“Besides nearly killing me, college taught me several things. Namely, that external identity mattered. Being black mattered. It determined where to get off the Boston subway without receiving a baseball bat to the head. Being the biracial child of a single, white mother determined which whites would beg me, breezily to integrate certain spaces and which black would turn their back, stage-whispering about ‘messed-up Oreos.’ Being female determined the number of times I would cross my professors’ minds, and the number of men who would grope me, curious for integration of a sort. Being from the rural Northwest encouraged peers to smile at my accent and unfamiliarity with the New York Times. Being on financial aid meant I spent my vacations huddled in dormitory rooms with the heat turned off, my afternoons serving Faculty Club highballs to pinstripe-suited recruiters who placed their tips wearily in my hand with a whispered confession: ‘You’re probably better off where you are.’ Yes, the outside mattered, and it all mattered more than what I believed did.”
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