Kristin Pauker still remembers her uncle’s warning about Dartmouth. “It’s a white institution,” he said. “You’re going to feel out of place.”
Dr. Pauker, who is now a psychology professor, is of mixed ancestry, her mother of Japanese descent and her father white from an Italian-Irish background. Applying to colleges, she was keen to leave Hawaii for the East Coast, eager to see something new and different. But almost immediately after she arrived on campus in 1998, she understood what her uncle had meant.
She encountered a barrage of questions from fellow students. What was her ethnicity? Where was she from? Was she Native Hawaiian?The questions seemed innocent on the surface, but she sensed that the students were really asking what box to put her in. And that categorization would determine how they treated her. “It opened my eyes to the fact that not everyone sees race the same way,” she told me.
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