View perceived differences as valuable opportunity.

Lauren C, TX I wish for my half white, half Mexican children to grow up knowing that perceived differences should be an opportunity to learn about another person or people, and how much they may truly have in common. An opportunity to embrace someone or their culture and traditions, and maybe learn something new about […]

Mexican girls don’t need a Quinceañera

Yadhira, 8th Grade Holland New Tech High School, Holland, MI. My friends and cousins tell me that I need to have a Quinceañera and I tell them I don’t want a big party with everyone dancing, Some of my family members say I should have my quinceanera at Mexico, but I don’t want one I […]

Expansive Roots, Exquisite Tongues, Diversity Perpetuated

Christopher Ramsey, Phoenix, AZ. From Mexico, to Ireland to Guam and then back to Spain. I embrace the wealth in language, food, faith and tradition. I intend to continue what my parents started and charitably inform those inquisitive minds to breakdown their misconceptions into fertile ground for understanding and respect.

I’m caramel, you’re peach, we’re sweet!

Leah Turner Lancaster, PA One time, a little girl ask me what color I was. At the time my snippy come-back was “Choca-mocha-latte!”, but I figured that was a little much for a six year old who was honestly curious. So I looked at my skin and said “Caramel”. She said “Oh,” Looked at her […]

Am I too White to Help?

Olivia Loesch, SHAKOPEE, MN. I always feel bad when I am trying to work at Target and go through my day when I see someone being racial to a guest. I try to step in but typically the white person makes me help them instead. I want to help all of those around me in […]

Neighborhood party we were not invited

Ninfa Pena-Purcell, College Station, TX. This picture of my parents captures a young Mexican American couple with aspirations to live the American dream in the 1950s only to find out that their family of six children would never be welcomed in their neighborhood. Years later this experience has stayed with me and made me resolve […]

Indian who was clueless about race

Charuta Apte, Sammamish, WA. I am an Indian, and teach in a under-served community in a school which is equally white, black and hispanic. In the beginning, it was a recipe for disaster. Now, it feels empowering. Just last week, I had a few student accuse me of going easy on a girl who they […]

That’s so typical of you people.

Angela Ogbonna Baltimore, MD I chose these six words because I find myself following this learned behavior. As a Nigerian, I even hold other Nigerians to a certain high standard because that’s what we are taught as children and what’s expected of us. I feel that no matter what your ethnicity is people will always […]

Bicultural and Bilingual should be enough.

Megan Medrano, Houston, TX. Growing up Latina in south Texas, I have always been surrounded with rich culture. My home was filled with both the English and Spanish language and I was encouraged to live both my Mexican and U.S. Latina identities. I did not realize how important an ethnic identity was until I came […]

Please don’t ask me to jig.

Zee Brennan Grand Rapids, MI Often times when I share with people that I am Irish, many people aren’t surprised and demand that I dance a jig for them. Although I am also an accomplished Irish dancer, it feels as though there is an assumption among many Americans that all Irish know how to dance […]

Own history, own America, our turn.

Keith Stokes, Newport, RI. Persons of African heritage have been far too long a background to much of American history. The more we can learn and share about our important contributions to American history, the more we as a people will be able to share in the full fruits of living and prospering in America.

Touched. Terrified, Empathetic. Praying for change.

Leanne Gutierrez, Eden Prairie, MN. Growing up white and privileged in a midwestern college town, I later lived in a Central American country for several years, married a man from that country and now have been raising a beautiful multi-culture/multi-colored family in various states in the midwest. Seeing racism, watching my family process it and […]

My creativity eludes definition by color

Jay Fluellen Philadelphia, PA I am an African American male who teaches in the public school system in Philadelphia. I constantly defy the comprehension of my predominately African American students by talking without cursing, listening to classical music, using words they don’t understand and by dressing professionally. I push passed all of this to teach […]

I’m A Human, Not A Fruit

Gabrielle Guzman San Diego, CA Yes, I am Mexican. Yes, I know I apparently hold the same facial features as someone who would be considered Asian. No, I did not just cross the border. No, I do not speak Spanish, although I can understand it fluently and am taking classes to learn it. I am […]

“You remind me of my mother.”

Susan Boyer, Decatur, GA. These words were spoken to me by a young black waiter. I’m an old white woman. “We got a connection”, he said. And I felt it. I was so touched by his generosity of spirit. I walk around my diverse city, aware of my racist culture and upbringing and practice looking […]

Joy is the armor of truth

Judith Angelo Cleveland Heights, OH I began with six words from Alice Walker’s novel about FGM, Possessing the Secret of Joy : “The secret of joy is resistance.” I’m a white radical lesbian feminist, and I associate them with my primary teachers about race in America: Audre Lorde (Sister Outsider) and Derrick Bell (Faces at […]

You may not know you’re racist.

Taylor Hirano, Irvine, CA. Growing up in a mostly Caucasian community, many of my fellow peers didn’t know they were racist against me. It could come from backhanded compliments like “You’re so pretty for an Asian”, to minor comments such as “My sisters boyfriend is Asian, you probably know him”. Whenever I said anything they […]

Two worlds, where do I belong?

Manuel Catalan, Lompoc, CA. Being a Mexican American always makes me think about how race affects everyone. I was born in the United States but my family comes from Mexico, although I look like I could’ve been born in Mexico myself. I serve in the U.S Marine Corps and I get to experience and meet […]

We are all in this together

Christopher Davies, Bridgewater, MA. For the hogwash between people with different skin types to lessen it is up to parents to teach their children that we are all on the same team. lets all work as one to make planet earth a better place

Χιος to Hughes…we’re all immigrants

Patricia Hughes, Lake Arrowhead, CA. My father’s father took the long route of immigration from Greece during the political upheavals occurring in the early part of the 20th century, and later sent for his family. My father and some of his siblings were born in America. Growing up extremely poor in Denver, Colorado, my father […]

My Family Well Kept Secret Revealed

Mary F. Howard, Stockbridge, GA. I discovered I am one-fourth Native American. My paternal grandfather is full blood Cherokee. I just learned several months ago by eavesdropping on a conversation about race between my paternal uncle and aunt. They had just learned of additional children by their father outside of the marriage. It has often […]

Witnessing humanity’s evolution: hate to love (?).

Carol Mowen, Greencastle, PA. When I first wrote this “race card” in 2014, I had firmly placed a period at its end. In 2016, I am moved to revise it slightly – to add the question mark in parentheses because I am not as sure we’re on the trajectory from hate to love as clearly […]

Growing up in America as “other.”

Marie K. Shanahan, Submitted via Twitter: ‏@mariekshan. When you’re not quite minority enough. In 1997 at age 25, I came to terms with my place and my (mixed) race in America. I wrote a personal essay about it for The Hartford Courant: “Mixed Races, Mixed Messages: What Happens When You’re Asked To Choose Between Two […]

No eye contact because I’m white.

Cynthia Flynn Bryn Mawr, PA This was mostly not true where I grew up in inner city Seattle, but when I went to the South in 1968, that was my universal experience of African-Americans. It still happens today, even in professional settings.

Progress? We’ve been running in place.

Christina H. Washinton, DC Too often this summer (2014), I’ve felt like we’re reliving the events and emotions of ’65, ’68, and ’69. I cannot believe we still have to protest the killings of unarmed black people. Progress on race? Some days it feels like this nation has just been running in place.

Black Woman Who Loves to Swim!

Eb, Rowlett, TX. I am a black woman and I am already missing the summertime. I love to go to a local swimming pool (and yes I will get my hair wet!) in the middle of a Texas summer. I have a naturally kinky, curly and thick afro and there is nothing relaxing on a […]

My race isn’t who I am

Jackson R Barnes, Ferrum, VA. My race/ ethnicity hasn’t effected me in the slightest. I have not been discriminated against or any other of these ill circumstances that I hear others go through. Perhaps I am sheltered or maybe I am blind, but in a case such as this maybe it is better to be […]

I am a proud American man

Charles Tanner, Midland, TX. I am an American,there is not a pre or post to that I was not brought here I was born here. Yes my distant family came from somewhere else. But as with anyone who truly wants to be an American they assimilated. Just as if I wanted to make any other […]

White Baby Boomer Low Wage Slave.

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 […]

Who’s directing? It’s HER? No Way!!

Lorna Green, Altadenam, CA. I am an independent filmmaker, a writer-director, African American, and a woman. This combination confuses some people; it makes no sense to them because most directors are white guys. Granted, I selected a profession that relegates me to invisibility, but what’s interesting is the day-to-day reality of this. Working with new […]

Apparently, I’m Jesus, or a terrorist.

John Abraham, Grand Rapids, MI. Thanks to my Italian and Lebanese heritage, I am blessed to say I have a fairly full beard and curly brown hair. However, these two attributes have granted me two common nicknames: “Jesus” or “Terrorist”. I suppose I look like many modern-day depictions of Jesus and when I’m referred to […]

Whitefish Bay white school white Church

Mark Brandfass. Pittsburgh, PA. In the summer of ’63 my family had just moved to Whitefish Bay, Wisconsin. My father was a salesman for Westinghouse Electric and we moved as his work demanded. I would be entering the diocesan Catholic seminary the next year, my brothers and sisters attended the local Catholic schools. I don’t […]

My skin is not my culture.

Rachel Brinson, Centennial, CO. People always want to put me in a box and assume what I find offensive, what I find familiar, and how I choose to see myself and others. No one chooses to see human first, identity second. I will forever be explaining that the body given to me is arbitrary, and […]

Drowning in generalizations; floating on truth

Alexis Ford Ann Arbor, MI Understanding Race Project- University of Michigan As an African American, I have several generalizations placed upon me. Some people just assume who I am. I am rarely asked. While a lot of these assumptions hurt, I know the truth. I know only my own actions and words define me. I […]

Leave identity issues to other people

Phyllis W. Allen, Fort Worth, TX. I am a sixty year old woman who has lived through segregation, integration, Colored, Negro,, Black, African American, segregation, marches, integration, Pan Africanism, opulent consumption, financial catastrophe and now I’m just me.

I’m seventy two, and race tired!

Celeste Havis, Jacksonville, FL. Science and religion alike informs us that the concept of race is an illusion. Why do we continue to hang on to this antiquated concept when it only serves to divide us? I have dedicated my life to building positive human relations and now it appears to me that we are […]

Torn. Frijoles charros or apple pie?

Inga Paterson-Zuniga West Orange, NJ I am a German-Scottish Spanish teacher, born and raised in the USA. I learned to see the world through multi-colored lenses after living for several years in Mexico, marrying into a Mexican family and acquiring a love of all things Mexican. As a middle school Spanish teacher I hope to […]

Discuss race fearlessly to unite people

Susana Gluck, Minneapolis, MN. There has to be open and sincere talk about race, our perceptions and preconceptions. Each group has to be able to hear the goods and bads we perceive about each other to find common and higher ground and an acceptance of our shared humanity. We can be critical but also loving.

Never Visited the Country I Claim

Joelle Kanyana, TN. When people ask me where I’m from, my answer is always, “I’m Burundian.” However, there is often an identity crisis in my mind because I was born in Ghana and have spent most of my life in the United States. Furthermore, I never learned Kirundi, Burundi’s native language. But Burundi is the […]

Infertility Opens Your Eyes To Acceptance

Erika Barker Mansfield, PA Nothing about infertility is easy.. My husband and I want a family so much but so far we can’t have one. We would love to adopt, and race is not an issue. It makes us see there are deeper and more important things to think about than the color of the […]

Education is the key to change

Autumn Segrest, Highland Heights, KY. As a white woman from suburban America, it can be hard to understand the struggles of the countless people who were not born into whiteness. Their experiences with racism and prejudice shape their identity as much as my privilege shapes mine. But through education, whether it be traditional schooling or […]

What’s having an Asian baby like?

Taylor Pederson, MN. Almost 2 years ago I gave birth to my beautiful baby girl. She has my smile, my big eyes, my fine hair with a touch of red that shows when the sun hits it, my long fingers, and so much more. But no one sees this. They don’t see me in her […]

You’re mixed with that hair, right?

Khairah L. Walker, Montclair Heights, NJ. My hair is not my heritage. It’s been an issue my entire life, people define me because of it. People hate me for having it, curse me when cutting it. It is not ME. Yes it is my crown but I am my temple. I revel in my blackness, […]

I believe in the melting pot.

Dustin F. Hecker, Needham, MA. Identity politics will be the death of the grand American National experiment. In my humble opinion, we need to stop focusing on the 2% of our DNA that makes us look different than others and focus on the 98% of our DNA that makes us really quite similar. That does […]

Let me walk in your shoes

Renee Poselski, Riverside, CA. So Cal – Atlanta – Hawaii – Russia: No matter where I have lived, my heart yearns to connect and understand. Writing this, I am hesitating because I don’t want you to think that I can’t understand because I am white. My whiteness is a wall between you and me. I […]

Many fingers needed to hold tomorrow

William Hood Vancouver, B.C., Canada A successful tomorrow requires humanity to be connected as brothers and sisters for our children and grandchildren to survive and thrive. We are each one finger but cannot hold this promise of tomorrow alone. Our diversity is our strength. Our common humanity our bond.

Out of Appalachia, into the world

Katie Pickard Fawcett, McLean, VA. Grew up in Eastern Kentucky in a county that is in the bottom 5% economically in the country. I have done social work in Appalachia, tutored students for SAT prep in VA, worked at the World Bank for 10 years, and am the author of To Come and Go Like […]

My heart will forever be grateful

Randy-Michael, Long Island, NY. No matter the struggles I go through as a Puerto Rican adult in this world, I will forever be grateful of what I have been granted in this life. My family, my friends, all the positives and the negatives I cherish and when I get knocked down, I learn to get […]

Kindergarten Registration: White? Asian? Choices? Eskimo!

Heinrich Beck Melville, NY I am white. Both my parents are from Germany. I have reddish blonde hair and a red beard. My wife is Okinawan (from Japan). I went to register my older daughter for kindergarten, and they use “Power School” as an intake form. My daughter looks much more like my wife, but […]

Identity is the root of suffering

Scotty, Detroit, MI. Race is real. Sometimes, it is also necessary to play the role we are born into. Most of the time, however, we don’t need to look at the world through a racial lens. This causes judgement and suffering because of who we take ourselves to be. What you see, you cannot be. […]

Benefit and burden with being biracial

Ryann Williams, Trinity University In a lot of ways, having two parents of different racial/ethnic backgrounds allows a unique insight into both cultures. It can be extremely enlightening to see how both sides can be so different and yet so similar at the exact same time. However, there is always this feeling as if I […]