Grandmother ate in kitchen with housekeeper

Alice J Walker Gay, GA This concerns a story told to me about my grandmother, who died in 1960 when I was five years old. In the mid-fifties, she lived with my aunt and uncle and their boys in Rome, Georgia. On one rare occasion, she was home alone when Carrie May, the housekeeper came […]

I feel like I’m being replaced.

Rusty Shackleford, Sacramento, CA. I’ve always been surrounded by diversity and never had any issues with it, or even noticed it. Growing up in a diverse area my best friends were Sikhs, Mexicans, Chinese, etc. As I became older and more aware of the world at large, I knew what diversity was, but it felt […]

Back into closet, fear of unemployment

Luke Flint, MI Coming out in college was an amazing thing. My family accepted every part of my life. The man I met and have been with half way though college is my best friend and hopefully life partner. We now live together and I currently do not want to bring co-workers to hang out […]

The plantation haunts my gay marriage.

Erik Shawn Frampton, Charlotte, NC. I am the descendant of a line of plantation owners in South Carolina. As a gay man, my upcoming marriage will finally occur on our 20th anniversary together. My larger southern family struggles to see my identity as sacred, just as they struggle still to see minority life as sacred. […]

Black but gay so it’s ok

Fred Wherry, New York, NY. An administrative assistant remarked to my (now ex) European partner: “When I first saw Fred I was a little scared of him. Then I found out he’s gay and your partner!” Somehow, if seen alone or if I appeared too “hard,” I was intimidating. By being “soft” I could disarm […]

All-American Girl: Minority at Work

Stefanie Bernosky, Houston, TX. I was raised as an All-American girl to an All-American family in an All-American town. I even looked “All-American”, proudly featuring my braces and American Flag sweater in this dated family photo (circa 1994). We can trace my family (both sides) to the United States prior to the United States Revolution. […]

Where did you meet your wife?

Brian Comerford Aurora, CO I notice when many husbands are asked a similar question, the word “where” is substituted with “how”; my impression is that because I am a white Anglo male married to a Southeast Asian woman with a foreign accent, the question is actually front-loaded with curiosity about whether or not we were […]

White trash married to black man

Tamera, Evans, GA. I still hear this comment from people even after being in a 32 year long loving marriage, having 3 children, and 5 grandchildren. I have heard that comment or a similar one from whites and blacks and that is truly sad to me. Love has no color boundaries in my eyes and […]

Race isn’t more legitimate than sexuality.

David Chase, New York, NY. Apparently some people feel that “all oppression is not equal”. My experience as a gay white man unfortunately has not always been one of solidarity with non-gay non-white people. Growing up as a child in Woodstock, NY in the 60’s and 70’s I was brought up to be supportive of […]

Black Vietnamese. Speak spanish. Eat rice.

Hao Nguyen, Durham, NC. I wanted to say… Black Vietnamese. Speak english, spanish, vietnamese. Eat suong kho, pho, and corn dogs. Words that describe my mixed race/heritage children. Having to choose only 6 words, I had to put them in order of words that most describe them. Having to choose what comes first — black […]

Israel’s Gay Latin Jew from USA.

Brian Isaac Rizowy, Israel. Born and raised in the USA to Jewish parents, one from Sarandi Grande, Uruguay, the other from Chicago, I am nearly 100% Polish, with a dash of Russian and Mongolian thrown in. My great grandmother hid her Asian features with swanky glasses from the 1940s and 50s, lest anyone suspect her […]

But where are you really from?

Christopher Lee-Rodriguez, Boston, MA. We don’t live in a post-racial society. We live in a post-race society. We live in a country where in a short amount of time, there will no longer be a majority race. And race is continuing to be reshaped and redefined. I am half Chinese and half Puerto Rican. I […]

Marrying a white Hispanic isn’t mixing

Mary Spain I’m married to a dark haired dark eyed white skinned Spanish speaking man of pure European descent. He is Spanish. We live in Spain! When many of my American friends comment on our biracial marriage or our children being mixed I want to correct them but feel that by doing so i’ll come […]

Grandma’s racial rejection disappeared with Olivia

Elizabeth Clair Winslow, Denver, CO. No one from my immediate family showed up when George and I were married. But when Olivia was born, all that changed. George was from Jamaica… a brown man. I was from Maryland; Mom said black Irish. Olivia teaches us about Intersectionality and Bias, twenty years later.

Asian Americans, we the ultimate invisibles

The Invisible, USA While the media strive to be politically correct about every other race and ethnic group in America, somehow Asians, esp. Chinese Americans, seem to be the forgotten (and often bullied and ridiculed) race. In a country where people are “outraged” just about everything, nobody (outside of the Asian community) says anything about […]

Like looking through a semi-opaque window.

Tony, Chicago, IL. I chose these six words because when it comes to race, it is like we are looking at each other through a semi-opaque window that shows an image without great detail. We use our own experiences and bias to fill out the missing detail.

Rulership does not belong to man

Megonon New York City, NY History has proved that mankind cannot under any circumstances good/bad..rule each other fairly..there will always be prejudices/favoritism/biases..thats the common psychcology of man…they need a higher power

I Don’t Get To Be Colorblind

Jenn M. Jackson, Chicago, IL. Every single day I am accused of “making things about race.” I’m told that I’m “looking for racism” in everything. I’m told I must lead a sad, angsty life since I can’t stop pulling the “race card.” I often get this feedback from Whites who feel uncomfortable when I note […]

I am not one for boxes.

Denise Duvernay, Cupertino, CA. People are always trying to figure out exactly, what I am. But does learning my nationality, ethnicity, religion, sexual background, or any other particular thing tell you anything about WHO I AM? So often, I feel like people are just looking for any excuse to dismiss you, or box you into […]

Tribalism is more divisive than race.

Elias Jones, Charlottesville, VA. It is tribalism that leads to assumptions both affirming (they are like me, they accept me, I am safe with them) and disruptive (they don’t like us, we don’t trust them, they are different). Tribalism perpetuates white privilege, empowers classism – which is informed and compounded by racism and sexism – […]

White People Tears Are My Lipton’s

Alex Miller, New York, NY. White people. Some of you, not all… please notice that I said SOME…some of you have been wondering, for a while, “Why am I always called a racist?” “Why do blacks blame me for slavery? My family never owned slaves!” And that sort of gives me pause because: What, did […]

White people: not them, but us.

Jessica Keast, Portland, ME. I’ve noticed that many white people have a tendency to use the pronoun ‘them’ instead of ‘us’ in relation to other white people when talking about race. By failing to include ourselves the group we push the blame off ourselves, but also neglect to recognize the implicit biases present in everyone. […]

Only Black in office. Very Isolating

Ursie Bankhead, Buffalo, NY. I have a PhD, have studied race issues. And still struggle in my workplace. Mostly within my own department. I have support from several friends of various races/ethnicities/backgrounds, etc. But, it is difficult at times being “the only” and to experience microinvalidations during staff meetings or to end up in a […]

Something so important, but also not.

Sheri Baxter, Washington, DC. Race and identity are things that are so essential and important to who you are as a person. But also it’s not. Because when we meet people, friend people, love people, help people, work with people….those who live without hate and bias do all of these things without any consideration of […]

I’m told to get over it.

Anonymous, Houston, TX. It’s hard being a young “smart” black man, especially in the military. If to good at my job it’s because “we helped you out more because we don’t want you to think we where racists” then if I’m not good at my job its. “Well you know black people are lazy…” Plus […]

Stereotypes: “Wake-up Everybody!”: Analyze Your Thinking

Mark Ross, California, CA. These issues are complex. Stereotypes (or action using information from stereotype) are based often enough on at least some modicum of reality (authentic or perceived). The wrong view As an African-American male, I have been unduly perceived as a threat. That suspicion has been acted upon several times by government authority, […]

Sorry, My Mom Don’t Like Blacks

Amber Roberson-Rowell, Essex, MD. That was my second incident of prejudice and what instilled in me that race–the color of my skin–was a problem. The first was during my first day of pre-school and being pushed off a tricycle by a little white boy and being told “You don’t belong here!” I was the ONLY […]

Women tell hidden mixed heritage story.

Jodi Su Tharan, Berkeley, CA. My family is Jewish, Apache Chiricahua, additional hidden tribes that still remained unnamed after years of research, Welsh, Scots, Irish, English and probably more. We joke that we are ‘the great unwashed’..not nice but in a way reclaiming the history of poor folks from all over becoming the beauty of […]

Such power in words and action

Alyssa Cartee New York City, NY Queens Every word and every action in life has such extreme consequences. The Civil Rights movement reminds me that the choice to make your words and actions negative or positive prove who you are as a person

My role model was not black.

Jamal Wills, MD. People often say that black kids need black role models. I sort of cheated. The wild hair, thoughtful eyes, the chin and the smile always reminded me of my grandfather. Yet, Albert Einstein was a German Jew whose prominence in the scientific community reached celebrity status. Even then, he still had to […]

Damn, did you see that White girl?

Lisa Jasinsk, Trinity University In 2007, I spent a year working at The Apollo Theater in Harlem, NY. One day on my way into the office, I slipped on an icy sidewalk on 125th Street, and in a comic prat fall, landed on my bottom in a filthy puddle. A group of guys gathered outside […]

I am more than 3/5ths person

Lynell, Nashville, TN. “We live in a system that espouses merit, equality, and a level playing field, but exalts those with wealth, power, and celebrity, however gained.” ― Derrick A. Bell, Ethical Ambition: Living a Life of Meaning and Worth

I want to be like Mom

Susan, Boulder, CO. I’ve been going through something of an identity crisis recently. I’m 31, of mixed race (1/2 Mexican and 1/2 a mix of European). Although my mom was born in Mexico and is fluent in Spanish, I wasn’t raised much in the culture because I grew up on an Air Force Base in […]

I trusted adults that taught hate.

Stan Pitts Anchorage, AK I grew up in Birmingham, Alabama, and was 10 years old during the fateful year 1963. My father was a Birmingham Police officer terribly conflicted between upholding the law and the treatment of the civil rights participants. My trusted adults and role models, the church leaders, scout masters, and teachers, taught […]

Equality isn’t found using guilt trips

Chris Wehunt, Overland Park, KS. So much focus is put on splitting up races, every time the race card is used in the media you see social media flipping out, looking for cases of white or black people being attacked by the opposite race, then guilt tripping not only mass media, but society as a […]

Why not love one another daily?

Jim Schneider, Long Grove, IA Despite being a 58 yr old, white male raised in an all white, rural community in central Illinois, nothing will warm my heart more that seeing America making significant progress towards ensuring that ALL Americans (regardless of ethnicity, gender, identity, religion or any other means of sorting us out as […]

Latkes or lumpia- beautiful Hapa struggle

Ann Hirschhorn, Silver Spring, MD. My parents grew up in a time where interracial couples were criticized for diluting the race of their children. My father expressed a fear that because I was of a mixed race background, I might not feel that there was a culture or place where I belonged. My mother grew […]

Are you having white girl problems?

Charley Birdsall, Kailua, HI One night, my friends were having dinner across the street from where my family and I were having dinner. So, I decided to go surprise them. They were all in the bathroom and when I went in there I startled them and they screamed. Then a very white employee that was […]

With kids, people don’t separate us.

Steve Cox, Jackson, OH. Prior to having kids, people usually thought my wife (Chinese ethnic, Thai national) and I (white) were separate. If we went through a line at the store and we were both caring something, they would assume we were separate. Same thing would happen at airports and people would send us to […]

Racially inclusive only when conveniently beneficial

Zensaku, Japan As a multiracial person, I find that the majority of people from your background will lay claim to a person who does good for that “race”. Win a medal and you are “one of ours”. Commit a crime or struggle as an immigrant and you are “from the other race”. Hence my race […]

Your families background doesn’t even matter!

Sara Proffett, Healy, AK. I am Russian, Scottish and Spanish. I’ve always been kind of tan and I have light brown hair. I’m short but not stout. I’ve always been made fun of for being a tiny little girl. I am a mix of different races so I was never really made fun of for […]

Yes, I was born in Detroit.

Amanda Nelski, Los Angeles, CA. People like to put other people in boxes. “Where are you really from?” they ask. I used to answer Detroit. When they asked where my parents are from, Detroit was not suitable either. “You don’t look like you’re from Detroit.” After some banter I would eventually confess my lineage is […]

Does her black baby doll offend?

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 […]

Invisible to the census but here

Grsteena Khoshaba, Warren, MI. I am a Middle Eastern girl and I just have one question. Where am I? Why is it whenever I have to fill out an official document that asks for my race, Middle Eastern is not an option? We are forced to bubble “White” when we’re not really white.

I finally accepted my own origins

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 […]

Asian-American stories are rarely told.

Timothy Leong, Orinda, CA. I want to change that. Representation in American media spaces need to change in order to combat the stigma that comes with the model minority myth. Also to show the world that we are all different and vary from stereotypes.

Oceanic? I’ve NEVER heard of that.

Lee, Saipan, MP. Oceania is the proper geographical name of a defined region, as are North America, Europe, Asia, etc. People are Native American, European, Asian… I am, among other things, Oceanic or Oceanian; a person descended from ancestors from Oceania. Specifically, Micronesia. The term “pacific islander” as a racial category is an oddity that […]

Making fun of Asians is not fun

Seungmin Shin, Korea, Republic of. I’ve been watching standing comedies these days, but I stopped watching it recently. I found a serious irony from those standing comedies; they make fun of Asian people a lot, and they feel no guilty, while they very carefully or never make joke about African-Americans or black people. People are […]

Soul Surfer is Light without color

NanJo Carter, Richmond, CA. I grew up in the fifties and sixties. We moved to Japan when I was 2. We moved to Montgomery, AL when I was six and I attended Capitol Heights Elementary School. These were intense times with the National Guard escorting us to class and the school. We experienced discrimination and […]

My skin is my greatest teacher

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. […]

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 […]

“Generic Brown” is my passport everywhere.

Gil L. Pettigrew, MS, The Federated States of Micronesia. I have a very strong, very proud cultural heritage; I’m a North American Mestizo, 50% Native American (Creek and Cherokee; my tribal enrollment/citizenship is with the Echota Band of the Eastern Cherokee Nation) & 50% a mashup of Scots-Latin-AfricanAmerican-Welsh-french. I self ID as Native American, because […]

Enough to make you look pretty

Adrienne Zimiga, Minneapolis, MN. I was born and raised on the Pine Ridge reservation my first 12 years. Upon moving from Batesland, SD to Castlewood, SD my caucasian grandmother was concerned that my brothers, sister, and I could face social problems being part Native American (iyeska: mixed blood/race) in an all white community. She told […]

Mexican-American, But No Hablo Espanol

Vincent Yanez, Long Beach, CA. For as long as I remember my mother, and myself as I got older, was given a very hard time from people in our neighborhood and some family members about my little sister, little brother, and I not being able to speak Spanish. My mother and father both grew up […]

Is the word “Haole” racist?

Joel, Honolulu, HI I live in Hawaii and I’ve always gone back and forth about the word “haole”. I tend to use it but I wonder if it’s considered offensive. Perhaps it depends on the context and why you’re saying the word. I’ve used the word to describe a person; “So and so is hapa-haole” […]

12 million reasons to be exceptional!

Anita Hughes, Ellenwood, GA For all the 12.5 million Africans who were shipped to this part of the world we owe it to them to be better African-Americans. Every single slave is a reason why we ought to do our best and be our best at all times and in all places.

All are precious in His sight.

Mary Haak, Orlean, VA I think we (white folks) must be afraid we’re going to be treated as poorly as we’ve treated everyone else once we’re no longer the majority. What I’ve seen from folks, regardless of color, religious affiliation, ethnicity or any other category, is that everyone just want to be treated with dignity […]

Whites can’t tell blondes apart either

Erin Jones, Lake Placid, NY How many times have I known people (mostly fellow whites, but also blacks?) who can’t tell two people apart if they both have blonde hair. No matter how different they otherwise are in size age length of hair etc. Why is this? Is there any racial message in it? Is […]

More letters add less Dr. Makombe

Scheri-lyn Makombe, IN. My confidence increased when I got married, even more when I graduated from Medical school. I never thought that the addition of ‘Dr.’ and the changing of my name from Green to Makombe would present as a hurdle.

Bridge across cultures: our reconciliation, salvation

Ned Reese, Onalaska, WI. Other potential submissions: 1) Hunka (Dakota adoptee) by/for whom, 2) immigrants all: borders–when, where, why?, 3) Coming home–whose space? 4) Left out–I’m in, who’s out? I’m a white male, 69 yrs. old, married to a Hochunk, Indigenous woman, with five Hochunk daughters. As Hunka (adopted) Dakota (Ally), I have found a […]

Your soul is deeper than skin color

Melissa Pierce, Bowling Green, OH. As people, we need to start seeing each other for who they are rather than what they are. People have personalities, souls, and feelings that we are not taking account of when we only see skin color.

My children jumpstarted my racial identity.

Johnny, Concord, MA. As a gay Asian man married to a white man with two adopted children of color (one black, one Latino), I came to understand my own racial identity trough the experience of welcoming our two children into our family. It’s taught me that to really provide a strong racial identity for my […]

Still figuring out my six words.

Rob Moore, Oak Park, IL. I was raised in Southern California, born into a military family. I’ve lived most of my life in a white–or beige–bubble. Recently, because of an important and loving relationship, I’ve been thinking a lot more about race as it affects us today. Reading Claudia Rankine, Patricia Smith, many others who […]

Not Member of Your White Club

Britt Verstegen, Socorro, NM. I grew up as a blonde, blue-eyed kid in an interracial family within a racially diverse neighborhood of inner-city Detroit. My step-father is Black and my sisters are biracial. Due to my family composition, I became aware of white privilege at an early age. For example, I knew in third grade […]

Same DNA but born this way

Lily, Lake Forest, CA. Currently taking Biological Anthropology and am finding it both fascinating and eye-opening. My six words are an excerpt from Lady Gaga’s song “Born This Way”. It probably looks corny or, perhaps, cliché but I did put some thought into it! When I had first heard those lyrics, I had to research […]

I thought your house would be big

Michelle Robillard, Lake Forest, CA. I’ve never lived in a “house.” It’s always been an apartment or condo, never had my own room except when I was young and my sister wasn’t born yet. I am white and used to be blonde and people assumed I lived well. Quite the opposite. My parents try their […]