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Mark Filzen

My Story:

I am one of five Black children adopted by white parents in the Midwest. While they did their best to shelter us from racism, they couldn’t do it. And frankly I’m glad about it.

We were called nigger more times than I can count. But the stares by others in the stores or other public places was traumatic. We were clearly not white, but also not black enough to be Black. And the light complexion didn’t help.

Classmates saying “you’re the good kind of black person, not a nigger" was commonplace.

It was a difficult road to navigate, especially after high school and on to the military. Black guys from the south especially would call me an Oreo, or white boy, or worse. It was really hard to understand my identity being sheltered for so long. And then thrown to the wolves when I left the home.

This led to addictions on several fronts. While I have overcome them, it hasn’t been easy.

-Mark Filzen


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