In this day and age, the majority would like to claim not to be racist. If you live and work in a large city, chances are you interact with people of various races and most of us can do this quite easily.
However racism isn't an action; it is a belief. You may not be a white supremacist, but when you are walking alone at night, would you be more inclined to feel fear when you see someone of your own race or someone of another? When you think of the "bad parts" of your town, what sort of people are there? Are they people of your own race or another? The very fact that people of the same race tend to stick together in large cities demonstrates that most are more comfortable around people of their own race.
Of course this fear of the unknown doesn't just apply to race. Many people display a fear of homosexuals, often leading to violence. In fact many have successfully used the so called gay panic defence to excuse their irrational violence against homosexuals. Because you fear gays, it is now OK to attack them.
Many others are stereotyped in a way that makes society wary of them. Police, politicians, used car salesmen, real estate agents are all considered distrustful by many.
And what of the pedophiles and zoophiles. Many would argue that children and animals cannot give informed consent to sex. However many argue the opposite. I will admit, the idea of a grown man having sex with a child repulses me, I imagine many would feel the same. However are we allowing our disgust, our hate and fear, to dictate others morality? Perhaps if we let go of our fear we can examine the issues and determine the truth, but if we do not we are making conclusions based solely on fear and ignorance.
But how does one let go of this fear? People do not choose to be racist. Many very liberal heterosexuals will still feel uncomfortable when someone of the same gender makes a pass at them. Even if you are not guilty of a crime, many will be wary when a police officer approaches. How do we change our attitudes?
Education is one way, since these fears are caused by ignorance, education would be the obvious solution. However many would disagree with an education system that teaches that homosexuality is good or that authority figures can be trusted. Education instead needs to concentrate on having people look beyond the superficial and seeing exactly what makes up a person before judging them.
How effective education can be at changing attitudes I don't know. People will often believe things regardless of any evidence to the contrary.
Whatever the solution the first step is to realise there is a problem. Racists and bigots are not evil people, the are simply people who hold beliefs that cause them to judge others out of ignorance. Those who would judge them without knowing them are no better.