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Mixed Speak


This short piece addresses the challenges of being biracial and finding your own voice while listening to the conflicting voices of others: parents, grandparents, friends, mentors, teachers, coaches. I had two constraints while writing this: one, I had to emulate Jamaica Kincaid’s short story “Girl,” where a mother teaches her daughter how to be a respectable girl and not “the slut you are so bent on becoming”; and two, I had to develop this for a high school literature assignment while studying remotely during New York’s pandemic lockdown. I had no “in-person” communication other than with my immediate family, which made it even harder to find one’s own voice: you need the voices of others in order to distinguish yours from theirs. I wondered: what is sound--music? vibrations? noise? everyday sounds? silence? Will silence always protect you?

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