Let's say I live in Alaska, and the state government makes a lot of money from oil revenues. Let's also say that the State Government decides to cut checks to residents rather than increasing services. (So far, I think this happened.)
Let's say that the State Government, for the sake of my analogy, only cut checks to White residents.
I'm White. My check comes from the State in the mail. I was not involved in the decision to cut checks only to White residents. I cash my check.
Am I racist?
Reality isn't usually quite this cut and dried because even if the powers that be want to exercise that sort of racism they conceal it a little better than that, like by instituting policies that apply to populations not defined by race that happen to be overwhelmingly Black. In the old days this was done via legislation like the Grandfather Clause. Now it's done by disenfranchising voters. Like convicted felons. Arrest Black people out of proportion, charge out of proportion (like misdemeanor vs. felony), convict out of proportion, and voila! disenfranchised Blacks without saying that you did. Or Voter ID laws, same deal.
Or like happens in Ferguson, MO. Taxes are cut, so in order to keep the municipality afloat, police arrest poor people on trumped up charges involving exorbitant fines that compound because of typical ways poor people can't pay their original fines (like not being able to go to work because they have to watch their kids), and of course they can't afford representation, so they're vulnerable to this. And the poor people in these communities just so happen to be disproportionately minority. As Ron points out, streetlights in middle class White neighborhoods get paid for by this revenue stream.
Let's say I live in one of these overwhelmingly White neighborhoods and my kids are safer because of the streetlights. Am I racist?
What am I supposed to do, dress my kids in ninja outfits at night so they have a better chance of being hit by a car, thereby not taking advantage of the streetlights? Move out of the neighborhood even though living in this neighborhood is what enables me to work where I work and support my kids?
Though I have no interest in profiting from racism and I am not profiting from it intentionally, I am profiting from it. Does that make me part of the problem?