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César Vargas: How I Became Black

Growing up Dominican in New York City, writer and activist César Vargas had a tough awakening to racial identity.

During my first day of school in the United States I was told by a fellow classmate to watch out for the morenos. I was taken aback by the warning and in my bewilderment asked how to tell them apart. As a teenager trying to find his place in a new country, race was a difficult concept. I couldn't tell people apart based on it. This gave me a disadvantage navigating 90s pre-gentrified Bed-Stuy. My high school, I.S. 33, was an all Black school with the exception of a few American-born Latinos—mostly Nuyoricans—and the bilingual class that I was placed in.

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