Born: Anchorage, AK
Raised: Anchorage, AK
Current: Brooklyn, NY
Cenisa attended a diverse high school in the northern hemisphere, the “freezing pot” of Anchorage, Alaska where she was exposed to many identities including Polynesian, Vietnamese, West African, Filipino, etc. Her mother is Korean and Eskimo and her father African American. Cenisa primarily grew up with her Korean and Native family, therefore, she felt under-exposed to black culture.Cenisa felt fortunate that she attended a diverse school but still found herself struggling with embracing an identity due to being multi-racial. After graduating from high school, Cenisa specifically chose Spelman College—a historical black and women’s college. There, not only did she learn what it meant to be black, but also what it meant to be a black woman.
Cenisa Gavin is currently a 3rd grade teacher in the undeserved area of District 23 in Brooklyn, NY. As she writes and tells her story of figuring out which ethnicity she identifies the most with, now, Cenisa is navigating new territories with her identity being perceived as “Chinese” by her predominantly Black and Latino students. Growing up in Anchorage, Alaska, Cenisa struggled with only being seen by Asians as black and by Blacks as Asian. Cenisa believes that this is the fault of our academic system, which lacks resources in providing the space and structures for these type of cultural fluency. This school year, Cenisa wants to dedicate discussions to figuring out identities and exposing her students to different people from all over the world. She believes it is important to hear more than one story because all stories are multi-sided.