Ramesh A. Nagarajah

I am regularly the only black kid in the photo. I have mastered the well-timed black joke, fit to induce a guilty "you thought it but couldn't say it" laugh from my white peers. I know all the words to "Mr. Brightside" by the Killers.

I am a token black friend. The black one in the group of white people. This title is not at all a comment on the depth of my relationships; I certainly am blessed to have the friends that I do. But by all definitions of the term, I am in many ways its poster child. And given the many conversations occurring right now around systemic racism, it would feel wrong not to use my position as a respected friend within a multitude of different white communities to contribute to the current dialogue. I believe my story speaks directly to the covert nature of the new breed of racism — its structural side, along with implicit bias — and may prove helpful to many I know who seek a better understanding.

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