Alba Isabel Lamar, China. The idea of beauty has, for many years, been defined by western ideology and western media. Women of color are both fetishized and rejected but seldom has my experience been that those in power look to judge us based on the content of our character.
Tracy Hart, Washington, DC. Yes, I’m from a tobacco-pickin, Southern white trash family, and I mean that in the most endearing way. Some stereotypes my family breaks: we were Southern but poor sharecroppers rather than slave-owners. Other stereotypes my family embraces: using discriminatory language in equal measure across all those who are not white Southerners. […]
Donna Reiss, Brownstown Twp , MI. Its Christmas time in Detroit, 1961. I was 3 years old and in the bank line with my Mom. There were 3 black men in front of us in line, talking and laughing amongst themselves. I had never seen, nor let alone been exposed, to people who didn’t look […]
Vernae Williams, Sacramento, CA. I grew up in a family full of light skinned people. I always felt like an outsider because within the Black community light skin is seen as the “right skin”, and dark skin is viewed as being ugly. Growing up I never truly felt comfortable in my own skin due to […]
Eric Miyeni Johannesburg I don’t like the phrase “body part” much. At its worst it has a tendency to remind me of murders and psychotic murderers. At its best it reminds me of the work of medical doctors. Don’t get me wrong. I love doctors. I’m just not cut out to do what they do. […]
Seydi, Detroit, MI. While growing up in Senegal some refer to me as dark as the buttocks of a cauldron, iIwas proud to be as dark as the stone of the Kaaba filled with love and light, often i dreamed to be blue-black as those vailant fishermen Lebou, Niominka or Guet-Ndar tauting the Sun Ra […]
Anisha (Blair) Taylor, Riverside, CA. “Your beautiful. For a black girl.” . Those words spilled out the mouth of a young black male, in my 12th grade math class. Only then was reminded. That being a Dark skin Black Women, We are not considered to be as beautiful as other women. I was in second […]
Michelle Martini, USA. When it came time to choose my daughter’s first baby doll, there were only dark-skinned dolls left in the specific brand/style I wanted. Thinking it didn’t matter, I bought it. She has since chosen her own doll — also dark skinned. I’ve gotten a few comments. Most people seem to think we’re […]
Marilou Ingles, Romulus, MI. I am American Indian, I grew up in poverty, and I am from the South. I often joke that I received a scholarship to U of M because of my heritage. I do not believe that I would have been admitted based on academia, talent, experience, or personality; I am here […]
Alexis, Minooka, IL. I hate when not just other races say this about black girls, but African Americans alone say this to individuals. I think it’s a insult honestly because what are black girls supposed to look like? Not pretty? Others may see it as a compliment but in reality it’s not. Beauty comes in […]
Gwen Powell, Chula Vista, CA.
Alexandria James-Hayes, Rancho Cucamonga, CA. I have lived in the suburbs my whole life and I grew up around mostly white people. My parents are divorced, my father lives in Alabama and I live with my mother and stepfather. When I use to visit Alabama my fathers family would always say “you talk like a […]
Anonymous, Northampton, MA. He’s a white European, and has never considered black women to be attractive, apparently until he met me and we got to know each other. Since he is curious about interracial relationships, he’s often on youtube watching videos on black and white couples/babies/marriages. Yesterday, he proudly told me that he watched an […]
Gloria Collins, Shreveport, LA. Every ethnic group has beauty. No race has more beauty over other races.
Secunda Joseph, Houston, TX. I’ve always seen the beauty in myself even as a kid. My brother and I were the darkest of all aunts, and cousins besides my brother, and around family ” I was everything good” one of my several nicknames was chocolate drop. Then kindergarten started what I heard was “with your […]
Courtney, Moore, OK. I am told this quite offten and it makes my heart ache, not because I let it bother me personally, beause I don’t. But for the other black women and young ladies that are told the same thing and don’t have the courage to say that I am a beautiful black women, […]
Tess, Melbourne, FL. Recently I have had to face the fact that my very dark skin is indeed the first thing most people notice about me. The fact that I’m short/tall, healthy/not healthy, sad/happy, age and what not seem to follow way after my dark skin has introduced me to the world. I love to […]
Egypt Bracey, Philadelphia, PA.
Dr. J., Irving, TX. It’s true, everyone tries to find similarities between babies and their parents. But the search ends when people see my son’s curly golden hair, blue eyes, and light complexion. Someone once asked me, “are you sure you want to name him Diego?” (when he was 9 months old). I’ll admit it, […]
Jolie Anne Chevalier, San Jose, CA. This is me at eight years old back in 1979, the daughter of an African-American/Seminole Indian mother, and a Irish-French-American father. Growing up, I was faced with contradictions in a world of opposites; although I was multiracial my mother told me I was Black, and to identify as such […]
CaMera Gibson, Birmingham & Jacksonville, AL.
Imani B., Baltimore, MD. So are all dark skin girls ugly and I’m the exception? Woukd i be ugly if i was lighter? Your insulting me. Please don’t.
Julie Newell, Lubbock, TX.
Robyn Henderson-Espinoza, Denver, CO. Being light skinned and Mexican has been the hardest thing to navigate in life. A dark skinned mother and an Anglo father gave birth to a light skin mestiza.
Deja, Moreno Valley, CA. This statement literally kills me . “Pretty for a black girl” I didn’t know “pretty” depended on your skill color . Goes to show how some look at “black girls” like their not good enough to be pretty.
Hadja Diallo, Philadelphia, PA. People always say that I don’t look African!? But I ask myself how is someone supposed to look African? Are we all supposed to be ugly? I wouldn’t say that all Africans are beautiful, but most of them are. I know that it’s not there (people) fault that they think Africans […]
Margaret Metobo, Chicago, IL. I feel that anywhere I go people look at my race first before I’m human and that’s the way I carry myself out of security.
Malika Los Angeles, CA Our daughter began to draw what she saw in the world very early. She wakes up from vivid dreams, grabs a sheet of paper and illustrates the thunder and lightning, fairies and wizards, monsters and princesses from her nighttime imagination. Having grown up in America as a woman of African ancestry, […]
Kristen Stephens Adelphi, MD My skin is special, not because I am light but because it is mine. Love the skin you are in!
Poppy Davis Chicago, IL Sometimes, even though affirmative action has done great things for minority races, I feel as a person of Asian descent, that it’s nothing more than a policy put into place by white leaders who think they know what’s best for minorities. Am I wrong or do my feelings have validity?
John Littleton Deerfield, IL Blacks in America today are too far removed from slavery that any and all complaints and entitlements are irrelevant. Blacks are the biggest racists in America. They’re so smart, so brilliant, so special? As even The Economist pointed out, affirmative action must be abolished. If we’re all equal, there should be […]
Leslie Carver San Diego, CA I am a professor & was profoundly affected when I heard a student talk about having been referred to as a “token Latina”. I realized that although I care a great deal about diversity on my campus, I had been guilty of thinking of students that way – as the […]
David Zetoony Alexandria, VA When race is considered in a contest — whether its use is lawful or unlawful, ethical or unethical, motivated to equalize or motivated to discriminate, implicit or explicit, intentional or unintentional — it means that you never know the degree to which you won or lost based upon your merit. If […]
Stanley Umeweni Philadelphia, PA I am Stanley Umeweni, and I am a high school student from Central High School in Philadelphia, PA. I chose these six words because after a little over 50 years after the Civil-Rights Movement, not all races have equal opportunity. Even with laws and policies, such as Affirmative Action, the color […]
Dan Angel Dufresne Union City, NJ I feel that sometimes people use race as a crutch to act a certain way, and do certain things. People claim ignorance, come up with excuses and have a lot of pressure put on them. As long as we have things like affirmative action there will always be disparities […]
Jake Skillman Greenfield, IN Even as a small child I loved diversity, insisting on going to Korean school on Saturdays with my friends, checking out language books in Romanian, Japanese, Spanish and even Swahili. It’s crazy, because I grew up on a country farm, living in a trailer. Some how that automatically made me a […]
Bobby Chicago, IL Current iterations of affirmative action programs are a relic of the narrowminded thinking of the past century. They should be reformed to award assistance based on socio-economic status, not race/gender/religion/etc. To truly help all disadvantaged people we must break from the outmoded thinking of archaic legislation.
Alexandra Walling Seaside, CA I go to a “majority-minority” college. The more I get to know my classmates, the more convinced I am that affirmative action and other programs to increase the presence of underrepresented minorities in higher education and the workforce will be to the betterment of all.
Laura Silver Spring, MD It really bothers me when people dismiss affirmative action on the grounds that it is making up for racist past. Racism lingers and affirmative action is necessary to counteract racism today.
Craig Durkee Atkinson, NH Due to affirmative action it is nearly impossible for a middle age white male to advance in corporate America.
Dr. Sylvia Hood Washington Winfield, IL So many gifted black people identified as such before affirmative action was even a notion have been denied the “equal” opportunity to achieve or advance because they were perceived as either a threat or not needy enough. This is particularly true in institutions of higher education … where the […]
Skyler Crane Oceanside, CA There is a small splash of African in my ancestry, never talked about, though obvious in physical traits of many of my relatives, Why I give my Race Card sentence is that born a baby boomer to low, very low, middle class WASP parents, i was not given or alerted to […]
Matthew Koebbe Huntington Beach, CA I am a white male who heard those words from a University of California financial aid officer after asking about all those unclaimed scholarships and grants we always hear about. At the time, I thanked the woman for her honesty, but afterwards it occurred to me that no one should […]
Sarah Morris Downingtown, PA Who knew it was difficult to not be part of the “minority”? My situation would be much different if my race were different and I would qualify for much more assistance or could at least apply for things like scholarships. But as it is, I am just a white girl who […]
Theresa Goldenberg Melbourne Beach, FL In Zora Neale Hurston essay “How it Feels to be Colored Me” she explains that she didn’t realize she was black until she moved to Jacksonville Florida and it was reflected in how people treated her. When my son started applying to colleges he quickly realized that most of the […]
Dean Lincoln, NE I never know what to put down for my ethnicity when filling out official forms. I used to put down whatever I thought would be most helpful given the situation… padding the numbers for one racial group or whatever gave the best possibilities for scholarships on a different form. I used to […]
Renee Reives Lorton, VA Sometimes I feel stuck. I’m black and educated. I feel like a unicorn based on what so many people perceive and say about black people. I am expected by black people to endure a “struggle” I was not born into. Even misinformed white people that think they are helping feel the […]
John Johnson USA This race card comes from the struggles of applying for college scholarships and being white. There are many scholarships designated for different races that I’m not allowed to apply for, yet I don’t see any scholarships designated for people of my race. I’m not at all implying that scholarships for races is […]
Nathan Whitelight USA Liberals arguing for racial preferences in our government always give a sob story about a minority who grew up in the ghetto, unlike the Whites all of whom must have been middle class. This simply isn’t an accurate picture of the typical affirmative action beneficiary, most are themselves the children of middle […]
George W. Kauffman Rochester, NY Because of the Affirmative Action Bill, ” MERIT ” is no longer part of the Hiring and Promoting Practices of an Employer.
Keith Stewart Stone Mountain, GA
Danielle Hayden Detroit, MI My freshman year of college, a boy at orientation (with whom I had only recently become acquainted told me that the only reason I had gotten into the University of Michigan was because of Affirmative Action. This wounded me deeply, and I became obsessed with proving to everyone how intelligent I […]
Martha S. Jones Ann Arbor, MI Submitted via Twitter: @marthasjonesUM
Ann Claycombe Atlanta, GA I am a middle-aged white woman working at Georgia State University, where no race is in the majority. Instead, what I see is poor students of every color – the average household income of our students is $25,000 a year. And what I’ve learned is they don’t need my pity or […]
Joslynn Poole USA There is little solidarity amongst black people. For example gang violence, red against blue, light skins vs dark skins. I could care less about another persons race or ethnicity. I just want my own people to figure out how to do better.
Toolie, Anchorage, AK. To the black community, I “act” too white to be like them. To the white community, my skin is too dark to be like them. I am black. I am not black enough. I am too black. No matter where I go, I can’t seem to fit in anywhere. All my life […]
Carolyn Parks Decatur, GA I think most Americans do not realize we are socialized to be racist. To not like black or brown skin…… While working as a defense contractor in Afghanistan, I had an allergic reaction to something I touched. My skin became severely irritated, which caused the skin on my hands to peel. […]
Ruth Roseville, MI Why can’t I just be the woman who is next, or next please?
Asheley Woodruff Burtonsville, MD My family recently moved from Idaho to Maryland. For the first time, my children were immersed in a racially diverse population. I realized, quickly, that my children did not understand that the United States is not a white country with a few Black, Hispanic, Asian people living in it. Furthermore, we […]
Blue Hamilton Spruce Pine, NC Having grown up poor and white in the deep south in the 1960’s, it was common to hear racial slurs whispered among my white classmates, but never directed in anger at my black or brown friends. Before segregation we all went to the same local school; rich, poor, black, brown […]
Carissa Brown Los Angeles, CA I am a struggling white college student with no scholarships. Why? Because all the scholarships available seem to be exclusively for first generation Americans, or Hispanics, or African Americans, or anyone but me. It’s not my fault I’m white. Why can’t I get scholarships??? Why can’t there be any scholarships […]
Jeffery J Jaekley Bolivar, MO Race matters. It shapes our identity, yet it is not the whole of our identity. There are elements that are common to the experience of any racial group, yet these are not universal to all members of that group. I’m bi-racial–white and Native American. Among whites, I’m often the darkest […]
Morgan Cooper, Stockton, CA. In 2007, when my ex husband and I were expecting our baby girl, we jokingly called her “Blackanese”, a term I still use endearingly. Most simply put, I am half Black and half White and my ex husband is half Japanese and half White. Never in our wildest dreams did we […]
Lynn Li, Hilo, HI. I feel a little sheltered living in Hawaii. I’m 100% Chinese and my significant other, Angel, is Afro- Latino. No one looks twice at us on the islands. Mixed race couples and children are everywhere. Plus, we pass as locals because of our looks. But we met in San Francisco and […]
Allison Valeri Charlotte, NC In 2011, I took a trip to Kenya, Africa where my team and I were welcomed in as family. We were all white, a lot of us with blond hair and blue eyes, and one person with red hair. We were a sight to be seen. We stayed in an area […]
Lora Fraracci Des Moines, IA Drake University My beautiful daughter.
Emma Croskrey Des Moines, IA Drake University During my senior year of high school we were filling out our College applications, and I remember I had this one friend that really wanted scholarships because she didn’t have a whole lot of money. Since her family moved over here from Germany she figured she could say […]
Hassan Hodges Ann Arbor, MI
John Swissler Jr. Madison, WI It is usually said that the two topics you never raise in polite conversation are religion and politics. But my experience is that most people can have a far more useful conversation about either of those than they can about issues surrounding race. Gunnar Myrdal is still right: it remains […]
Taesha Detroit, MI I think almost every dark-skinned black girl goes through a phase (that hopefully she grows out of) where she doesn’t believe she is beautiful in this ideally white society. But what can you expect when she is emerged in a society that constantly bombards her with the ideology “the lighter the better?” […]
Susan Whitemore, Hartford, CT. Most qualified white passed over due to unfair Affirmative Action quotas. AA is unfair to all whites applying for higher education and employment. Let us concentrate on CONTENT OF PROVEN ABILITY which is truly fair and not color.
Tony Moody Germany I am a retired Military Officer and Civil Service Employee. I live in Germany. A few times people assumed I am African because I am dark-skinned. In some parts of Europe there is prejudice against African Immigrants. When I say I am American or was a soldier then the conversation normally shifts […]
Mary Detroit, MI My dad was born in 1906 and would say this about perhaps the first black female anchor on a Detroit TV station; I can’t remember her name. I hope I replied “why can’t you just say she’s pretty?”
Kristen Green Richmond, VA My five-year-old multiracial daughter said these words while sitting on my lap today while we were both in bathing suits by the pool and she was comparing the color of our arms and legs. My answer, another race card: You’re a mix of mom and dad.
Twanna Robinson Thomasville, NC In Sunday school one morning, a new child asked me why my skin was so dark. I told her it was because I am a black person. She looked at me for a minute and said nothing else to me for the rest of the hour. When her mother, picked her […]
Mike Elliott Alexandria, VA My mother was brown. Her skin a shade so perfect until the day she died she was “Puddin” to her family and friends. My father a lighter shade of brown was “high yellow” and proud to be colored. He had a fraternal twin who was dark like an egg plant, blue-black. […]
Bjorn Leslie Harlson Seattle, WA For the longest time I was not fully aware of my own privilege. I would be one of those crying “reverse racism” at things like affirmative action, or any other sort of law that identifies people by their race in anyway. After taking some classes in the matter and talking […]
Mimi USA I used to want to be white or Caucasian because I thought it would be easier but I finally accepted who I was and now I embrace my heritage,I am not a dark skinned person but my last name says it all.my friend used to say I could pass as a Caucasian but I […]
Kem Huntsville, AL I was so shocked when a white co-worker said this to me. He actually thought he was giving me a compliment!
Clarissa Galindo Richardson, TX Growing up in small town Texas, most people expected me to act a certain way just because of my heritage. I was nearly the exact opposite of the living stereotype that was most of the other Mexicans in my high school, including the ones I was related to. It wasn’t until […]
Ngina wa Kaai Canada While this wasn’t said to me directly, it was said by a white coworker to a child of Indian heritage while teaching them swimming. It was a stupid thing to say, but it made me think about the fact that there were numerous swim instructors of colour on our staff (including […]
Richard Young Dallas, TX Many people believe affirmative action programs seek to remedy past injustices in hiring. These programs help balance current discrimination practices, especially in professional hiring practices. The tall white candidate will get the job over the more qualified, better prepared minority 75% of the time. Minority candidates with less than stellar backgrounds […]
David T Roth Nashville, TN I was walking through Centennial Park in Nashville, TN. I looked up to see a young Father holding his daughter of 3 or 4 facing him. It was obvious that they were interacting in a way that only parent and child can. Where the world around them disappears and they […]
Kristy Bryan Indianapolis, IN Race-based scholarships were meant to help increase the numbers of minorities in universities, but I felt like a fraud when I was awarded, as I am too pale and have no spice to my name, as a Latina should. I don’t even have a cool accent. And my family wasn’t in […]
Adana, Seattle, WA. I have 2 children. My son looks just like his papa: dark, wavy hair and alabaster skin. My daughter looks like me: golden skin and curly brown hair. When I’m out with my son, I’m asked if I’m his nanny. When I’m out with both kids, I’m asked if they have the […]
Giselle Henry Torrance, CA The first person who taught me that looking more like my African ancestors than my non-African ancestors made me ugly was my mother. She didn’t say it directly, but she said by telling me to pinch my nose so it wouldn’t be so wide. She said it by saying how “pretty” […]
Heather Bloom Bothell, WA I’ve never met a human with a stronger work ethic than my father, but after being denied a job opportunity because of the color of his skin, he stopped trying to better himself.
Julie Jackson Chicago, IL
Alexis Berkeley, CA I am of mixed race, African-American and white. Because I do not have dark skin, people love to tell me that I don’t look black, or simply ignore the fact that I am mixed. I am told simply, “You’re not black! You are white”. I am black AND white, I cannot and […]
Matt Spencer West Hollywood, CA I am well-aware of the privilege that I enjoy growing up white in America. Very rarely does my race cross my mind. My Caucasian race is not how people define or understand me. Men don’t cross the street when I approach them and women don’t clutch their purses. Nobody asks […]
VeeVee Jacksonville, FL There are times when people are honestly surprised that I am a successful African American woman. Due to my race, people have asked me really ridiculously inappropriate questions: “Was it hard to get out of the ghetto?” Me: I don’t know. I didn’t grow up in the ghetto. “Did you get into […]
Garrick Kevin Peterson Exeter, CA Being a WASP, I am privy to what white people say about blacks, hispanics and other minorities. Often they think I have the same attitudes as they do, or that I am as willing to look the other way. The kind of racism I know the most about is white-on-black […]
Helene M. Angevine-Fina Phoenix, AZ My six words ( amazed how it fit!) were said when I was 3 years old (1959) and I had just seen my very first dark skinned person, a lovely women who laughed loud, long and hard when I said it. In my childs mind I realized that like many […]
Sydney Buffalow Washington, DC A phrase that continues to be said to me till this day and I’m an adult now! I also hear it used when people feel they are complimenting a pretty female who happens to be black. As if being black and pretty don’t go together!