The first time someone told me I was white, I was seven years old. Three of my friends, all of them light-skinned black kids like me, taunted me in the schoolyard after my father dropped me off.
“That’s not your real dad,” they said. “He can’t be because you’re white.”
I was devastated. But I remember my father reassuring me that they were wrong; not only was he my father, but also, I was black, even if I was lighter than the other black kids.
My parents raised me to be secure, as racially mixed and Jewish. These were non-negotiable parts of my identity.
But as I got older, I began to understand that there was a third element to my racial identity: I am white-passing. This means that I am frequently mistaken for white, even though I am not.
Passing in the black community is about more than just appearances. It is a loaded term that refers to attaining aspects of whiteness but only at the cost of one’s blackness.
Read the full op-ed in The Forward.