Racism is not hatred (hatred is a byproduct), and it’s not ignorance (that ignorance is willful). Racism is a way of codifying and reproducing privilege and exploitation.
The average racist — and don’t assume that the average racist is not you or me — has a vested interest in discrimination of others. If whole groups of people are disenfranchised, and you are in the dominant group, you get education and jobs and promotions and nice housing (etc.) more easily.
As a white person, passivity about racism amounts to profiting heavily from it and just sitting comfortably on the $$$.
As a white person, active racism, including “benign” racist jokes — but there’s much more that flies under our white-point-of-view radars! —, amounts to working to make sure you will keep on profiting from your racial privilege forever. Whether you are fully conscious of this vested interest, or are mindlessly applying the playbook of ordinary racism you were taught by your environment, is irrelevant: you’re still actively working to perpetuate your privilege and the measurable profits that come with it.
Now, assuming that you mean well: what are you doing to undo the racist assumptions in your mind? in your actions?
Finally, and most importantly: I didn’t figure this out by myself. I just couldn’t have. Instead, I’ve read the books and articles and tweets of some of those who experience racism first-hand, and I’ve understood part of what they experience and how I fit into it. I’m paraphrasing them. Go to the sources.
I could recommend a dozen Twitter accounts and a few blogs, to begin with, but I’ll recommend this instead: pay close attention to what people of color say. Pay attention to both stories and political analysis. Refrain from judging whether
that’s [not] racism or if the analysis sounds true to you. Just listen.