Here’s my disclaimer as I open up a racial conversation: I’m a white woman living in the Chicago suburbs where I also grew up. My husband, family, and neighbors are white. In grammar school, I can remember two girls who were black, and in a high school of about 2600 people, everyone around me was pretty much white. I honestly can only recall one black student, without thinking too deeply or consulting my yearbook, because he dated a girl in my social circle. The most colorful part of my day was in my locker hallway: I was sandwiched between the fun-loving, kind group of Albanians and a group of harmless, white boy potheads, and, only to be discovered years later, across the hall from two lesbians. Oh, and I had a friend who was Jewish, how very exotic.
Some people may criticize and say I’m not the right kind of person to write about race because I’m white; I don’t even really know many black or brown people. But I think I’m exactly the type of person who should be talking about this, and hopefully other people who look like me will listen, and people who don’t look like me will weigh in.
I love my town and had a great education there, but it wouldn’t be until I went to college that I realized the white extent of the sheltered bubble I lived in.