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.
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It was a chilly April night; I had a horrible day at work and called off our date since my job was running late, but his sweet charm and the promise of a delicious meal won me over. (There’s really not much some fresh, crusty bread and soft, salted butter can’t do to win me over.) After a great date with my best guy, we walked around our local college campus, a walk we took hundreds of times during our college years together.
We passed the dorm where he yelled, “I LOVE LINDSAY ROSASCO” at the top of his lungs in the middle of the night, with people replying, “SHUT UP!” or a celebratory “WOO” from the windows. We passed the music building where students were practicing, even late at night, the jazzy tunes floating their way through the air. We walked by the computer building where I surprised him years ago after class with a huge comforter and dessert for an impromptu nighttime picnic on the quad.
We walked around the mall where I watched him play kickball as I debated the actual importance of making it to my visual communications art class. We ended in front of our old dorm, the place I made my first friend as an unnerved transfer student who quickly became my best – where we stayed up until 5 a.m. talking, laughing, and learning. The place we acted out the cliché of young and wild and free and where a tipsy first meet turned into deep love.