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 [...]
Karen Sturdivant, Lansing, MI. When it comes to matters of race- Stevie Wonder can be seen as the great equalizer. His messages in song are universal and his soul is colorless.
Sharon Bandlow, Haslett, MI. I loved hearing you speak at The Wharton Center on the MSU campus. Best wishes with your project!
E.C. Boyd, Canton, OH. I was not born, but I was raised in a predominantly white neighborhood because the school system was better in Perry Township than the low-income, mostly black Canton City Schools. As the only black person on my school’s debate team, I dealt with a lot of people surprised that I could [...]
Holly Wenninger, Malden, MA. I’m white, but for the past six or so years I’ve worked out at n athletic center whose focus is primarily on the POC community — so when I’m there, I’m usually the only white person in the room. A couple unanticipated side effects of this are (a) now when I [...]
Anderson Brown, Jacksonville, FL.
Kevin Moses, Logan, UT. As a 6’3″, young, Black man, at all times I am painfully aware of my presence in a room and the constant strain of worrying about being perceived as threatening is exhausting. I’m incredibly friendly, and the dissonance that comes from people assuming otherwise hurts.
Debra Cope, Alexandria, VA. Adoption is beautiful, and I really don’t mind helping others navigate the awkward preconceptions that accompany it. But this phrase just burns me because it equates my spunky, lively child with an object . She’s not my toy — she’s my daughter!
Tania Rose, San Francisco, CA. Super-cool, interesting, important, vital conversation. Thank you.
Lauren Maldonado, Athens, GA. I’m white, I know that. But, I have no idea what race I am. I can’t include myself in a certain group. I cannot sympathize with a certain group of people and I cannot judge a group of people because I might be the same race as they are. I’m in [...]
Anastasia Peterson, Pittsburgh, PA.
Michelle, Norfolk, VA. When I tell people my father is from Denmark most people in America always ask me why my hair is not blond. Scandinavians have just as many different natural hair colors as they do blond.
Kelsi Evans, Williamsburg, VA. Growing up in society I have always been questioned about my race. I come from two very, very light-skinned African-American parents, so therefore I am very light, have soft curly “white people” hair, and don’t necessarily “talk black”. Being this kind of person draws attention to myself because people always make [...]
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 [...]
King Kellz, Fayetteville, NC. We only learn what America has taught us about our specific race.
Jasmine Baker East Lansing, MI Growing up I was placed in the gifted and talented program in my elementary school. I learned to speak what this society refers to as “proper English.” Because of that, many Black students would tease me and tell me that I’m black, stop talking like a white girl. What does [...]
Denali Lukacinsky, Honolulu, HI. People look at me and assume all kinds of offensive things about what black people are supposed to be like, they come up to me and explain all the ways that I’m “different”, and “better” and “not like them.” Well guess what, I am like them. Don’t lift me up by [...]
Bria Williams, Keswick, VA.
Cameron McCall, Fontana, CA. The reason I choose these six words is because I don’t like how I am stereotyped to be un-educated and ghetto. I am a proud African American male in college and I am proud of the proper english that I use.
Silvija Singh, Pittsburgh, PA. Unlike my sibs, I do not look white, altho I have a white mother. I do not get treated like a Latvian, the way the blond-haired blue-eyed cousins on this side of the family do. Complexion-wise, I look more like my father, who was from India. But among Indians, I am [...]
Briana Duarte, Albuquerque, NM.
Basmin, St. Louis, MO. This question has been asked since I began my earthwalk as though I am something other than human, that I don’t fit recognizable category. As a woman of color in seeking healing for my racial wounds I embraced my spiritual nature, cultivated peace within and embraced each who breathes as a [...]
Isaiah Spencer, Pittsburgh, PA.
Abigail Macy, Zimbabwe. I am a white American living in Zimbabwe. It never ceases to amaze me how much racism I experience, how much prejudice there is against white people. It bothers me that things such as a dance are classified as “white” or “black”. I hear things like, “Oh, you can’t do that, you’re [...]
James Moore, Sterling, VA. No one told me when I adopted my baby girl that I was no longer white. I had to find out the hard way. One friend at a time. Sadly.
Lynne Shotola, Waukegan, IL. I’m a white woman. It was a Sunday night right after Ferguson. I had spent a host, sticky day doing chores. When I went to take the used cat litter out to the dumpster, I very obviously swerved out of the path of a black man. All I could think was [...]
Benjamin F Friton, Brandywine, MD.
Michael Ponsler, Brooklyn, NY. I’ve enjoyed an extremely diverse social life, dated & married interracially and on countless occasions have been the only white person within a crowd, community or family gathering. I have never been harassed, harmed or threatened by a person of another race. However, I have been rejected, assaulted and/or threatened several [...]
James Ducey, Loves Park, IL. When I watched #AfterFergusonPBS I couldn’t help but come to your project. Keep up the good work. Thanks for your efforts.
Ryan Mearig, Fountain Valley, CA. School does a great job of giving you the surface level depiction of slavery. It took 22 years to learn that every foreign race was oppressed, and that we thought it was ok.
Nzingha Shakur-Ali, Dallas, TX. First week of college, 1999, Abilene Texas. went to an off the way antique shop. The store owner didn’t want me there, and let me know it. About 5 other people in the store, all white, glaring at me.
Unique Martin, Murrieta, CA. I say I’m black because that is how I identify myself. It’s just that simple. I say I’m beautiful because for many years in my childhood, I thought I was ugly. No one ever said I was, but how I was treated, discriminated against because of my skin color, the diversity [...]
Riley Redman, Pittsburgh, PA.
Juan Carlos Quevedo, Albuquerque, NM.
Denise Noboa, Norfolk, VA.
R. Johnson Jackson, MS I love this place I call home because my family’s roots are strong here; however, it seems like the more things change, the more they stay the same! #WHATTHEHELLISGOINGONANDDOESANYBODYELSENOTICE?
Chiyoko, USA. I am one quarter Japanese. I have auburn hair, light brown eyes, and freckles. I am five foot nine, and my skin is paler than even my white friends’ skin. But my name is Japanese, which leads people to ask me where I’m from, no, where I’m REALLY from. I’ve been called J*p, [...]
Matthew Scotti, Pittsburgh, PA.
Anne Decker, Virginia Beach, VA.
Paula Gaehring, Haddon Heights, NJ. Have taught in Philadelphia and now have students from Camden, NJ. So few of them have good male role models in their lives. Most are raised by moms and grandmoms doing their best but it is not the same as having dads, granddads and uncles in their lives. I wish [...]
Makaela Powell, Parker, CO.
Khalil B., American Canyon, CA.
Anna Hill, Dallas, TX. I assist Hispanic school children with their homework after school. They bring their issues to me and the majority are black educators making differences between black children and Mexican children.
Lauren McEnerney, Norfolk, VA. ODU
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 [...]
Maggy Wolf, New Orleans, LA. Other than voting my liberal conscience and trying to be extra kind and generous to black people I meet in my daily life, I feel helpless to make any significant difference. How can one person help the poor, the disenfranchised, the under-educated escape from the cycle of poverty?
Brian Beauchaine, Valparaiso, IN. If 100 good deeds are done in a day, 1 of them MIGHT be reported on by the media. But, if 1 questionable deed is done, 100% will be reported on. That’s what sells.
Karen Fritts, USA. We talk and talk about race, but most of us stay in their own corners during the discussion. We cannot begin to understand each other from a distance. We cannot begin to trust one another without understanding. Are you willing to foster a friendship with someone different…a friendship that you are comfortable [...]
Kaylin Jorgensen, St.Paul, MN. I chose these words on more of a personal level but, a lot of people do not believe me when I tell them I am Native American. People assume that the color tone of your skin defines you. When in reality you are who you are no matter what your skin [...]
Je Jack Vang, St. Paul, MN. When people see Hmong people the only thing they think of us is either Chinese or Japanese. It’s like our race has been deleted out of the world.
Val Andrew, Overland, MO. My parents taught us early on to accept all people and invited international college students of different races, religions, and nationalities to stay with us during holidays. During the Vietnam War we hosted an AFS student from Vietnam for a year. I grew up a few miles from Ferguson and taught [...]
Alexandra Gradwell, Pittsburgh, PA. I come from a mostly white town and have heard that many of my friends have heard this from their parents as they go off to college.
Lizbeth Rosas Real, St. Paul, MN.
Roberta Smith, Boston, MA. During the conversation, once the white guy spoke about self responsibility a lot of black people were visibly upset and I feel, most black people in the audience stopped listening because they were “offended”. The black rapper basically encouraged black people NOT to get involved in government. What if Obama felt [...]
Anonymous, Summerdale, AL. To fully understand the reasons why race is such a hot button topic in my opinion,is that one must look at the historical basis that set the foundation for the racial discord in this country and beyond its shores.We will never be able to get beyond race until we are truly able [...]
Michael Bowser, Baltimore, MD. I found that there is no time in my day to hate or dislike another human being, regardless of race, color, or creed. I believe this behavior is instilled in many through others at a young age, and before the individual has the opportunity to make rational decisions for themselves.
Michele Malmstrom, Charlottesville, VA. My daughter has always had very low self-esteem. I tried her entire life to address the problem by complimenting her and giving her the tools for building her confidence: cello lesson, in which she excelled, girl scouts where she achieved the silver award, college educated with a B.A. and at 24 [...]
James W. Smith, Southport, NC. UNTIL BLACKS STOP BELIEVING THE VICTIM INDUSTRY MESSAGE, CHAMPIONED BY MILLIONARE SPOKESMEN AS JESSIE JACKSON AND AL SHARPTON THEY WILL ALWAYS LAG BEHIND OTHER MINORITIES WHO KNOW THAT ADVANCEMENT DEPENDS ON PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY AND HARD WORK.
Theresa Stevens, Cincinnati, OH.
Katie Rotondo, El Segundo, CA. I’ve been learning a lot about race and ethnicity lately. Looking back, it bothers me how many times I was asked what ethnicity I am, responding by saying I am Italian, and getting the famous saying, “But you don’t look Italian!” This is a daily response. Just because I don’t [...]
Leslie Cole, Lake Worth, FL.
Kari Pennington, Chicago, IL. I never have to worry that my brothers, my husband, or my white friends will be violently harassed, assaulted, or killed by the police, the court system, neighborhood watch vigilanties, or any other person or institutions. It happens so rarely to white men that those fears for their safety never keep [...]
Barbara Young, Stockton, CA. I’ve realized my own white privilege for some time now. But being the white female half of an interracial marriage, I suddenly experience America in a new frightening way. My husband is a 6’4″ 300 lb black man. I have a plan worked out in my mind of how I can [...]
Julianna, Seattle, WA. I have wished I was biracial everyday so I could better help with the issues. How can I help now?
Kitra Mwania, Branson, MO. The confederate flag clearly means something important to the people around here. Being a black person who learned that this flag represented slavery and injustice makes me nervous about why this flag is an accessory.
Gregory S. Carr, St. Louis, MO. Thank you for this forum. It provides a valuable platform for ongoing dialogue.
Kirk Fortune, St. Louis, MO. Recognizing the humanity of each other below our differences is our greatest and most important challenge for each of us.
Anonymous, USA. I’ve witnessed several other whites that have had similar experiences of being beaten or bullied by blacks, throughout my life. I’ve witnessed much more racism towards whites than the other way around. Some people say it’s racist to be afraid of blacks. Where I grew up, it’s just common sense. This was not [...]
Candice Pipes, Monument, CO.
Guinevere, Oklahomoa City, OK.
Mike Padden, Chicago, IL. The conversation would be much if improved if the inflammatory and innacurate term “racism” were substituted with the much more accurate and potentially productive term “prejudice”.
Francis Skony, Chicago, IL. Being an almost 40 year old man from Chicago, I’ve always grown up with a melting pot of friends, acquaintances, co-workers. I do not judge anyone by their race – I will have an opinion based on how some present themselves to the world. If you have no respect and no [...]
Arlinda Vaughn, Dayton, OH. My partner is a tall, dark muscular black man (with a PHD). When he lived in Texas, the police arrived at a gas station that he was in and tased him 8 times without warning or discussion. My brother (with a degree) has been regularly pulled over. Once, a police officer [...]
Ellesha Wanigasekera, Canada.
Stan Sankey, Federal Way, WA. While liking all my black friends, many on the national scene are trouble makers. The country is more divided than in many years under Obama and Holder.
Anonymous, Lansing, MI. Was this meant to be a compliment? …it didn’t feel like a compliment.
Lawrence Cohen, Long Beach, CA.
Kathleen E Lo Pinto Vignolini, Long Branch, NJ. No other group, except maybe the Jews, have had such a long period of discrimination against them. From Slavery, to post Civil war (the North won the battle, but lost the war!) of Jim Crow, “separate but equal” led to Segregation both de facto & legalized, all [...]
Joshua Godhart, Woodland Hills, CA. I just feel really sad for a people that feel so dirty inside that they have to oppress every race they come in contact with since history began. Racism is a really sad legacy to leave.
Kelly Blount, Snohomish, WA. If you live in the U.S.A. Your an American. Not African American, not Asian American, Irish American, etc. Once everyone believes that it would help a lot.
Daniel Escalante, Taos, NM. These six words are coming from a person of color to a white person who says, “I feel guilty about what my ancestors did to create racist institutions and systems. ” And, I feel that you blame me for what they did”.
David Evans, Seattle, WA. People equate young black gang members with crime and trouble… I was watching the PBS special and when the young black guys were speaking I felt they were in gangs and up to no good. You need to change the image of the young male black gang image or you will [...]
Randa New, Hillsboro, OR. While passing blacks walking on the sidewalk black adult looks away while their child will smile back at me. How can I connect with them when they look away?
Yessica Guarin Arias, Boston, MA. Yes, I don’t have the same accent as the actors and actresses on TV. The reason to why is because they were born in a specific part of the country in which I am not from. However, people only hear these people speaking “Colombian Spanish”. When in reality Colombia has [...]
Tim, Zeeland, MI. Some times i just think, “maybe if I smile they wont do any thing”, I feel so bad for even doing that. I should smile and be happy to smile, there people to so why don’t you smile at them like you do to your best friends. Think, what would you do [...]