Gerald (Jerry) Zezas

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Why Do We Keep Forgiving Old Racists?


I know that I’ve written about this before, but why don’t I ever see a documentary in which someone who wasn’t racist in the 60s becomes racist in his later years?

Why don’t I see documentaries about Freedom Riders from the 1960s becoming enlightened and acknowledging that they were wrong to believe that blacks should be equal, and now believe that we’ve got to keep dem’ coloreds in dere’ place?

Why don’t I ever see current Klansman who consider themselves to have been naive when they were young and non-racist and finally came around to understanding that the white man is simply superior to blacks?

I keep seeing, over and over, racists from the past, meeting with those who they subjugated and expecting forgiveness, since, after all they were young and stupid. And we forgive them as they weep over their own stupidity.

Why don’t I ever see it going the other way? Why doesn’t maturity and intelligence breed racism, if racism is such an intellectual pursuit? Why to people appear to grow into tolerance, but not feel the need to apologize for their actions when they weren’t?

People tend to become smarter with age and experience. Does this mean that racists are just stupid and slow on the uptake? Does it mean that they just take longer than everyone else to understand what everyone else does? Why else do you see such an abundance of racists who refute their racism in their later years?


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