Some recent posts have been about "white-passing" people and light-skin privilege. My ancestry is northern and Eastern European, and I am described as having an "English complexion." I still have a general idea of the debates, though I would very much appreciate being corrected where I'm wrong. What I'm more familiar with is the forms the discussions take and have historically taken among African-Americans. There were those laws that said if a person had "one drop" of African "blood," they were African-American. Well, the descriptors of the people were much less polite than "African-American."
Thanks to that rule, many people who were very fair-skinned were included in the black community. It proved useful to certain investigators involved with race issues of the time, those who identified as part of the black community. Walter F. White, a NAACP leader and civil rights activist (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Walter_Francis_White), did a number of investigations into conditions in the South in the early part of the twentieth century, looking at lynching and other hate crimes. From what I gather, there were a number of situations where if he'd been known to be black, he would have been killed.
There's a storied tradition of white-passing individuals helping the community by exposing what the stories were in white-against-black crimes, especially lynchings and riots. Some white-passing people choose to leave for better economic and social opportunities, though I think probably far less than in earlier decades. Historically, they'd lose at least some contact with their families, and hear all kinds of racist language presumed to be "safe" to say to someone who appeared to be white.
Individuals now who have white skin and were raised in communities of color still hear all kinds of casually racist language when they're out and about among white people. Light-skinned African-Americans may use African-American Vernacular English to clarify where they're coming from, at least at times.
Mostly when I hear outright racist statements, it's from Dad's veteran friends. I'm pretty sure he doesn't challenge it. They're men a generation or more older than I am, and I really don't like confrontation. However, I need to challenge it when I hear it. Most of them seem to have decided that the president wasn't born in the U.S. When I discussed that with Mom, she said, "They're a bunch of racists!"
"Technically that was xenophobia," I said. Not that that's any better. Right-wing forces in the country have worked and worked to spread the belief among many people that the president was foreign-born (not true) and Muslim (he's Christian). A startlingly high percentage of U.S. citizens believe those things now.
I have a responsibility to engage in discussion with other white people if they say racist things. I'd rather do it one-on-one, and hopefully in a situation that's safe for me. Perhaps I might enlighten a few people. Then there's letting them know not to use that kind of language around me. I did it when R.A.'s boyfriend M.G. used that other f-word. Seriously, how could I look S. in the eyes if I let that kind of language go by?