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There's a new barbecue place near my home, right in the heart of the white ghetto where I live. The cooks and the owner arrive in their do-rags and their pseudo-gang clothing and the white folks don't know what to make of them. Some are over-chatty (let me show the world I'm not prejudiced); some merely look out of the corners of their eyes, take their food and scoot. A few walk in, see the dark faces and leave.

Their business is good; the food is generous in portions and delicious in flavor. I haven't had decent fried okra in ages. Gotta try the greens and peach cobbler next.

It does my heart good to see my neighborhood FINALLY integrating. We have an oriental family (Japanese, I think) 3 houses down and a black family around the corner. And when I say black, I don't mean almost white, the kind of black acceptable to whites and nearly like us. I mean very dark-skinned, broad nosed, thick lipped black.

Both of the parents are lawyers; the children go to the school across the street from me. We wave when we pass; we've exchanged the pleasantries that neighbors do when they see each other on Saturday morning--"nice weather" "your rose bush sure is beautiful" that sort of thing.

If West Hills can accept different people gracefully, maybe there's hope for the world yet.

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