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In this article, we draw from the notion of stranger-making to focus on how undergraduates of color at one large university in New York City recount their subjective experiences with inclusion and exclusion at the borderlands of educational spaces. We use narratives to evoke the unfolding of life events and to destabilize categories of difference that are all too often based on a politics of perception rather than an ethical gesture to know. This paper presents four selected vignettes that demonstrate the instability of being a racialized human and draws attention to how belong- ing, or socially felt memberships, is simultaneously constructed and contested in schools, and how these experiences provoke turning points in an otherwise assumed linearity from childhood to the university.


This article was originally published in Race Ethnicity and Education, available at



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