Last night (well, technically this morning) at my work I was loading an Arizona trailer with my friend and co-worker Wendy. It was a slow night so we were able to talk about a lot of things: from music, to relationships, to school, language, and so on. During the conversation it somehow got steered toward race (probably my doing). Wendy, 34 and Nicaraguan (she moved her permanently as a teenager), told me how it was very hard for her to explain to her youngest daughter (who's Latino and Black, but looks very much Black) that she wasn't white. She said that one day her daughter told her that she was white and Wendy, probably very carefully, had to tell her daughter that she wasn't white, but instead very Black, and Latino as well.
"No! I'm not Black!" She yelled. "I'm white! I'm white!" She was about four years old when this happened. She now realizes (she around eight or nine I think) that she is Latino and Black but this gives us a window, and the opportunity, to see how pervasive racism is in our society.
Growing up (and still today) all she saw in the media was white faces. White faces on billboards, white faces in movies (Disney no doubt), white faces on the sides of buses, taxi cab signs, buildings, commercials, and TV shows. All she probably saw was white faces. If she saw any type of people of color at all in the media it was probably on debates about whether or not Latinos should be U.S. citizens or a rise in the rate of homicides and crime in Oakland's Black community. So all she probably ever saw relating to Black people were (and still are) negative stereotypes. All she probably ever saw of white people were positive stereotypes: the leading role, the princess, the beauty queen, etc.
So it would make perfect sense for someone who is aware and conscious of today's ills (and someone who is of color) to see why she reacted the way she did and why she yelled out. "No! I'm not Black!"
Another friend of mine told me he cried when he found out he wasn't white because not being white meant not being "normal" since all he saw in the media (and in his school) were white faces. Another one of my friends didn't know he wasn't white until he was five or six, and that fact, he told me, confused the Hell out of him.
So if you ask me how deep racism and white cultural supremacy runs throughout Western society and in America. It's that deep.