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  • I was born in Boston in 1962 but grew up in St. Louis, Missouri and went to public schools in the 1970’s where I was in a white minority in grade school, junior high and high school.
    I was not prepared for or protected from the tension between race and along class lines.

    I had no idea what kind of world we had all just inherited in the secondary wave of post civil rights social adjustments.

    St. Louis, then, was separated along race and ethnic lines.
    Cross a street and you crossed a cultural divide.

    I remember driving over to East St. Louis seeing neighborhoods with dirt roads.
    No white people lived there.

    Where we lived, University City, was somewhat of a melting pot where the lines could blur a little, if you squinted.
    The white people had the bigger houses.
    The suburbs were all white and the inner city was all black.

    We were what we were, educated middle class white people, with an East coast, half Jewish, liberal background attached to a University.
    We were transplants, strangers to the Mid West, although no part of the country was immune from the issues of race, it just all looked different there.
    It looked more black and white there.

    In High school I worked at a fast food restaurant with kids who went to the inner city schools, they had to deal with violence and metal detectors.
    They sang in the church choirs and wondered why us white girls dressed so sloppy.
    Because we could imitate the hippies and it would be fashionable.
    I see that now, back then we couldn’t.

    When I transferred to another High School I took a city bus downtown through devastated neighborhoods, block after block of abandoned and boarded up buildings.
    The area was later bought up by developers and gentrified.
    Many cities in the US were going through a similar cycle.

    Have we discussed this enough or well enough as a Nation or as individuals?
    No, but we keep trying.

    We have, as a Nation, made progress towards exposing the next level of work we still need to do.
    But I think there will always be a next level to work on.
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