I used to be like you. Naive and living in a state where racism wasn't obvious.
Then I lived in GA for 8 years.
What a rude awakening.
First, let me say I LOATHE the term "reverse racism". Reverse racism would be not racist. Racism is one race against another, not just owned by minorities. I also hate when people pronounce Mischievous "Mis-chee-vee-ous", when there is clearly no "I" after the "v", making the correct usage "Mis-che-vous".
But that's a whole other topic.
While working in staffing agencies, it was normal for a client to specifically tell me they didn't want black people. It got to the point I had to submit resumes with no names, when the name was clearly ethnic, or they would not agree to interview the person. This is why I tell people that depending on where they live, be careful what you name your child, because people may not even look at you as a candidate if they have a bias.
I also had many companies ask specifically for mexicans, and they actually would pay MORE for someone of that nationality, because they were hard workers.
I don't understand why people think that undocumented workers don't pay taxes. Most of them do, as they carry fake social security cards, and still have to complete the requisite tax forms. So they pay in to our system, yet cannot draw the benefits later.
No matter what racist or sexist job orders I had been given, I always advised my clients that I would submit the best qualified person for the job, period, and that I could not accept job specifications based on race, religion, sex or creed.
Probably the most irritating, and shocking experience I have had in dealing with racism, was a coworker of mine who was a white girl from Mississippi. She was married, to her family's dismay, to a Puerto Rican, and had two mixed race daughters with him. But she was fast to tell you she only married him because she mistakenly got knocked up, or she wouldn't have married a Puerto Rican. She also told me during the first Obama campaign, that she wasn't ready to vote for a black guy for President. The hipocrisy stung me. How can you be the mother of two mixed race children, yet not be "ready" for a mixed race President?
The political parties have completely changed. It used to be that most southerners were democrats...back when they owned slaves. It's funny now, that all the southern states are now red. Just a coincidence?
People love to say that they aren't racist. My experience is, if you feel you have to verbalize it, you're a racist.
Thank Goodness I have raised two race-blind children. It's much easier to live your live when you choose your friends and, eventually political figures, when race isn't a factor.
And as someone pale as a ghost, I can't wait to introduce some mixed culture into my own family, as my red-headed youngest seems to have an affinity for girls who are latin in ethnicity.