Weirdly enough, I encouner the most subtle forms of racism from OTHER African Americans who have, themselves, become victims of non-African American perceptions. (Yeah, my avatar looks nothing like me...I chose him because he looks good, for an avatar, with his little avatar shirt off.)
But anyway, the worst racism I have encountered was interlized racism within the African American community. I'm a science fiction writer and I don't listen to rap or any modern R&B. I suck at basketball, and though I don't look down on any of the "popular" forms of African American expression, I am tired of being acused of "trying to be white" if I DON'T speak street slang, or wear baggy pants, or any of that other stereotypical stuff. There are enough non-Blacks willing to say that people of color can't speak "proper" English or read their way through a Jane Austen novel...why do other African Americans have to say so? Especially when it's so far from the truth, that it would take the light from the truth 100,000,000 years to reach it?
Being from Chicago, I speak really nasal Midwestern Standard English, which also causes the strongest discriminatory attitudes to come out. I always get: "You don't talk like a Black person." To which I commonly respond. "How can you say that? I am a Black person, how can I NOT sound like one...?" if I am feeling particuarly snitty, I usually add. "I am Black and I talk like this...the fact that you haven't heard others talk this way doesn't mean that there aren't any, it just means thay YOU need to get out more." That never goes over too well, especially if the person originally causing that response is of African American descent.
From both African Americans and non African Americans, I have also experienced the same prejudicial surprise that I write science fiction and prefer a good passacaglia to bad rap. And in each instance, I always ask: Are we not capable of writing? Are we not capable of making music or adapting pre-existing styles and modes of art to our own purposes...just like EVERYBODY ELSE does? Are we not MORE than entertainers and athletes, are not some of the best opera singers African American, are not two of the world's best fencing champions an African American brother and sister duo?
It seems as if Black culture has been totally hijacked by street culture, at least in America, and since I don't fit the "street culture" stereotype, Americans (African American and non African American) tend to fall back onto the "You're so different" routine, when I'm SO much like a LOT of the other African American people I know...heck, I'm way too much like MOST of the people I know and consider my closest friends. I am continuously confronted with the racial assumptions that are made on a minute-to-minute basis in this country, and I've seen that they're so pervasive, that nearly everyone is victim to them.
It's quite ironic that Americans (African-derived and otherwise) spend so much time talking about tollerance and acceptance and honest inter-cultural dialogues, yet the most accepting or at least non-stereotype-seeing groups of people I experience in my day to day life are Europeans--the bulk of whom are post-Communists from those countries that are allegedly overrun by Neo Nazis, and rising numbers of bigoted neo-Communists. I work for a Polish company and will soon be an English teacher in Russia; and Poles and Russians are consistently NOT surprised by the fact that I have SOMETHING human in common with them.
But America has long had problems with race. We're taught from birth to be obsessed with it, while at the same time living in complete denial about it. Discrimination against people of color has worked its way INTO communities of color, and anyone from those communities NOT fitting the pervasive stereotypes (on television, in newspapers, in magazines, etc.) are often attacked, subtly so, from within their own ethnic communities and from the dominant white culture of this country. It is both a hopeful and terrifying fact that among the numerous expatriates that this country produces, a huge number of them are African Americans who don't leave because they wish to "escape" from America, but simply because it's nice to go to a place that most surely WILL have racism and discrimination. But the difference between "there" in whichever country it may be, and here...is that at least "there" no one will ever be surprised that YES...all African Americans are not purse-snatching, gang-banging, bullet-riddled athletes from "the hood" but rather as diverse a group of people as anyone else.