That refrain is heard from the old guys, especially the Seniors like myself, older than the Baby Boomers. They were invoking a time when there was no racial strife. Naturally, they ignore the history studies that chronicle riots and lynchings in those very days when we all got along. There was no racial strife because Blacks dared not raise their heads. Some did, of course, but the press did not report it because it was not considered newsworthy. Truman had to be told that Black veterans were being beaten and even murdered while in uniform. He was outraged even though he himself was as racist as any average White person of the day.
So when I think back to when I was young and aware but without the fillip of attending a Black church and marrying into a Black family. Precious few years; only my high school years, I would say and my first two college years. But there was this guy who had done a church mission in Finland and so spoke Finnish. We both were interested in languages and we often talked. One day we were sitting on the lawn on campus and girl watching. ASU then and now had lots and lots of pretty girls. At one point two Black girls walked by and I eyeballed them like I did the other girls and he startled me by asking, “Do you look at them, too?” Not being stupid, I surmised he had their color in mind. I replied that I did, saying something like, “They’re girls, aren’t they?” And he said he just could not see them as attractive.
We never extended our friendship but if we had, that issue would surely have come between us. How can you write off a whole tranche of the human gene pool? Easy. When you are taught to.