It's tricky to nail down exactly what makes someone feel like a "racial impostor." For one Code Switch follower, it's the feeling she gets from whipping out "broken but strangely colloquial Arabic" in front of other Middle Easterners.
For another — a white-passing, Native American woman — it's being treated like "just another tourist" when she shows up at powwows. And one woman described watching her white, black and Korean-American toddler bump along to the new Kendrick and wondering, "Is this allowed?"
In this week's podcast, we go deep into what we're calling Racial Impostor Syndrome — the feeling, the science and a giant festival this weekend in Los Angeles that's, in some ways, all about this.
Here's how we got started down this track. A couple months ago, listener Kristina Ogilvie wrote in to tell us that "living at the intersection of different identities and cultures" was like "stumbling around in a forest in the dark."
She asked, "Do you hear from other listeners who feel like fakes?"
Good question. So we took it to our audience, and what we heard back was a resounding "yes."
We got 127 emails from people who are stumbling through that dark, racially ambiguous forest. (And yes, we read every single one.)
Here are excerpts drawn from a few of the many letters that made us laugh, cry and argue — and that guided this week's episode.