The only race without a country

Denise Smith, Birmingham, AL. Who am I, and where do I belong, Who am I and why can’t I sing my own song, Why in order to be accepted, must I talk like you, Why must I walk and sing your song too, Who am I and where do I belong, Did you not know […]

A foreigner in my childhood home

Daryn Crowell Denver, CO I am a US citizen but my family moved to Peru when I was two years old. Basically my whole childhood was in Peru. I grew up with much of society telling me I could not consider myself in any degree Peruvian and that I was from the U.S. However, in […]

I’m afraid for my black child

Juli, Brooklyn, NY. There are places in this country that I would never live because of the racism in certain areas. Eventually my daughter might want to live or go to college outside of NYC and it scares me. We see more often because of cellphone video and dashcams that police see it fit to […]

“He’s not your son? Oh good!”

Amber Halverson, Eugene, OR. “Oh good! He doesn’t look like he has any white in him at all!” My first real encounter with my own race that I can remember was when I was in middle school. My white godparents had just adopted a black baby. They “kept his black name”, DiMario, as his middle […]

From love – fear, (a) foreigner’s view (on) racism.

David Chen, New York, NY. I grew up in China listening to artists like 50 cent, Tupac, Snoop dogg (lion), and Jay-Z. I have every one of Jay-Z’s songs memorized and for a Chinese kid, that wasn’t easy. For as long as I can remember, I was fascinated by African American (is this the politically […]

For Me, Racism Started at Home

Sarah S., Washington, DC. My Puerto Rican grandmother used to call me “muchacha fea,” while calling my dark-haired, dark-eyed, darker-skinned, curly-haired sisters, “muchacha linda.” That woman treated me like Cinderella. When we were kids, one of my sisters took my grandmother’s cues, and decided to torment me by saying that I was adopted (I wasn’t), […]

Three degrees, still remember stones thrown.

Akua Lezli Hope, Corning, NY. As a child in the great City, I was stoned and jeered as I made my way to Opportunity classes at PS 156, Laurelton Queens. The only black children were in these classes for intellectually gifted children — not among those whose parents demonstrated against our presence. I had seen […]

Deep-seated racism persists in divided city.

Jack Kiehl, St. Louis, MO. I live in a city that is significantly divided between blacks and whites. The division and living in such homogenous communities is one of the strongest reasons why racism, both subtle and overt, continue today. This project inspired a deep look into this issue and was the inspiration for an […]

We are more alike than unalike

Emily Patten, Phoenix, AZ. I grew up in a city with a substantial lack of racial diversity, yet my parents and teachers were able to instill values of acceptance and empathy. In my adult life, I’ve found that those two beliefs go pretty far in the way of understanding those who don’t look like me. […]

I thought you were a “hoodrat”

Cierra Garza, Parlier, CA. When I first moved to my new high school 15 minutes away from my hometown, I had no friends. I am now a senior in high school. I’ve met new people and made friends but, one thing that always comes up when someone is comfortable with me is the phrase, “I […]

I am scared to drive alone

Ariel Foreman, Raleigh, NC. I just moved to North Carolina from Virginia. I’m scared to travel on highway 14 between Home and Raleigh especially at night…because it’s heavily monitored by police. I should not be scared of a group that’s suppose to protect me.

Gaining knowledge to break the cycle

Regina Hatten, Japan. I grew up in a predominantly white area with family who used racial slurs regularly and racially profiled all those who were different. As an adult I learned how wrong they were and I don’t want that to be who I am.

I am black and a target

Chris Porter, Seattle, WA. It is hard for me to think about living in a country where my life seems to have little value. It is hard to think about living in a country that is the envy of so many around the world and yet I am not part of that envy. It is […]

Must we forget our Confederate ancestors?

Jesse Dukes, Charlottesville, VA. This question was on my mind recently, when I wrote an article for Virginia Quarterly Review about Confederate reenactors at the 150th anniversary of Gettysburg. I don’t actually have any Confederate ancestors I’m aware of, but most of the reenactors do. All of the reenactors I talked to considered slavery to […]

Accept the reality; own YOUR story

Juan-Day Charlottesville, VA I chose these words because there’s nothing left to say. I’ve grown tired of the same dance around this issue. Race matters because history matters. History hasn’t been kind to brown skin. Educate yourself and your loved ones. If WE don’t appreciate our brown-ness it’s laughable to expect others to.

Slavery’s legacy broke my family pride.

Katherine E. Byroade, West Hartford, CT. When I was a child, my southern grandmother took great delight in the fact that she was a Jamestown descendant and DAR member and saw her membership in those organizations as part of her legacy to her granddaughters, ensuring our social success. She was matter of fact that the […]

Your words don’t change who I am

Blake Coffey, Van Nuys, CA. In a world where being mixed is supposed to be looked at as beautiful, it’s not as easy when you are. People automatically assume that all mixed people are supposed to look mixed just like they assume all Mexicans are brown. I’m born to a mixed black/white father who looks […]

Family matters; race, not at all.

Phyllis Kedl, Little Canada, MN. Ours is a multi-ethnic family. We have fourteen grandkids, only five of whom are ethnically related to us. The rest? Two African American, three Hispanic and four Chinese. We are anything but vanilla, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Your project, Michele, may offer our country’s first — […]

The only white person here? (How does it feel)

Rebecca Zavala, Los Angeles, CA. Well, to start I’m not even white… I get this ALL THE TIME. People assume I’m white or Asian, or a mix of the both. It is not insulting to me now, but growing up it was a little irritating having to continually explain that I am Mexican American. At […]

You Look Like Your Dad

Krystal Lopez, San Jose, CA. Being Mexican that’s all I tried to be growing up, but the truth is there is a black hole that I have made with being Native American. Growing up I never knew the man I would call my “Dad”. It was always just me and my Mexican & German mother. […]

Racism is Alive, Prejudice does Exist

David Murray, Highland Heights, KY. I feel, especially now, that this sums up what is going on in not only our country, but the world. With what is happening with Trump now and what happened leading up to the election and inauguration, it is clear to see that prejudice and discrimination are alive throughout the […]

Exotic name! where are you from

Vidhya Mallikarjunan, Blacksburg, VA. I was born and have lived in the US for my whole life. And I’ve been blessed to live in a town where my race doesn’t come up too often especially in negative ways. But still so innocently people will constantly ask “where I’m from” but I’m from Blacksburg. It’s so […]

Adopted but am I still Mexican

Kasey Nichols, Clemmons, NC. I’ve known I’ve been adopted since I can remember and never questioned my ethnicity until I reached middle school age because we had to fill out cards with “check yes if Latino, African American, white or other.” Biologically I’m Mexican and Italian, but I was raised white with my dad being […]

A “melting-pot” of my past & future.

Holly Sandman, Ione, CA. I’ve been learning a lot about my ancestors and their immigration into America. I am Irish. I am Scottish. I am Dutch. I am German. I am Swedish, and these are only the ones I have identified so far. I am a melting pot of ancestors and struggles and successes. But […]

Just one never happened friendship story

Julie B., Itasca, IL. This story started on social network, I followed one blogger I have mutual friend with. She is black woman in her 30th, single. I was reading her timeline and it was pretty interesting meaning her style and subjects she chooses. We started exchanging comments and “likes” and everything was fine, I […]

I’m more than just a color

Jasmyn Joseph, Lithonia, GA. I’m from Mobile, Al….. Bible Belt city, unfortunate my grandparents where witch doctors. My granny is half Black-American and Native Cherokee and grandfather was said to be Haitian. While my dad is a creole and Black-American mix. Yet, with some many mixtures in the boiling pot, I’m usually all the time […]

Not Mexican Looking “You know Spanish!?”

Daisy Reyes, Rialto, CA. Even as a little girl in Mexico I was the “Chinita” (little Chinese). When I came to the U.S., I was either confused with Filipino or just Asian when people couldn’t figure out which race. My now husband, has been confused with a Hindu. We are both Mexican-born. But the thing […]

Liberals can easily be racist, too

Vincent Zaal, Minneapolis, MN. We come from a very liberal area and are staunch liberals ourselves and yet in people’s attempts to “not be racist” they’re being extremely racist. Humans are different, get over it! Try thinking about “race” in the French adjective placement: “that human is black” rather “than that is a black human.” […]

Mexican but dont Speak Spanish, thats ok

Monique Martinez, Riverside, CA. I am half Mexican and half Filipino but everyone always thinks I am full Mexican. When they find out I am mixed, half the time they don’t believe me. Then when they find out I don’t speak Spanish, I get comments like “how do you not know Spanish, you not a […]

I find my identity in Christ

Janine D Herrera, Rancho Cucamonga, CA. When beginning this exercise, I almost regressed back to my old thinking habits. I came up with the six-word phrase, ‘English language no Spanish still Mexican.’ However, I realized I was going back to what I was delivered from. I used to struggle with my identity. I am Mexican […]

Fighting against being stereotyped.

Nichole Wesson, Long Beach, CA. I grew up what I believed to be middle-class in Dallas. I attended private, Catholic schools from kindergarten through 12-grade high school graduation. My high school class was 1/3 African-American, 1/3 white, 1/3 Mexican/Hispanic/Latino. I have done well in my career and recently returned to school to get my B.A. […]

Are you really even Greek?

Athena Scavo, Hornell, NY. I often get this question due to my name being of the Greek mythology background. Often, people assume that I am not Greek, but my parents liked the name or thought I was going to be tough or had some reason why I was named Athena. If you look at me, […]

Why Are We The Only White People?

Maureen Forster Philadelphia, PA I was maybe 6 yrs old when My Dad, Stepmother, older sister and older brother were in Baltimore on a little family trip. We stayed at a Holiday Inn or something along those lines and were out in the pool. I grew up in a small city with much diversity but […]

Finally I learned to accept myself

Katherine Porter, San Leandro, CA. I grew up disowned by my racial cultures…too different from White, too different from Chinese. Talked about by cousins, wondered about by strangers, eroticized by college boys, and discounted by the census. Always had to check “other” on the surveys. Felt like I had to be the best example of […]

Good hair is well maintained hair.

Jessica Elaine Burks, San Diego, CA. I am Black, Irish, and Native American. My paternal grandmother had straight long hair. My maternal grandmother had 4c textured hair. All my life I believed the myth that “good hair and long hair” do not belong to black women with 4C textured hair. My friends and even family […]

My name tells a great story.

Lise (rhymes with ‘please’), Austin, TX. My 6-word essay was originally “What kind of name is that?”– a question (both the polite and impolite versions) I’m regularly asked. My answer is something like this: “Well, my last name is Indian (yes, like from India)–sort of. My father’s family is from India, but the name changed […]

Saline Davidson: “You have released her.”

Tracey Hughes Kansas City, MO Saline Davidson is my 6th great-grandmother, who made herself known to me in November 2013 as part of my family history research. The journey to discover her since November has been amazing and intense, as evidenced by this recap of my latest discovery. More info: http://traceystree.blogspot.com/2014/01/saline-davidson-you-have-released-her.html

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 […]

Mom said I never saw color.

Corrine Ferrell-Macatee, Baltimore, MD. Me, bad bangs, my best friend, little girl with braids, my cousin, cute little Japanese girl. My nana and sister are here too, it wasn’t til I was in my early teens I even realized we weren’t all white, black or Japanese.

The Asian/Pacific Islander category is very enticing.

Cheryl Mercado Arnedt, West Orange, NJ. My grandmother and her sister — red-headed daughters of NYC cops — both married full Filipino men and were disowned. There was no race in our family – just rice AND potatoes at every meal. My grandfather “Pupa” intentionally didn’t pass down his Asian-ness or his language Tagalog so […]

Adobo Beef Stew Rice Potatoes: Dinner

James Estanislao Herr, Los Angeles, CA. Dad’s side came over in 1717–Swiss-German and Irish with some Danish and Greek thrown in. Mom came over in 1954. Filipino, Spanish and Chinese with I guess some Portuguese somewhere along the way given my middle name. Grew up in an all white community outside Philadelphia. Not sure who […]

Love Classical music and I’m black

Yolanda, Lithonia, GA. It’s very tiring an disappointing to hear many in my community say to me “You like white people stuff”. I would like to know exactly what’s classified as “White people stuff”. Since when did enjoying a good Opera or visiting the local symphony considered something only expected or FOR one race of […]

There is only one human race

Cynthia Calhoun, Covington, WA. As a white woman from a relatively red-neck area, I’ve struggled in confusion against the racism in myself and others. Now, my Kenyan daughter-in-law and black grandsons make me more aware than ever of how much racism is still out there and in me.

(Why are) My ancestors still effecting my life

Shaun Donovan, Wales. I hear people still talking about the past, still thinking like the past as if it were today . Everything we know and think is because of the social construct of what life should be.Isn’t it time for a new way of thinking and a new way of living.

Stop With The Cherokee Syndrome, Already

Jemmie Valencia, San Francisco, CA. Proudly that they are Cherokee and they know this because their great great grandmother had long black hair- was a Cherokee Princess, even!, when they find out that I am in fact from the Yurok Tribe of Northern California. With as many white folks out there wearing wolf, eagle, & […]

White Latino-Hispanic, Nonwhite Latino-Hispanic

Christina Curiel, Fallbrook, CA. In the early years of my life, I always saw myself as a very ‘lucky’ person. When I became older and learned about institutions, and methodology, and racial diversity, is when I learned that racism is indeed real, and still exists in this culture through conditioning as well as many other […]

My dad was born in Kenya (and he is not black)

Jess, Valencia, CA. My dad was born in Kenya. People then assume he is black, and I do not blame them. However, before I can get a word out and correct them, that he is white, they assume I am part black and look for those black features. I have had people say, “oh I […]

I want to help, not hurt.

Laura James, Mobile, AL. I want to be ok being white, but I’m not. I’ve been haunted for decades by a dream in which I was weighed in the balance and found wanting by a well-dressed group of African-American churchgoers.

How are you Latina and pale?

Christina K, Bayonne, NJ. I have always been asked how I can be a Latina with olive skin tone? If my dad is brown and my mom is pale why aren’t I a medium skin tone? I do not “look like a Latina” so many people have said? To take a page from the Selena […]

Love My Backgrounds, But Spirit First.

Sun Absy, Omaha, NE. My family is incredibly diverse, racially, culturally and religiously. I feel fortunate to have spent a life within environments where peoples’ superficial traits aren’t the focus. An aspect of overcoming racism and prejudices is learning to let go of categories and labels and to stop (whomever you are and whatever group […]

Some see me as an Oppressor

Adrian S. Bennett Bremerton, MA I am dedicated to Equality for all persons and the values that make up Diversity. As I journey through my career as an Equal Opportunity Adviser and an Equal Employment Opportunity Specialist and Program Analyst, my hardest realization has been that some people will always see me as an oppressor… […]

I will never really ‘get it’.

Celia Beasley, Seattle, WA. Being an upper-middle class white woman, I know I will never truly understand what it feels like to be a person of color in America. Despite my attempts to be aware of racism in this county through conversations, news stories, interviews, books, this website, etc, I know that I will never […]

Wrong race, Wrong day for fun

Reginald Leroy Johnson, Randallstown, MD. On my birthday in June 1963 my mother decided to take me to Gwynn Oak Amusement Park as birthday gift… We rode on the #28 bus…leaving the city the air was so sweet and clean, I saw ducks, and trees. I was so overwhelmed by this beauty…that I thought we […]

Yes, I was born in America

Yonah Vang, Fresno, CA. Most of the time in high school, students who are not Asian are really confused. They can not understand that the Hmong ethnicity is a type of Asian. They also constantly assume that I was born in a different country.

We matter because of our SOULS

Briah Stokes, Baltimore, MD. My race nor sexuality should be an excuse to judge me. At the end of the day, our souls are our substance, our physical beings are just vessels that give our souls a home.

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 – […]

The Racist Salesman

Sam Smith, Stafford, TX. Ya I figured that would catch people off guard. I’ve been a salesperson now for about 10 years in Houston. Love the city and the culture, made a pretty good career out of it too. I’ve sold cars and motorcycles for a living. One thing I will readily acknowledge is I’m […]

I am not your curiosity game.

Victoria, Salem, OR. As a biracial person, people often ask me, “what ethnicity are you?” – aka what race can I define you as? People who first meet me will ask me this question without ever asking for my name. They seem to only care about what I am not who I am. However, I […]

Six humans running Lincoln Memorial steps

Nancy Eliot Corrsin, Baltimore, MD. Somewhere in Japan is a snapshot of a black man, an oriental man, and a white man galloping down the Lincoln Memorial steps arm-in-arm with three wildly various white women, one petite in shorts and dark braids, one sleepy-eyed blonde earth-mother, and me in bib-front overalls. I think we all […]

My ancestors passed. Their history: invisible.

Margaret Angela Thomas Chatsworth, GA I’m the descendant of a runaway slave who passed as Latin and was beaten to death by a slavecatcher, other runaways who moved to Indian Territories to pass for Cherokee, and a trafficked Chinese woman. I look Scotch-Irish and have a huge red vascular birthmark. I live with color bigotry […]

Imagine not meeting strangers with guns.

Daniel Knoll, Saint Louis, MO. These may or may not represent how I feel about race,,,I am in Missouri, and grew up in the town right next to Ferguson..i am a white guy, but the adopted son of a Native American (full Cherokee) mother, and German -American father…not to minimize the legitimacy of the real […]

Oh, so you speak Russian, right?

Sonja Racquel Bradley, Flagler Beach, FL. When I was a child, I confess that I hated my name. Of all the ‘s’ names my parents could have picked, why this one? Why not Sabrina, or Sasha? At the very least, they could have utilized the “normal, American” way of spelling it: Sonia or Sonya. But […]