‘Does Not Mean He’s Not a Racist Anymore’: Viral Photo of White Man Painting Biracial Girl’s Toenails as a Sign That He’s No Longer Prejudice Sparks Debate on Social Media

A resurfaced photo of an older white man painting a biracial toddler’s toenails has spurred a lengthy tread of debate on X, formerly known as Twitter.

An account named Call To Activism shared the photo on July 27 with the caption: “My dad didn’t approve when l married a dark skin man. He’s some kind of a racist hillbilly. When l was pregnant he told me he didn’t want anything to do with my biracial daughter. Here, he is painting her toenails on her 3rd birthday.”

Here’s proof people can change.”

It is unclear where the photo originated, but another X user pointed out that it was shared on Reddit at least seven years ago. The X post has been viewed over 13 million times on the platform.

Viral Photo of White Man Painting Biracial Girl's Toenails As a Sign That He's No Longer Prejudice Sparks Debate on Social Media
Older white man paint girl’s nails. (Photo: Twitter/Call To Activism)

While it received some warm responses from some viewers who thought the photo was touching, some argued that ridding someone of racism is not as simple as getting them to love a “dark-skinned” grandchild.

“Him painting his granddaughters nails does not mean he’s not a racist anymore,” wrote Diane Lewis, who faced criticism for her comment.

“Really? So you’re one of those that thinks once a racist always a racist? Sounds like a big time virtue signal to me,” one user said in a reply to Lewis.

“No I’m one of those that knows that a racist may have legitimate feelings for their offspring but that doesn’t erase their racist views,” Lewis argued.

The phenomenon that Lewis and others wrapped in the discussion is referring to is when a person believes that people from a particular racial group possess certain negative traits or characteristics but makes an exception for one person because of their personal connection. It also speaks to the belief that colorblindness promotes racial harmony, according to social psychologists.

“He probably didn’t change. He most likely just views that child as an exception,” wrote another X user.

“Exactly!! I swear some white people live in the land of make believe,” another user replied.

“Even slave owners had Black kids/grandchildren they didn’t change they’re still as nasty and racist as ever,” wrote another.

Although the true story behind the viral photo and what the man pictured actually feels for the small child is currently unknown, some viewers shared their family stories of mixed-race relationships and how it impacted their families.

“This happened to my racist uncle. His daughter married a black man and they had three children. My uncle was at every school event, birthday party, and walked his beautiful granddaughter down the aisle to the love of her life. Turns out those grandkids were the love of his life,” wrote one user.

On the flip side, one user said his mother told him that he was “ruining her life” for dating a Black woman.

“She wanted nothing to do with my children and tried comparing interracial marriages to a sign of rapture. She told me she would only be interested in a relationship if I renounced them,” he wrote.

According to Berkley psychologist professor Rodolfo Mendoza-Denton reducing racist views does include having friendships and relationships with other groups to broaden perspectives and familiarize a person’s brain with different experiences. However, it also requires acknowledging the differences between people rather than ignoring them, but also finding common ground with others who are different.

Potential reformed racists, Mendoza-Denton added, should also consciously commit to treating all everyone as equals and speak out against clear instances of bias.

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