Here we go, talking about race again. It seems we're having this conversation more and more in our media -- a long playing-out of the issue that persists in commanding our attention, even when we're trying to ignore it.
For the last 200 years or so the American narrative has been about political self-determination, the Declaration of Independence, the Monroe Doctrine. But a century into that history, the issue of race inserted itself into the national debate. Race, in the form of slavery-era politics, wasn't the only cause of the Civil War, but it decidedly was one of the main factors.
The Civil War did settle the issue, in principle rather than in practice. Race remained a constant question, though society in general managed to ignore it for long periods of time. And though the armed forces were integrated in the 1940s, civil and voting rights acts were passed in the 1960s, and we elected a black (well, mixed-race) president in the first decade of this century, the issue of race lingers. It may turn out, a thousand years from now, that the singular success of American democracy was to achieve a raceless society, if such a thing ever comes about.
Our cover story this week, "The White Perspective," by Rosemary Zurlo-Cuva, talks about one person's effort to bridge the racial divide. Her subject is Marian Fredal, a woman who has been thinking about the racial situation for a long time and has found a professional way to influence the topic. I'll let the article inform you how she goes about that process.
Racial differences can incite curiosity. When I taught school in Liberia, West Africa, during a long-ago Peace Corps stint, young students were always fascinated with my hairy arms. Theirs, and those of all the African people they knew, were smooth. They liked to run their hands along my arm and feel the fine hairs. It didn't upset me. They were just kids -- learning.