Lani Guinier: The 'Two Races' Dilemma

The legal scholar says her self-identification process was not about the one-drop rule; it was about the existence of a community in which she felt accepted.

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Legal scholar Lani Guinier

In a New York Times op-ed, the Bennett Boskey Professor of Law at Harvard Law School takes on opponents of the Education Department's new mixed-race categories who see them as discriminatory ...

Excerpt:

Until I went to junior high school I was interracial. I would say, if asked, "My mother is white and my father is Negro." Or "I come from a 'mixed' family."

When my family moved to Hollis, Queens, in 1956, the neighborhood changed with our arrival. When we first moved in, Italians, Jews, Albanians, Armenians and Portuguese lived in small, tidy two-family attached houses on both sides of the street. By 1964 there were almost no whites still living on our block except my mother. As the demographics changed, so did our zip code. We were now in St. Albans, part of the burgeoning black migration from Harlem and Bedford-Stuyvesant to southeast Queens.

In junior high school I became black. I attended Junior High School 59, a magnet school that attracted Jewish students from Laurelton and Italian kids from Cambria Heights. The white students were friendly during the school day, but it was in riding the bus home with the other black students that I felt most welcome. We rode the bus together to an increasingly segregated St. Albans neighborhood. And it was in St. Albans that I felt fully accepted.

When I applied to college I don't recall any box-checking exercises involving race.

Read more at the New York Times.