Monday, in the middle of the morning, I took the number 6 Jackson Express from my home on the south side of Chicago to the Loop (down town). Standing at my bus stop was a woman, about my age, of evident South Asian heritage. I imagine she was originally from India or possibly Pakistan. We made friendly chat, and sat together at the front of the bus, where the seats parallel the windows and face the passengers across the aisle. As our casual conversation ran its course and we returned to our own thoughts, I glanced across the way and noticed the three passengers directly opposite. One was a middle-aged, pleasantly plump African American woman; next to her, in the middle, was a man of Mexican, Central, or South American heritage, with a good dose of American native in his blood. To his right sat a man with a strongly East Asian body build and facial features.
When I was a child, in a small Midwestern university town, with one exception from grade school, I knew no one of any extraction other than Christian- Caucasian-European. By the time I was in junior high school, I had several friends who were Jewish, which though distinctly non-mainstream, was not discriminated against, and a couple of others who spoke with accents, but from European, not New World Hispanic or Asian countries. In high school I knew three or four black kids. In the late 1960s-early 1970s, college, in the same neighborhood I live in now, was only modestly more diverse. How the globe has shrunk since then. It's only chance that I even happened to notice the world representation on the bus. Most of us no longer even think about those things.
3 weeks ago