I can't understand why people say racism doesn't exist, or that it's just a minor problem among a small group of "radical" people.
No it's not.
The problem is today, especially in a "civilized" country like the US, racism is hidden and not talked about or expressed freely and openly, because it's deemed "inappropriate." The whole hoopla about Paula Dean is a great example. The reason why she was canned and ostracized so publicly was that it was the politically correct thing to do, to make her an example, to prove that, "see, we're not racists!" The sad truth is that many people still secretly agree with Paula Dean but they just don't want to blatantly admit to their narrow views on race. Just because it's not expressed openly doesn't mean it doesn't exist. The tree that fell still made a sound even if we couldn't hear it.
There are of course the "radicals" who we are so pleased to point out, so that we can justify and say, "see, only a few of these and they're crazy." Like the old white guy who shot a 13-year-old black kid to death for no reasons. Like George Zimmerman who we BELIEVED is a racist who killed Trayvon because he was black. Like the man who showed up at a rally with a black T-shirt with the words "NIGGER" on it. We pointed them out so that we could collectively say, "see, these are just exceptions. We are not like them."
But the fact is, many of us still holds on to certain perception or biases because of race. Maybe not exactly hate or phobia, but biases nonetheless solely based on race. Ask yourself when you're in a bad neighborhood and you see a black man walking toward you, how would you react? Now ask yourself if a white guy or Asian guy walk toward you, how differently would you react?
Biases are human nature. We can't help it; that's how many of us were brought up. But it doesn't mean that it's right, or that we should continue to subscribe to that kind of biases.
I still remember when I first dated an African-American. Trust me, my innate or learned biases were in full force, but I was attracted despite myself, and I decided to fight these biases and focus on the PERSON and not the skin color. It helps that I am a racial minority myself; and I asked myself, "How would I feel if someone rejects me simply because of my skin color or the shape of my eyes or any preconceived notion of what Asians are about?" The answer was simple.
I still remember in college, my girlfriend and I were double-dating with this other couple who seemed very down to earth and all-American. We were having a good time when a couple of friends -- African-American -- said hello to us before they left the bar. Teresa turned to us and said, "Why are you associated with them?" I asked, "Why not? What's the matter?" Teresa continued to say, "They're black!!!" I said, "I am Asian." She said, "Yeah, I know, but you Asians are okay because you're smart and hardworking."
Needless to say, I never spoke with Teresa and her boyfriend anymore after that.
For me, I fully understand how someone can feel that way, but I can't understand why someone should continue to feel that way. We're all products of our culture, backgrounds and upbringing, but we're not prisoners of our past. Racism is not right, and is NEVER right -- it doesn't matter if you were brought up to think it was right. Think for yourself. Educate yourself. Better yet, go out and meet people and make friends with people of all races and nationalities and see for yourself there is absolutely nothing to fear or hate or dislike about someone simply based on race alone.