I want to believe we are past this type of discrimination, but I would be naive to do so. Recent incidents, such as this and this, rudely remind me that out there are people who hate based on skin color.
The problem is that it isn't just "out there." It's my mother in Maine saying that when she talked to her friends, some admitted that they could never vote for anyone non-white. It's knowing that other family in Maine agree with this, but wouldn't dare say it to me. It's my neighbor three doors down, who saw me on Halloween and expressed admiration for our yard signs and then said her husband could never vote for someone black. My kids were standing right there and I could only hope they were so caught up in the excitement that they didn't hear her. It's a friends, who is an attorney, who admits she doesn't support McCain but she'll vote for him because "you know."
When I taught, a student in my AP class made a racist comment. I went off - explaining why racism is wrong and why we have laws preventing discrimination and why I would NEVER tolerate it my classroom. Later in the day, the only black student from that class came to see me. She explained that as a minority in a nearly all white school, she had come to learn that some people were just ignorant and it was a waste of time to argue with them. She had better things to do than waste time on someone so ignorant. I understood her point, but I couldn't agree because I think discussion can help some people learn; if nothing else that class understood that I found their prejudice abhorrent and it would not be tolerated there. They learned that an authority figure had a different opinion from what they may be learning at home.
But here in the real world, people can not only believe in racial discrimination, they can vocalize their position. And they can vote their beliefs, ignoring the real issues of economy, war, foreign relations, and the environment. And that's why I scared.