The Civil Rights Act of 1964, subject of the current national conversation about race, was necessary not because "we're all racists"--indeed, if we are, such a law would seem to be an exercise in futility--but because a racist doctrine dominated, and defined the laws of, a region of the country. If "racism" is just a universal human shortcoming, then what was the point of condemning Jim Crow?Violent urges are universal (or nearly so), yet we outlaw all sorts of acts of violence. We don't pretend that because we've criminalized murder, assault, and rape that we've eradicated violent urges. By the same token, if we enact a law that prohibits various harmful actions that people might take based on racist thoughts, we don't pretend that we've eradicated the thoughts. We've come together as a nation over the belief that certain actions are wrong, but we might still want to look into our own hearts and question how good we really are.
I can think of 2 reasons why we might want to do this, even if we feel quite sure we're far from the stereotypical ugly racist.
1. We may aspire to a higher morality than the conventional norm. I think of Jesus saying "Be perfect... as your heavenly Father is perfect."
2. We might be deluded about the positions and policies we believe are right. Perhaps there are some deep or repressed beliefs about race that underlie something we think will do good. For example, those who support affirmative action should want to make sure that they are not motivated by racial prejudices that they are in denial about. So should those who oppose it. Doubt yourself. Test yourself. Don't be complacent.