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JOHANSSEN WAS THE WHITEST PARK in the whitest neighborhood in the whitest town where Caitlin was living her whitest life, a shiny bubble of curated playground equipment and soft rubber chips in case of unexpected falls. No urgency from the outside world would ever drown out the giggles of toddlers clinging to swings, or the shouts from older children jostling skinned elbows on the basketball court. Caitlin hadn’t planned to live in a mostly white neighborhood— especially in Southern California, of all places—but here she was. In her mostly Cuban American high school in Miami, she’d been the minority and rolled with it by getting an A in AP Spanish. In grad school, she’d come close to marrying Debashish, but she’d steered clear of the family drama (in fairness, mostly from his father in Kolkata) and married Tad from IT at the boutique publishing house where she edited art books.

Tad was the whitest name imaginable. When she tested Tad early on by praising Black Lives Matter, he’d said, “I understand what it’s like to stand out—I have red hair”, but she’d forgiven him and restrained herself from tweeting it out with a GIF of a head banging on a desk. God help her, maybe that drop of ginger exoticism had been one of the reasons she’d agreed to go to dinner and a Dodgers game with Tad and then ended up at the altar beside him two years later. That, and he was one of the few straight cis men she’d met in her dating life who wasn’t a transphobe and homophobe, and their shared passion for the environment and horror movies sealed it. Their daughter, Destiny, had inherited his bright red hair, and it was true Destiny got teased, mostly for the freckles spraying her nose.

But still.

Here she was, a German-Irish white woman stranded on an island of whiteness, and she had chosen this; she had chosen to live in a place that did not feel like the country where she had grown up. How hadn’t that mattered more when they bought their house? Sometimes Caitlin went days without seeing a black person (African American, she had been told by Latrice, her freshman roommate at UCLA, was a term used mostly by white people who did not have black friends). Sometimes she backed out of her driveway on Monday mornings without even noticing the silver-haired Latinx woman who had been cutting her grass for three years.

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About Boston Review

Allies is the first publication of Boston Review's newly inaugurated Arts in Society department. A radical revisioning of the magazine's poetry and fiction, the department unites them—along with cultural criticism and belles lettres—under a project that explores how the arts can speak directly to the most pressing political and civic concerns of our age, from growing inequality to racial and gender regimes, a disempowered electorate, and a collapsing natural world.