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Racial reconciliation requires more than public friendliness

I was touched but also troubled by Lisa Akchin's recent commentary on racial reconciliation ("Moving from fear to friendliness," July 25).

She comments on her own reflexive fear in the past of acknowledging black men on the street, and from her own experience touches on ways to improve race relations in these troubled times.

She writes also of the great need for social bridge building and details our loss, because of the myriad ways to avoid honestly confronting racial issues, of the capacity for public friendliness in our daily lives.

I do not disagree with any of her suggestions. But, as a white woman who has lived and worked in Baltimore since 1969, I would strongly assert that now is the time for a much greater internationality than the practice of public friendliness.

I have experienced the ease with which white "networking" thrives in the reality of the separateness of black, Hispanic and white communities in our city, both residentially and in the world of work. Access to professional and vocational networks, to financial resources, to service on corporate and non-profit boards strike me as vital.

I believe that sustained and daily commitment to open up access to opportunity is what will bring our communities together and enrich us all.

Jane Harrison

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