I think that very few people are so cartoonishly evil that they sit their kids down and give them long lectures on why other cultures are a threat to our glowing, angel-white way of life. I’m not saying that those people don’t exist, but for the most part becoming a racist is all about slightly more subtle conditioning. Just like every other facet of your life, it’s all learned when you’re a kid: your taste in food, music, clothes … the way you interact with other people, your most devastating wrestling finishing move. The lessons you learn back then are as embedded into your brain as capillaries are in your skin.
I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know, but it’s important to acknowledge this as the starting point, because when a 6-year-old kid makes a racist comment, he’s not doing it with the ability to internally debate complex ideas and vocalize the results. He’s repeating something he heard that made an adult react in a positive way. Dad saying that “the easiest way to kill a [Latino person] is to starve him by hiding his food stamps under his work boots” made the whole room laugh. A comment about an interracial couple got all the adults talking about who deserves more to be shot: the “[*****]-loving white cunt” or “that fucking [whatever animal they choose to dehumanize another race].” When you see and hear this enough, your tiny, stupid child brain thinks, “I want to make dad laugh. I want to be included in the adult group.” So you repeat what you’ve heard, and sure enough everyone in the room is laughing because this innocent little kid just said some extremely dark shit. It’s like laughing at a toddler who just picked up on a curse word and keeps saying it because every time he does, someone laughs – and not because he understands what “rimjob” means.