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

Mixed Identity

In LEVEL. More on Medium.

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

Photo: Carlos Javier Noguera/EyeEm/Getty Images

“Michael, you’re Black.”

This statement of sheer fact made me turn away in frustration and embarrassment. For 10 minutes, a Black girl in my class and I had engaged in a conversation about my ethnicity — a topic I eagerly wanted to avoid. I managed to make it more than three years in my New York City public high school without talking about my ethnicity in any serious way. And unlike many Black and Brown children across the country, I hadn’t been confronted about my race before.

In that high school office room, where I had lunch with a small…

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