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My privilege

Race dominates the American mind. Even when we aren’t thinking about it, we are living every day in a steeply racialized nation. Not to think about race in America is the privilege of someone who lives and moves in the majority. I argue that, in this way, we are thinking about it even when we are not.

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The other day, I had a conversation with a customer so comforting that when I walked away, I had a spring in my step that followed me for the rest of the 14 miles I had on my route. It’s not that he soothed me or made me feel good about myself or my life. His was not the succor offered to the sick and those in pain. The feeling I had was that conversations like ours were still possible in the present state of our union.

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Vegetarian by necessity

When I walked 1,450 miles across Kansas, Nebraska, Wyoming, and Montana in 1995 and canoed the Missouri River back to Kansas City, I was left with a series of personal choices that arose from contact with the people and landscapes I had seen in my adventures. Life’s possibilities opened before me, probably due to the trip giving me new eyes with which to see the world.

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Holding hands, a meditation

The father and son stood on the corner in the afternoon sun. The father was about 30, the son eight of nine. Dressed against the slight cold, they hunched in together against a sudden gust and stood again, looking across the street for the walk signal. They exchanged a few words and then stood silently waiting for the light. They took each other’s hand. When it was their turn and traffic had come to a stop, they stepped into the street.

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