“Dear friend We've come a long way, haven't we? Do you remember the first time we met? I didn…”

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Dear friend We've come a long way, haven't we? Do you remember the first time we met? I didn't know you and you didn't know me, and I think we were both a bit skeptical of one another. While you would likely assign equal responsibility for that, I believe I should take the blame. I grew up in a two-stoplight town. You moved there when we were in the fourth grade. I had no minorities in my classes, and I also was not exposed to any in my day-to-day life. You were essentially the first black person I interacted with on a regular basis. Outwardly, we were both pleasant towards one another, but there was always some trepidation initially. We had to feel each other out I think. I had some misconceived notions about how black people were when I was young. While my family was not overly outwardly racist, looking back I can see how they instilled an initial fear within me. Because being black was different from my family and their experiences, it was often looked at as being on the outside for that reason, (initially, I looked at you as an outsider and not as someone similar to me. Over time, my misconceived notions dissipated. I began interacting with you as a fellow classmate and not as a black child. While it is important to recognize and honor your heritage and skin color, it is just as important for me to see you as a person in addition to being black. I'm glad that over time we were able to form a relationship as friends and really get to know one another. Today, we're good friends who talk often. Had I not gotten to know you and worked on overcoming my initial anxieties I would have missed friendship with a good man. You're a leader within our community and praiseworthy on many different fronts. I'm proud to be your friend and glad you consider me a friend too. Sincerely, Your Friend

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