First of all, kudos to you Roaring20's for creating this group!
I must say that with much embarrassment, that racism is very much alive and well here in the south. I currently live in the mountains and I can't begin to tell you the extent to which this vile poison that is called racism exists. The "n" word is used liberally and the small community of Latino folks are viewed as only cheap (illegal) labor for the local chicken processing plant. One never sees a person of color here unless there is a festival or celebration. The "stars and bars" of the confederate flag seen all over this small town are not welcoming to change.
So I moved here for love. A feminist,gay,vegetarian who abhors prejudice in any form. I stick out like a sore thumb here but I think real change is often implemented from within the community. I don't put up with slurs and the local newspaper editor is all too familiar with my liberal idealism. It wasn't always this way in my life.
I was adopted and raised by a mother with Italian roots and her husband was Cajun-Creole. Despite my mom having her Italian blood, she had no problem joining in discussions with her husband and others; spouting ugly racial rhetoric about anyone that wasn't "white." I remember squirming in my seat and feeling so "tainted" when I was around this.
Mama's best friend Fran was a liberal democrat(How did THAT happen?!?) with a gay daughter. My mother told me she was "sweet but misguided" but I thank my lucky stars that Fran was in my life. It was she who encouraged me to read and educate myself; to see beyond the hatred that surrounded me. By the time I was 12, I was telling my parents to "please not use that hateful language around me" when they said something that was wrought with prejudice.
Based on my experience, I believe it starts with our young people. We need to educate kids and let them know that we are ALL equal regardless of race or any other category by which others try to define us. Once we instill humanity in our youth, we can change the world.