Boro Park, Brooklyn, New York circa the late 70s where I grew up was a mix of multiculturalism- if you count Irish, Italian and Jewish as diversity. When my dark, Sephardic looking Israeli mom went apartment shopping with her very blonde and blue-eyed, soon to be mother-in-law, she was asked to wait outside. Repeatedly. The “cleaner” was not welcome for a tour. 

About a year later, as she strolled me down 13th Avenue- my blue eyes just like my Daddy’s- she was asked if she was the nanny? or the cleaner? By this point she understood that ‘cleaner’ didn’t mean the same thing as ‘cleaning lady’. She did NOT look Eastern European. 

Hearing my mom tell me these stories as a teenager myself, and seeing her face flush with renewed shame and embarrassment of being dismissed because of her appearance, made me empathize for that 18/19/20 year old immigrant kid. 

Knowing that my grandparents were survivors of a nearly successful, systematic genocide because of THEIR race made me understand that I had to have my finger on the pulse of progress- by asking myself AND others, when did you first notice you were different from other people? OR Did you notice other people were different first? And that is what we are going to tackle today...

My guest is Dr. Kimberly Allen, CEO of 904ward, an organization committed to creating a community of inclusion for all of Jacksonville, FL’s residents. They take pride in mobilizing thousands of volunteers every year to create racial healing and equity through conversation, connection and a commitment to caring. 

Find out more at and download the RACE CARDS app. 

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