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       During my meeting with you, there was a brief moment when I saw myself through the eyes of an expectant and disappointed Black community.  I was excited that I would get to lead a class discussion on Asian-American identity issues, but then called myself back when I considered how such a discussion would “look weird” because of the absence of Black-centered topics.  How would the students in my class, Black or otherwise, look upon me at the head of the class as I speak so passionately about my involvement in the formation of Asian-American cultural identity?  Would they instead focus on the overpowering silence of my “Black voice,” and judge me as ignoring, denying, or turning my back on “my own race?”  I have never directly heard the response, “it should be alright, it shouldn’t matter,” concerning that question, except from you.  Perhaps others in my life, my mother or Aunt Margaret, some of my friends, or Professor Alfano who helped me complete my Soompi research project, felt the same way, but they never told me so.  I never asked, and I never voiced my concerns about not appearing Black enough for my audience as if it were a question of academic credibility, until now.

            Your response to my admission of fear and uncertainty reassured me that I did have the right to be passionate about a culture that I was not born into, that I have no real obligation to study or participate in only the Black culture if it is not my full and personal desire to do so.  Over the weekend, I had a serious discussion with my best friend about the kind of person I hope to become, and who I am today.  Having such a talk brought out waves of repressed feelings of helplessness and insecurity that I thought I had “taken care of” or washed away since my days of being called an “oreo” in school or getting dirty looks and glares for dating boys that don’t look like I do.  But everything came rushing back to my mind, and in an instant I felt powerless to move forward and grow into the confident, worldly, and multicultural woman I was meant to be.  Harry, my best friend, recognized this, and told me that this would be the moment I always remember as the day I opened my mind and my heart, and started to grow.  He explained to me that if only I had told him about the inner struggles I was having with my cultural identity, he could have introduced me to people very close to him that would be able to help me find the answers I’m looking for.  He’s right: I kept that secret from everyone because I did not know who else could possibly understand or help, or just validate my own thoughts.  Thank you for being there at the right time, Professor, and for listening to everything I had to say even if it was jumbled and did not make perfect sense.

            Last night, I went to see Donna Brazile, prominent Black political strategist and commentator on CNN speak at Kresge Auditorium.  The room was filled with the spirit of the Black Community, as this was an event to honor the 100th anniversary of the NAACP.  While I was standing outside the auditorium reading a book, I overheard a few women talking about whether they need to purchase tickets, and I smiled and answered that the tickets were being sold for ten dollars at the door; I then returned to reading my book.  One of the women, her smile glowing with anticipation, eagerly asked me if I was “part of the local chapter (of the NAACP).”  I replied that I was not, and began to explain how I heard about the Donna Brazile event and chose to attend.  But she was not interested in hearing my “alternative” explanation; her smile slowly disappeared when she heard that I was not involved in the largest and oldest Civil Rights Organization in the country, and she was disappointed.  I still wonder if I am disappointed in myself, and what choices I have to make if I am.

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