But looking back it’s evident that, although issues of race never seemed to be there, they always were. We saw black people, of course, but they remained “the other.” And, even when we got to know a few blacks as friends, they somehow became “white.” We never thought of race in broader, societal terms, or as a factor that warped the lives of people we should have considered our neighbors, and fellow human beings. With a few laudable exceptions, most whites didn’t consider race to be something we should address together, as one community rather than two, working with our black brothers and sisters. In the end, it was just a faintly humorous and very occasionally scary inconvenience that didn’t seem to bother us all that much, or all that often, and we hoped never would. We didn’t have to face up to it, so far as we knew, and therefore we didn’t.
Recent events have demonstrated what a terrible mistake that was.