, screaming some of the most angry words I've ever heard. As they drew closer to the backdoor that led right into our bedroom, I was paralyzed with fear.

They eventually retreated and nothing happened that night. But steadily over the year of living in that apartment, something happened to me. I became prejudiced.

Today, I sat in a parked car on a busy street in the middle of the day while I waited for Chuck to pick up our pizza. As a black man crossed the street in the direction of our vehicle, I instinctively reached for the car door lock. Before I got there, however, I abruptly stopped as the reality of my action hit me like a sucker punch to the stomach. I'm a racist.

Me, the girl who studied abroad in Uganda, whose entire family thought she'd marry a black man, whose biggest goal in life is to adopt little African babies, is a racist.

And so, I think my interest in this essay from a young man guest posting on what it means to be a young black man in America and this article detailing President Obama's recent comments on the black reaction to the Zimmerman-Martin verdict have particularly spoken to me as I seek to assuage my guilt from these thoughts I've developed. As I seek to fix this brokenness inside me. As I try to find a way to truly love people the way God loves them and celebrate our differences.

Please pray for me friends as I ask God to cleanse this ugliness from my soul.


  1. It's very brave and awesome to not only notice that in yourself but to admit it. Not everyone would be able to recognize it let alone admit it to themselves and then on their blog. It's something I can work on too!

  2. Great post. So many people are this way but don't consider themselves racist. Those past experiences have conditioned you to experience fear when, in your heart, you may not really feel like that. It's something more people need to be conscious about. Again, great post- I love your writing!

  3. Wow! Your words were so honest and sincere, and I appreciate your insightfulness and reflection. I have no words for the joy and hope my heart feels right now, reading your story. You are not a racist Kaity. I do hope however that this recent experience will help you to be aware of your surroundings but to also keep an open mind about Black men you may encounter in public.

  4. This? This right here is why I'm so crazy about you and your writing! You are fabulous and sincere and honest, and I don't think it will take you long at ALL to combat any residual fearful thinking you may have!

    (it's weird, too, because I've been composing a post of my own about racism, these past few days. I guess we're all thinking of it more right now)

  5. I don't think you are racist. The thing is... i experience some of those thoughts/feelings too. I lock my car door when someone who seems shady walks near - but that has happened with blacks and whites. My 3 favorite coworkers are black. The last church i went to was very diverse, and i still am close with several black people there. I love diversity, i always have, and that hasn't changed. BUT... there are racist black people who upset me, cause fear to rise up in me, and who anger me. There is a LOT of racism in my city (though some may not want to admit it) & some of the things you describe here happen to me still. Most recently a white family was BEATEN UP in a gas station by a black man who said they were in the wrong neighborhood. So yes...maybe i am racist against black people who bully and hurt others, but i would feel the same way about white men who do the same. Maybe i'm prejudiced against racists? Is that a thing!? :)

    I do hate the thoughts of racism that rise up in me, though, and i admit those are there, too. And i pray that God will purify my heart and help me to see people the way He does.

    Love your honesty! :)

  6. You my friend are not a racist. Thank you for writing this. It gives me more push to finally publish a post I've been stalling to post.

  7. I think your awareness is what makes you NOT a racist. I've had similar reactions to anyone that appears to be shady, white or black. I think to some extent what you see is what you know at the moment and sometimes that can change over time. Living in a neighborhood like that made you wary of black men but you are open minded enough to not want to judge people based on that alone. It's that extra awareness that makes you different from a racist who is close minded and does not want to see outside of a stereo type. I appreciate your honesty!