People who try to maintain, despite the evidence, that favorite racists authors were just men of their times are not only frequently mistaken, they’re also typically working an agenda.
But anyway, no, Lovecraft wasn’t a “Man of his time” when it came to views on race. Heck, in 1915 when Birth of a Nation came out, it critics and audiences at the time were both mesmerized and horrified by it. The narrative, epic sweep of the film was unlike anything anyone had ever seen in movies. But contemporary audiences and writers called out the inherent horrific racism of the film just the same. Heck, there was much talk of blocking the release of BoaN even while it was still in production due to the racist nature of the film. In fact, the Griffith film essentially “made” the NAACP a major organization, since that group organized nationwide protests against the film’s release and distribution, thus requiring newspapers covering those protests to write about the organization.
You can, of course, also look at contemporary writers of the time. There are so, so, so many misconceptions here regarding Lovecraft. First: writers in the 1920s and 1930s did not write in Lovecraft’s horribly affected, florid style. He was attempting (poorly) to imitate the writing style and voice of gothic romantics of the 19th century. (A style Lovecraft wasn’t really up to the task of trying to imitate; his prose is riddled with the kind of usage, tense, and redundancy errors one normally finds in freshman english comp classes.)
But the other misconception – at least in this thread – is that Lovecraft’s racism, antisemitism and xenophobia were also “of the time”. And that just isn’t true about writing of that period. When a guy born and raised near Oxford, Mississippi like Billy Faulkner can write a story like “Dry September” in 1931, well… (And hey, the most popular, highest-selling novel of the second half of the 19th century – Huckleberry Finn – was an important, pointed anti-racism/anti-slavery narrative.) And as another tangent, even ol’ Abe Lincoln had to get a little religion on racism. Early on, Abe spoke out in mild favor of “repatriation” of freed slaves to Africa – basically, sending men and women who’d been born in the US as slaves to a continent and counties they’d never set foot upon. Abe’s own advisors pulled him aside and said “Uh, ixnay, Linc; that shit is racist as hell. Emancipation and incorporation into society, that’s where you need to land on this.” And so he did, thankfully, because he was a thoughtful man whose moral compass (eventually) led him down the right path most of the time.