Discover the Reason I Refused to Check the ‘Black’ Box with Claudine Gay


I have known people like Claudine Gay my entire life, and they are the reason why I never checked the black box on college and employment applications. This decision has shaped who I am today, as it has allowed me to remain a free individual grounded in the principles of equality, love, and a greater humanity beyond racial orders of any kind.

In this blog article, I will share my personal experiences growing up in a family that defied racial segregation and my encounters with the pressure to conform to a single race on school applications and in personal encounters. Furthermore, I will delve into the institutional pressure I faced to check the “black” box on college applications and the societal implications of succumbing to identity politics.

The Interracial Legacy of My Family

As a child, I was captivated by the story of my paternal grandparents’ interracial marriage in 1944 in segregated Chicago. The challenges they faced as a mixed-race couple during a time of deep racial divide in America became a foundational part of my understanding of love, equality, and the fight against racial orders. My parents’ own interracial marriage in 1967 further shaped my beliefs and birthright to defend freedom and a greater humanity beyond racial norms.

The Pressure to Conform

When I reached my teenage years, I encountered immense pressure to conform to a single race on school applications and in personal encounters. This pressure forced me to grapple with my identity and the realization that my choices and responsibilities were being co-opted by someone else’s political power game. The struggle to maintain my individuality in the face of societal pressures was a defining moment in my life.

The Encounter with Claudine Gay

It was not until I applied to college in the early 1990s that I came face-to-face with people like Claudine Gay and the realities of identity politics. Despite having borderline acceptable grades and SAT scores for top-tier colleges, my high-school counselor and university officials urged me to check the “black” box on applications to boost my chances of admission. The superficial offers of scholarships and advantages based on a racial checkbox presented a moral dilemma that I refused to succumb to.

The Pitfalls of Checking the “Black” Box

The decision to resist checking the “black” box revealed the empty promises and insidious effects of prioritizing racial identity over merit. The percentage of lower-economic background blacks on college campuses had dwindled, replaced by middle- to upper-class blacks, Africans, Caribbeans, and multiracial individuals like myself. This veiled reality exposed the systemic inequities masked by the facade of racial redemption through higher enrollment numbers.

The Minority State of Mind

Checking the “black” box would have confined me to what I call the Minority State of Mind, a narrow identity built on the politics of race. Embracing this racialized and victimized mindset would have entailed a pervasive lens through which to view the world, one based solely on historical trauma and disparities. The loss of individuality and broader American identity was a price I was unwilling to pay.

The Struggle for Individual Freedom

My refusal to check the race box reflects my commitment to honoring the progress and resilience of my black grandfather, who lifted his family from poverty to a solid lower-middle-class life despite living under segregation. His inspiring journey serves as a testament to the power of personal agency and overcoming societal barriers, reinforcing my belief in the importance of individual freedom over racial allegiance.


In closing, my personal journey has been shaped by the courageous decisions of my family and the resolve to uphold the principles of freedom, equality, and a greater humanity. Despite facing pressure to conform to a single race and the illusion of racial advantages, I remained steadfast in my refusal to check the “black” box. This choice has allowed me to preserve my individuality, rejecting the trappings of the Minority State of Mind and committing to a broader American identity beyond racial orders. The refusal to check the race box is not just a refusal to succumb to identity politics; it is a declaration of freedom and a rejection of the constraints of racial essentialism.


Micheal Kurt

I earned a bachelor's degree in exercise and sport science from Oregon State University. He is an avid sports lover who enjoys tennis, football, and a variety of other activities. He is from Tucson, Arizona, and is a huge Cardinals supporter.

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