The problem with white America, according to attorney Dawn Cutaia, is that "we are racist and we don't even know it." Cutaia, who's white herself, says in an opinion piece for the York Daily Record that many whites have the impression that they have to belong to the KKK to be racist. By denying the prevalence of racism, however, whites have done a disservice to America, Cutaia asserts.
"Slavery may have been outlawed 150 years ago, but the Civil Rights Movement was less than 50 years ago," Cutaia points out. "Fifty years ago blacks were still sitting in the back of the bus, drinking out of separate water fountains, being sprayed by fire hoses for peacefully protesting, and living in extreme poverty with substandard education."
In other words, while slavery in the United States was abolished in the 19th century, its legacy, including segregation and racial discrimination, haunt the lives of African Americans. Segregation isn't legally mandated anymore but the nation's schools, neighborhoods and even workplaces remain increasingly segregated.
Cutaia also points out how negative racial stereotypes about blacks persist while whites evade negative stereotypes because of their inherent privilege in U.S. society. She says these stereotypes result in racial profiling and job discrimination against African Americans.
"And when 'undercover' black and white employees interview for jobs, when they both have the exact same qualifications, guess who almost always gets called back?" she asks. "Yeah, that's right, the whites."
Cutaia concluded her piece by describing how a well-educated white man confessed to her that he used to refer to blacks as the N-word but doesn't do so any longer. "He then turned to look down my hallway towards my waiting room, laughed, and in a half whisper said: 'There aren't any here, are there? I'm not going to get shot?'"
The irony is that just seconds earlier Cutaia says the man insisted that he wasn't racist. "He didn't even realize what he was saying."
How do the people in your life deny their racism? Better yet, are you guilty of denying racist tendencies?