Becoming my own hero

Off the Beat

All of us are growing and learning every day — tomorrow, I’ll be a slightly wiser version of myself today. So I try to acknowledge the growth I’ve made, because I am the hero 12-year-old me hoped to grow up to be.
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Not a 2nd-class traveler

Off the Beat

Everywhere I travel, my family has had to both reassert our identity and tolerate the casual racism from enough of the locals for it to become a discernible issue. I am fed up with a binary system that refuses to accept that I am just as American as any white individual born and raised in the United States of America.
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Taking off my rose-tinted glasses

Off the Beat

Before I knew that I would be going to school at UC Berkeley, the campus lived in my mind as a kind of promised land. My perception of the school was formed by black-and-white photos of students and community members protesting for what they believed in. I expected social awareness
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Light the lights

Sex on Tuesday

Whatever your reasoning may be, if you’ve never had sex with the lights on, you really ought to give it a try. I’m sure for many of you this isn’t uncharted terrain — some of you probably even do it on a regular basis.
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Only half

Cal in Color

When I was seven years old, my white uncle called me a worthless n-word in the middle of an argument. As I sobbed uncontrollably at my grandmother’s feet, I realized that racism can trump family. Being half- Black and half-white, I fall in between two identities. I realized then that
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On becoming my mother

Off the Beat

In high school, I was unremarkable in all the usual ways: insecure, stressed and embarrassed. I was embarrassed of everything about myself — my style, my thoughts, my lack of athletic abilities and, of course, my mother. I grew up in Massachusetts, amidst a sea of fast-walking students fast-tracked for
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Not at your service

Off the Beat

I can’t remember the exact day I was first told to smile when I worked as a customer service representative in a pizzeria, but it quickly became routine. Throughout my job, I continued to deal with male customers who were disturbed by my naturally stoic resting face. They confused my natural facial expression with the idea that I am angry or upset.
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Be kindr to Grindr

Off the Beat

I realize now how essential access to LGBTQ+-centered spaces — online or in person — is to queer and questioning youth. Online communities provide us with the education, support and affirmation the rest of the world does not offer us.
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A picture-imperfect holiday

Off the Beat

My holiday season always begins the same way — I sit impatiently in an almost-empty BART train car hurtling itself away from the chaotic streets of Downtown Berkeley to the sleepy suburbs of the South Bay. Phone in hand, I scroll absentmindedly through my Instagram feed, sifting through perfectly filtered
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A tale of two Christmases

Off the Beat

I’m dreaming of a (non)white Christmas — two of them, actually. Being Coptic Christian means that my official Christmas falls on Jan. 7. But my family has adopted a tradition of having a small Dec. 25 Christmas, too, a way of making a Western holiday our own. Our wooden dining
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