I have written about this before but a lot of white people keep saying back then people were all racist/sexist/bigoted. And I beg to differ. But let's pretend for a moment that this was true. That anti-racism was an expansion pack that got released at some point. I am unclear if it was first beta tested by folks of color and then released to white people later. Also for mixed race folks, which release were they in? And if everyone was bigoted who even knew to develop an anti-bigotry expansion, that would be some really visionary thinking.
Here's what we need to learn to accept. Bigotry used to be far more accepted in many cultures. You could certainly argue that even today, it will get you elected President.
That doesn't mean that no one noticed that bigotry was bad. I'm really sure that people who were stolen from their homes and forced to be slaves knew that this sucked. It's nicer to think maybe they didn't know. Just like it's nicer to think a few white Europeans were a little bit mean to some of the Native Americans they encountered but mostly everyone was super nice to each other and shared food and there definitely wasn't like decades of bloodshed where the European descended folks constantly stole and hunted Native Americans. Or that time rich Americans overthrew the government of Hawaii because sugar. Or rounded up and jailed a bunch of people because they were good at farming, er, I mean a possible danger to the US because people who looked like them had done a thing. Or...baby jails. This is an abbreviated list.
But I wrote a paper in my British History class in college about contemporaneous vs. Contemporary views of King John and got the best grade I got all year for looking at how nowadays we were like, well, losing control of France was inevitable and folks at the time were like that was ours, dude, how could you? So, I am perfectly aware that priorities and such change over time. And that is sometimes a good thing.
But we can enjoy problematic things, be they old or not, and still also say, okay, this bit is crappy. And here's my real question about this anti-racism expansion pack, those of you who keep arguing that everyone was racist then, are you sure your expansion pack is okay? I think it might need to be upgraded so that you can recognize that just about every time someone did a crappy thing, someone else said, ew, what are you doing? Sometimes that second person suffered for speaking out. Sometimes they got pushed away or silenced. But if you think all these movements for change just happened because someone had an aha moment the morning before, gosh, do you have a lot of learning to do. Maybe there's an expansion pack for that too.