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LEVEL
Higher Learning. A publication from Medium for the interested man.

Identity

In LEVEL. More on Medium.

Singer Raiche shares her experience defining herself and what truly matters most

Photo courtesy of Atlantic Records

As I’ve matured, traveled the world, and learned about racism, I’ve had the opportunity to find comfort in my identity as a mixed-race person. But it hasn’t always been easy figuring out my place in a world defined by so much hate.


Halloween may be a night for tricks, treats, and ghouls for most kids, but it meant an entirely different kind of celebration for those growing up in the Black church…


Acknowledging my history helped me lower my family’s smoke screens

Photo: Carlos Javier Noguera/EyeEm/Getty Images

“Michael, you’re Black.”


I thought my mother was the only barrier keeping me from reconciling my identity — but I missed something bigger

Photo courtesy of author

When I was 10 or 11, I went to my mom, forehead creased with confusion, and asked: “Mom, am I White?”


We know you do — and you know it, too

Photo: Jonathan Knowles/Getty Images

When I was a kid, my White classmates always compared me to a cookie. I remember one specifically said, “You’re like an Oreo: Black on the outside but White on the inside. You’re cool.” In their young minds, this was a compliment. They didn’t realize how offensive that statement was — and back then, neither did I.


For immigrants, encouragement to pursue the arts is slim. Here’s why it’s important.

Photo: Prasert Krainukul/EyeEm/Getty Images

When I was younger, I heard that singing was haram, which means “forbidden” in Arabic — and in Islam is the term for sinful behavior. I never really understood this concept, especially since the Quran sounds like a melody when it’s recited. Some of my earliest memories are of my Palestinian father and me “singing” along to the Quran.


I asked my friends and followers what they thought of the word — but had no idea how much dissent there would be

Photo: Mike Kemp/Getty Images

I’d been curious about it for some time. So one slow Friday afternoon, I posted the same question to Twitter and Facebook: “What do you think of the term ‘Latinx?’”


From one Black Greek member to another: y’all are getting way too bothered

Photo: Johnny Louis/Getty Images

When I was 15, my high school counselor told me I needed community service to get into a good college. A few weeks later, a friend of mine asked me about joining the Jackson, Mississippi chapter of the Sigma Beta Club to get some community service hours. I didn’t know much about what those words meant, but I needed those service hours.


Our native language was disappearing from my family, but circumstance—and luck—brought it back

My dad, Juan Pablo, and me attending a San Antonio Spurs game together. Photos courtesy of the author.

When my father turned six, Mercedes, Texas was a small town. Now, 60 years later, it’s still a small town — Mexico border to its south, outlet mall to its north. And during an ordinary car ride, my father tells me an extraordinary story.


Something about my Blackness forces some Afro Latinos to face their own, even if they’re not ready to embrace it

A younger me during one of my last visits to the Basílica Catedral Nuestra Señora de la Altagracia, Dominican Republic

I love jumping into cabs in New York City’s Washington Heights. For the most part, I run into a driver who’s Dominican, and he’s almost always surprised I can speak Spanish. We most often have similar facial features, waves in our curly hair, and vibe to the same music on the radio. But this never matters in the end. The driver will usually follow up with, “Wait, you’re really Dominican? What barrio is your mom from?” I’ll tell him the barrio (neighborhood) in the DR and the cross streets, but he still seems vexed.

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