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I have been pushed forward by affirmative action, riding a wave of goodwill into programs for minority journalists.

I work at a major newspaper because it hired me, in part, for the perspective I might bring.

South Asians often find themselves ignored in discussions about race, forever stuck between black and white, Suri says by phone from New York: “We are an invisible player among the races in America, raceless characters.” And so, he says, “There’s an impulse for me and for other South Asians to adopt the culture of African Americans.” Suri is a rapper, best known for his former rap group Das Racist and now Swet Shop Boys (with “The Night Of” actor Riz Ahmed).

When the duo stormed the intimate underground quarters of U Street Music Hall in Washington recently, the audience was a cross-section of the city: black, white and shades in between.

I’ve spent the bulk of my grown-up years here, never feeling squeezed to be whiter or blacker.

He doesn’t ask me which groups I feel comfortable among; he doesn’t need to. ” The first time I recall being asked, I was encircled by kids at my suburban Maryland elementary school, where most students fell neatly into the categories of black or white.As I walked past them in a restaurant, a couple, on what must have been a first or second date, flagged me down from their table. It depends on which city I’m in, what I am wearing and, more often than not, who is doing the asking.From their broad, eager smiles, I already knew what they wanted. “He thinks you’re from South America,” she said, gesturing to her date. I am a dulce de leche-colored woman, browner still in the summer. My hair winds into curls at the hint of rain clouds. “Like the president’s,” someone noted once, trying somehow to square Barack Obama’s multiculti look with my own. Now here was this couple, both white, asking the question I increasingly stumble over. Just another dark-featured, dark-haired woman in a vast sea of immigrants’ kids, I want to tell them. Because the more brown America gets, the more mutable ethnicity — mine, others — is becoming.“All of these other groups have faced their own ‘isms,’ their own discrimination, on different levels,” Joanne Hyppolite, a curator at the African American History and Culture Museum in Washington, says of the relationship between immigrants and African Americans. I’m bold here in Washington, where I moved more than a decade ago and quickly pronounced myself home.Black immigrants in particular were at the forefront of the civil rights movement, she notes. The District was once “Chocolate City” — 70 percent African American at its peak in 1970 — and though the percentage of black residents is slipping precipitously, it is still a place I have been the most comfortable in my dark skin.

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