Since the El Paso shooter that targeted Mexicans, and a man stopped by the FBI from shooting up a gay bar and firebombing a synagogue, I can’t stop thinking how terrifying it must be to be Jewish, or a person of color or part of the LGBTQ community in America today.

It must add to their terror that people deny that this horror is happening. For instance, people may believe Fox News host Tucker Carlson that white supremacy “is a hoax.”

I wish it was a hoax, but that’s not what the Anti-Defamation League says. It found white supremacist murders in the U.S. “more than doubled in 2017,” with far-right extremist groups and white supremacists “responsible for 59% of all extremist-related fatalities in the U.S. in 2017.”

Also, FBI Director Christopher Wray recently said they've made about 100 domestic terrorism-related arrests since October, and the majority were tied to white supremacy.

With all the recent discussions about racism, I remembered an incident that happened over 30 years ago during my student teaching stint.

It was a conversation with a few of my fellow student teachers who were much younger than me. One woman shared that she was from a small town, and that she was the first one born on New Year's Day so she was showered with gifts by the hospital or town.

Then she went on to say that she wasn't actually the first baby born that year, “There was a black baby born before me, but you know...” I don't think she even attempted to explain more than that. It was understood that she meant the black baby wasn't going to be recognized because her life wasn't as valuable as the young white woman's.

She told the story so nonchalantly that I found myself unable to utter a word. No one else did either. The conversation quickly turned to the next topic. Maybe it hit some of the other students like it did me, but no one attempted to address her bigotry.

I'm sure she was a good person that was simply told from the moment she entered this world that she was superior to blacks. Her parents weren't alone in instilling those beliefs in her. The town and institutions where she grew up also played a part.

This young woman is not white supremacist, but that feeling of being superior to others is fertile ground for hatred to grow. I see that story as a perfect microcosm of America's deep-seated racism that infects our government and institutions and how we white people can be oblivious to it at times.

The most terrifying aspect of this violent time is how President Donald Trump is stoking racism and violence. Trump says he’s the least racist person in the world, but apparently some white supremacists don't agree. David Duke, the former KKK grand wizard often praises Trump.

Also, the gunman who killed at least 49 people in New Zealand mosques wrote that Trump was “a symbol of renewed white identity and common purpose.”

Before the El Paso massacre, Trump whipped up his rally crowd about the desperate people at the southern border “invading” our country. He asks them, “How do you stop these people?” When someone at the rally shouted their solution — “Shoot them!” — Trump only made joke and the crowd cheered.

I'm so sorry that I didn't attempt to pierce that young teacher's bigotry before she stepped into a classroom. I hope Americans today do a better job of standing up for our neighbors than I did 30 years ago.