“Who is it? Let’s go see!”

My dog Panchita’s journey in the Appalachian north country from fear of the stranger to excitement about getting to know a new person has paralleled my own journey.

I have learned that if – when my dog barks at a stranger arriving on the scene – I say “Who is it? Let’s go see!“, she immediately shifts from alarm to excitement. “Wow! Another adventure!”

I have gone from fear and suspicion of Appalachian people to excitement about meeting each new one of them.

White people in America have, many of us, gone from mostly ignoring the plight of black people to genuine curiosity about who these people really are.

I will explore – mostly through our own personal stories of “running the back roads of Appalachia during the pandemic” – how we can maximize this positive response to differences in other people.