Invisible Identities: When the Person Before You is Not Exactly What they Seem

Kristal Brent Zook
5 min readJun 24, 2023

I must admit, I paused when I got a resume from Braidan, a cheerful and well-mannered graduate student in our MA Journalism Program at Hofstra University. I’d never hired a white male research assistant before. None had ever applied.

But I could see that Braidan was different. He was an amiable, tattooed dude from my home state of California; a self-described member of the “surfer-slash-football” crowd at Santa Cruz High School. I knew something about the eclectic vibe of Santa Cruz, having received my Ph.D. from the University of California there. I could easily picture Braidan’s high school, which he said was so diverse that even the Norteños gang members were a mix of Caucasians, African Americans, Latinos, and Polynesians.

He nodded enthusiastically as I told him about the reporting I was doing on multiracial millennials, and what would be expected from him as a graduate researcher.

“That’s so interesting, he said, smiling.

Then he hit me with this.

“Because…I mean, I guess you could say I’m mixed-race too.”

I stared at him more closely.

“My father is half Japanese.”

Of course. The instant the words came out of his mouth I saw it.

As we chatted, he pushed back his shirt sleeve to reveal a tattoo across his biceps. He’d gotten it at 17, he said, just before leaving the West…



Kristal Brent Zook

Award-winning journalist/professor; race, women, justice. My latest book is #1 in New Releases for Mixed Race/Multiracial! Order @