My shopping bags don’t get checked.

Ashley Cooper Hair, Washington,DC. Georgetown Day School In the town where I went to high school, the privilege I felt was one of class. There were almost no people of color. Living in Washington, DC, I feel my white privilege constantly. Not only am I not followed around Best Buy, my shopping bags are never […]

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My hair: bane of my existence

Laura Abercrombie, Mulberry, FL. I am a 27 year old biracial (mother black, father Russian and Romanian Jewish descent) woman. I was born and raised in NY, transplanted to rural Fl when I was a teen. I am also one of Jehovah’s witnesses. Basically, I’m very used to being on the fringes, the “token”, the […]

Just what do you people eat?

Judith A Harper, Pikesville, MD. Years ago our family integrated a Predominantly Jewish neighborhood in New Haven, Connecticut. I am African-American. While walking our German shepherd, I was approached by an elderly woman who asked if she could ask a ‘personal’ question. It was the question submitted. For a moment, I was speechless, but then […]

Hispanic or Latino? I feel American

Hector Vargas, Grand Rapids, MI. I grew up on the east coast. The high school I attended was primarily populated by minorities. My mother is Mexican and my biological father is Brazilian. My mother remarried and i was raised with Mexican customs. On the East cost I was considered Latino, in the mid west I […]

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Stop thinking the phrase “Those People.”

Tom Woodworth, Chicago, IL. I was never a bigot (I would like to claim), but a disturbing epiphany came when I realized my troubled personal relations were much my fault, due to my blaming it on “how those people are,” overgeneralizations I just had, just absorbed somehow, somewhere, and never been caused to question before.

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Your hair’s pretty. What are you?

Renee Bracey Sherman. Oakland, CA. “Can I touch your hair?” they ask, hand already extended, a mere inch from my thick brown curls. I feel invaded. Living as a biracial woman isn’t the easiest thing in the world. People come up to me with an inquisitively tilted head and say “What are you?” If I […]

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Race matters I wish it didn’t.

Vicki Meek, Dallas, TX. As a child of civil/human rights activists, I’ve spent my life fighting for social justice. I must admit, I never expected to see an African American head our country and was elated when President Obama won the 2008 Presidential election. But I am a realist and so I knew this supposed […]

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Afraid of Not Being “Asian” Enough

Gwyn, Chicago, IL. My Dad was born in Japan to a Caucasian Father and a Japanese mother. He moved to America with his father and siblings and unfortunately had to leave his mother behind. He no longer speaks Japanese, but he still holds his heritage very dear to him, placing various objects from Japan around […]

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“Does he know,” Nana asks, worriedly?

Liz Pryor, Northampton, MA. Smith College. My mother was white. So was her whole family. After my husband, who is white, proposed, my grandmother cornered my cousin and asked “Does he know about Elizabeth?” My cousin asked back, “Does he know what?” and my grandmother answered, “That she’s Black.”

Even a poor conversation beats silence.

Nicholas Howe, Northhampton, MA. Smith College I attended a mixed-race suburban public high school in Connecticut, where I competed on both the swim team and the track team in the late 80’s. Only one member of the swim team was African American, and his race was the elephant in the room that nobody would talk […]

My Obaa is Japanese – I’m not.

Livia Messenger, Northhampton, MA. Smith College Before I told you my grandmother was from Japan, I wasn’t Asian to you. I’m white. I don’t speak Japanese. I’ve never been to Japan, worn a kimono, or even met my Japanese relatives. I flunked out of calculus – but I suppose my “white side” was holding the […]

My Full-time Job: Being Black

Jessica, Taunton, MA. Being Black in America means that you constantly have to change and work on yourself in order to please the dominant group in society (Whites). Its about making them feel comfortable and at ease even if that means rejecting your culture, traditions, ancestry, and basically everything that makes you who you are […]

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Speak if silence is a privilege.

Annie Berman, Northhampton, MA. Smith College This is what it means to be a good ally. It is not POC’s job to be the only ones constantly asserting that their lives matter. Silence can be a powerful tool of resistance and empowerment, but not when white people who think race does not concern them choose […]

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My husband and I won it.

Victoria True, Bethesda, MD. 15 years of my Miscegenated marriage have come and gone. I married a man who is beyond color blind. Case in point, I came by his place 1 month before we were getting married, and joked there are xxx,xx1 inter-racial couples in the US, and on June 12th there will be […]

What did we lose becoming white?

Rosa Friedman, Philadelphia, PA. My grandparents came to this country as children of Jewish families from eastern Europe. In order to become accepted as part of the racial elite and gain access to white privilege, they had to leave behind the things that distinguished them, their culture, language, and values. Now there is a hole […]

I pass, but I can understand.

Kira Henstenburg, Washington, DC. Mixed race Russian-Kazakh. Adopted. I’m not considered “asian enough” to be invited to anime conventions. I’m not comfortable taking a strong stance on race in class discussions because I’m considered white. I’m told I “look a lot like my father.” If I say I was born in Russia, people assume my […]

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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 […]

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Stop using RACE as an excuse.

Renee Chapman, Colbert, WA. I have seen race used as an excuse for bad behavior or saying something is happening to someone because they are Mexican, Asian, and Black etc. I had a personal experience with it when neighbors aggressive Rottweiler killed my 6 mo. old puppy, police were called and neighbor was really angry. […]

10 Mile Move Flipped the Grid

Tessa D, Chicopee, MA. As a young child, we moved from a mostly black neighborhood to a nearly all white suburb. The background music of my life changed. There really wasn’t any background music anymore. The neighbor kids who came to visit were no longer just the neighbor kids. Judgement and difference took on meaning, […]

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Is my color who I am?

Lora-Ellen McKinney, Renton, WA. I am not my color, though I am in some ways what my color represents in America. I am, by this definition, an African American first because this what people see. I also identify with African American history, culture, family structure and faith practices. But alone in my house where I […]

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Who are your ancestors. Be honest.

Alison Bailey, Bloomington, IL. Yes. I’ve been able to find out who my 3d greatgrandmother is until recently. She was the bastard child of Joseph C. Van Mater, or “Big Joe,” as he was called. The Van Mater family were early settlers in Monmouth County, New Jersey. Big Joe was the largest slave holder north […]

Underpaid? Overworked? Frustrated? NOW imagine slavery.

John Leo, Sag Harbor, NY. This may be redundant since the release of and discussion about Twelve Years a Slave, but for many years I’ve seen and heard people complain about bosses and working conditions and I’ve empathized. But I’ve also reflected on how these modern days woes compare to SLAVERY. Being the property of […]

Not Asian, nor American, but Asian-American.

Margaret Lin, Houston, TX. Although ethnically Asian, I stick out like a sore thumb in Asia. When I visited China last summer, my mother told me that everyone there could tell I wasn’t raised in China. Perhaps it was the way I dressed, or my heavy accent when I attempted speaking Chinese, or how my […]

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Black mother. White baby. Didn’t matter.

Christine Mitchell, Reading, PA. I’m a black woman married to a white man but still, imagine my surprise in the delivery room when my baby came out white. Not “white” like black babies are often very light skinned until their color comes in, but white. They put our bracelets on so our babies wouldn’t get […]

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I am a consciously recovering racist.

Roxanne Darling, Haiku, HI. It’s my personal belief that it’s incredibly challenging to not be racist, regardless of one’s race. Not wanting to be, think, or act racist is not the same as not being racist. So I hereby present myself as a work in progress, as I unplug decades (centuries?) of neurological programming that […]

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You must be Cuban or something.

Jesse Hernandez-Oliver, Modesto, CA. I’m Mexican, African and Native American (Apache and Cherokee soecifically) with ringlet curled hair that resembles finger waves of the 1920s when brushed. Growing up I remember everyone always asking to touch my hair. I can speak some Spanish too so that also through people off,which I always found to be […]

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You have a black girl’s hair

Lauren, Fairpoint, NY. I was required to do this for a MSW course on ethnic diversity. As a white, Italian-American woman, it was very difficult for me to think of an example of a racial micro-aggression that I have experienced. I have coarse, curly black hair. The statement was meant to be an insult.

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Racism is an ego-based human dysfuntion

James E Washington, Rochester, NY. The ego thrives on identification and separation. We seems to be a nation that thrives on dualism, having an “other” a “they or them” as a means to distinguish ourselves from. White, Black; Rich, Poor: Republican, Democrat; Christian, Jewish; Fat, Skinny; on and on. The problem appears to be “ego […]

Racists Are Not Always Bad People

Michael Havis, Brooklyn, NY. I think the word racism no longer defines the conversation we should be having. The image of racism in America is of the KKK or southern slave owners with whips. Being racist and being a good person are not mutually exclusive. Racism today isn’t being a part of lynch mobs or […]

Can I color Barbie’s skin brown?

Heather Dalby, Baltimore, MD. My Little was 9 years old when she asked me this question while we colored with crayons. She is a brilliant character with an abundance of self confidence, so her question surprised me. Her family is from everywhere; the US, Great Britain, and the Caribbean to name a few. Her skin […]