Poets & Writers

To Writers Struggling With Their Whiteness

To Writers Struggling With Their Whiteness, I grew up in the suburbs of Pittsburgh in a white family who taught me to identify as white; only at age twenty-seven did I learn that I had a Black biological father.

As a mixed-race Black woman who had internalized racism and white privilege, I have undertaken the difficult journey of integrating an African American identity that previously felt “other” but at the same time spoke truth to experiences I had always known but failed to recognize as race-related. I have felt shame and guilt for having bought into my family’s lie, for passing as white, and for distancing myself from the few African Americans in my community.

In middle school two of my Black classmates approached me and asked if I wanted to be in their group. Though they didn’t say “group of Black students,” I instinctively knew what they meant, and I said no. Their recognition of our shared identity made me uncomfortable because I had been taught

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