12 Nuances

My hope for 2022 is that nuance in public discourse makes a comeback.

Jenara Nerenberg
2 min readDec 14, 2021

My father was raised Jewish and my mother was raised Baptist.

I was raised Baha’i.

I grew up mostly around Black and Asian families in the heart of San Francisco and was the minority in school as a racialized white kid.

At 12 years old a boy who had a crush on me painted swastikas all over the girls bathroom to get my attention, for which he got suspended. He was a freckly red-headed kid from a troubled family. He apologized. And later ended up in a halfway house. I often called to see how he was doing.

At that same age and school, I was told I’d go to hell because I wasn’t Christian. She was a closet lesbian, raised in a strict Chinese-American church. We, too, remained friends and she often reached out to me in college.

I regularly had philosophical conversations with homeless passengers on San Francisco’s MUNI trains as I spent 45 minutes to and from my large public school every day.

I also spent part of my youth raised in the Haight Ashbury.

I left my public arts high school at 16 and started community college.

My husband of 15 years is from Kathmandu. We met at UC Berkeley but later lived in Nepal for 6 years.

In grad school an entire auditorium laughed while learning that a classmate’s passport was stamped “yellow.” That was hard for me to hear, coming from my background in San Francisco, and made me cry.

I don’t know if I’m supposed to check off “white” on all those stupid forms. #BlackAF tells me I should. Proud Boys perhaps tell me I shouldn’t.

I miss nuance.

This is part two of a three-part series. Read the first part here and the third part here.



Jenara Nerenberg

Author, Divergent Mind (HarperCollins). Journalist at UC Berkeley & Garrison. Founder, The Neurodiversity Project. divergentlit.com