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“You only got in because you’re black.”

I worked hard in high school. I took advanced placement classes and performed well academically. But when my good friend and I applied for the same college and only I got in, she didn’t mention any of that. Instead, she said what I started to hear from a lot of people.

“It’s just because you’re black.”

Growing up I never thought of myself as different from my adoptive white family. Our parents taught us that hard work was more important than ability, and I lived that.

So when some people started seeing my skin color instead of my hard work and intelligence, it hurt. After three years at college, I still sometimes hear that I’m here just because of affirmative action on college applications.

Unfortunately making assumptions based on skin color instead of who someone really is isn’t a problem limited to school. I’ve heard people ask my husband, who is white, what it’s like to be married to a black woman. At church, I have to remind myself that people are just being nice and trying to help when they ask if I’m a recent convert. I have grown up in the Church, served a mission, and been married in the temple, but the assumption that I must be new to the Church because I’m black reinforces that some people see my race rather than seeing me for who I am.

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