John joined the Army in 2006, and the most valuable lesson he learned while he was serving was that his racist views were not valid.
Choosing to Join the Service
In the small town where John lived in South Carolina, there were not a lot of career options. He was tired of having dead-end jobs, and the mechanic shop he had been working at went out of business. So he decided to join the army.
Raised Around Narrow-Minded People
He was raised in a single-stoplight town, and his parents were (and still are) pretty racist.
He grew up thinking of black people as inferior, being taught that the white race was the perfect race. This was his upbringing, and one could say he was a product of his environment.
Keeping His Views Secret
John joined the Army as a 91B and went through basic training. He knew being racist wasn’t acceptable in the Army, so he kept his thoughts to himself.
After completing basic training, he proceeded to Advanced Individual Training (AIT).
The Shock When He Saw His Roommate
When he arrived at his first unit, they were assigned to live in barracks with two soldiers per room.
John walked into his assigned room and was taken aback to find his roommate was Black.
There Were Immediate Issues
At first, they had some issues, which he now realizes were rooted in his racism.
John complained to his NCO about the difficulties he had with his roommate but was told to get used to it, as there was nothing that could be done.
They Started to Get Along
Over the next few months, however, John and his roommate, Derrick, started to get along.
A Fight Broke Out at a Bar
Over the next six months, John got to know Derrick better. Derrick turned out to be a cool guy, and one night when John was out in town drinking with his then-girlfriend, an argument broke out with another person.
Coincidentally, Derrick happened to be in the same bar and stepped in to defuse the situation.
A Good Realization
The next morning, John woke up and realized that if he had gotten into the fight, he would have gotten in trouble, especially since their unit had recently experienced several alcohol-related incidents.
Turning the Page
John expressed his gratitude to Derrick, who simply replied, “Nah man, we’re in the same unit, we’re buddies.
We’ve got to watch out for each other. No need to thank me; I know you’d do the same.”
They Started Becoming Friends
From that point on, John and Derrick got along even better and started hanging out together.
A few more months passed, and Derrick invited John to his brother’s wedding. It was a few hours away, and Derrick thought it would be fun for John to attend.
His Big Wake-up Call
Although John had already shed much of his racism by then, this wedding served as a wake-up call.
He had never been surrounded by this many Hispanic and black people simultaneously. Initially, he felt nervous, as it was a first for him.
Just a year before, he would have believed that interracial marriages were wrong. But there he was, feeling at home.
One of the Best Parties Ever!
The wedding was one of the best parties John had ever attended. The food was great, the drinks were flowing, and everyone was having a good time.
The next day, as he nursed a hangover, John made a promise to himself never to make an issue out of race again. He also vowed to stand up against racism if he ever encountered it.
Time Passed and They Remained Friends
The following year went well, and John and Derrick remained close friends.
When the time came for Derrick to be reassigned, John realized he had never told Derrick about his past racism.
A Farewell Party
He also didn’t believe Derrick knew the impact he had on changing John’s views.
To celebrate Derrick’s departure, they decided to go to a local bar for a farewell party and got drunk.
A Heart-To-Heart Talk
Outside the bar, while having a smoke, John mustered up the courage to share with Derrick how he had transformed his views on race.
He apologized for the issues they had in the beginning, attributing it to his narrow-mindedness.
Confessing to His Racist Past
Derrick graciously accepted John’s apology and admitted he suspected that some initial issues stemmed from racial factors.
Derrick expressed pride in his ability to bring about a positive change in John’s perspective on race.
Remaining Friends Throughout the Years
Derrick and John maintained their connection and continued to stay in touch, and John will attend Derrick’s wedding this year.
One commenter praised him saying, “People aren’t racist by nature, they grow up in a racist environment and are configured as such. It’s really mature of you to be able to look back and say “I was wrong, but I’ve grown and changed.”
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