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The McBride children were nearly always the token blacks in their classes, and as James grew older he became increasingly confused about his own racial identity. Once, he even remembers asking if he was black or white, to which Ruth responded: "You're a human being...Educate yourself or you'll be a nobody...If you're a nobody... it doesn't matter what color you are." Ruth made sure that her children attended every free event New York City had to offer: "festivals, zoos, parades, block parties, libraries, concerts." In retrospect, James realizes that they never felt deprived or poor. In the house, the question of race was "ignorable".