Reaching out pays

I was waiting for the train today in Philadelphia, and I struck up a conversation with a 50-ish black man sitting next to me. His arm was in a brace, and I asked, “what happened to your arm?” Throughout the conversation, we talked about sewing machines (he worked as a fashion designer for a long time) and the importance of reading (he just came out with a children’s book which uses hip hop to attract kids to reading), and nutrition (I was giving him a brief summary of what I’m reading in Michael Pollan’s Omnivore’s Dilemma). It was a lovely conversation.

As a progressive white person from a relatively homogeneous community, it’s uncomfortable for me to realize that I don’t think much about race or talk much to people of ethnicities different from mine. This conversation made me feel really good, but also evoked those uncomfortable feelings. What’s your perspective on such things?

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