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Imagine opening your mailbox and getting a letter from someone you barely remember from 56 years ago, apologizing for something you’ve had to endure your whole life: racism. Eugene Britton Carter, 72, received just such a letter from a former high school basketball teammate, Tom Owens, who apologized to him about that time when the team had to leave Carter and the other two black players on the team behind.

“I was kind of shocked when I read it because I hadn’t seen or heard from Tom since 1961 and then [he] wrote me a letter apologizing to me for something I almost forgot about,” Carter said, according to WXIN.

That’s because racism is so embedded in our culture that it’s just a part of the black experience. Carter, like any other 72-year-old black man, has lived through some of this country’s worst conditions of racism. So not getting to go to a basketball game was probably shrugged off as if he were turned down for a date.

In any case, after receiving the letter, Carter immediately called Owens up to let him know that everything was A-OK. Carter even felt guilty about Owens’ white guilt. Carter said, “It bothers me a little bit he’s been carrying that weight on his shoulder for 56 years now, how he really felt about it. I never knew because when they came back from Georgia as a team, we went on as [if] nothing ever happened.”

It’s been bothering Owens? It bothers me that Carter, as a black man, is taking on Owens’ guilt.

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Owens and some of his white classmates got together at a reunion and decided to write the three black players an apology letter.

“This is something I have thought about all my life,” Owens said. “I have been thinking about the right thing to say and all, and finally about a month ago, I finally got the letter written and sent it off to him and was so pleasantly surprised when he immediately called me back to say how much he appreciated it.”

Owens must have felt so relieved as his white guilt melted off his shoulders.

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Read more at WXIN.