"These election animosities are old news to me," wrote 81-year-old Mimi Loupe of La Habra. "As a child, I remember families and friends broken apart over Roosevelt and Dewey.... Get over this race thing. Get rid of the chip on your shoulder."
Some were more blunt, like Marsha Roseman of Van Nuys. "My husband and I fought for civil rights in the '60s. We are supporters of Mitt Romney. You are the racist, and your article is divisive and disgusting."
I heard that a lot — that I'm stirring the pot because I can't see past race to reality. I was offended, too, at being labeled a racist. I found myself countering with some shopworn version of "Some of my best friends are white people...." Now that's embarrassing.
And it's also evidence of how hard it is, when you're talking about race across a racial divide, not to come off sounding like a boob.
Readers told me they have experienced that feeling too. "Your column covered an issue that is never discussed in polite society … at least not in 'white' society," wrote Jim Brigham, who has learned to tiptoe around the subject with friends and co-workers.
What heartened me is how many people are wrestling with the subject, acknowledging that even unintentional bias can be difficult to dislodge.
"I've never been able to completely shed the sense of 'them' and 'us,' " wrote a white Obama supporter who grew up in a rural area "where there were no black people at all." He supports the president "because he's a smart, thoughtful man who has done his very best to make good decisions for America."
And yet, "I'm embarrassed to admit that I still see the 'black' first, and only after shaking hands and talking does that fade away, at which point the person emerges and the color ceases to matter."
That can be a hard point to reach as a nation too — but we are moving toward it.
Listen to this woman, "white, Christian, a successful businesswoman, and so embarrassed by the Republican Party that I hate to admit I ever was one."
Yet she feels "the pull of Romney's 'he looks like me' persona."
She went on to list things that she appreciates from Obama's first term, including affordable healthcare for her grown children. Still, voting for him isn't easy.
"Obama is different than me. His name is funny and he reminds me of things that feel scary. I overcome this unease with my intellect and my ... moral compass," she wrote.
"I'm sorry I have anything to overcome at all. Please forgive me. Because it is our country. Bless it."