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 […]

“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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

Not as white as I appear.

Susi Matthews, Kansas City, MO. I am 1/4 Navajo plus Cherokee and Mohawk. I am also English, Irish, Scots and German. I LOOK white; my full sister looks Native. I experienced the reactions she got when we were kids on vacation. A small restaurant in Colorado thought she was Native America and refused to serve […]

I don’t know my Native language.

Jessica Elaine Matz, LaVergne, TN. I look white and I was raised white, but when we were kids, we went to the occasional pow wow and were told “this is part of your heritage.” My uncle recently joined one of the Cherokee tribes, but I haven’t yet. I feel weird about it because there’s so […]

White and some kind of Asian

Miles Foltynowicz, Edwardsville, IL. I’ve dealt with racial ambiguity most of life. It is not uncommon for someone to ask me, “What are you?” in reference to my race/ethnicity without explicitly saying so. Others play the Asian guessing game: Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean et cetera. If you are hoping I will reveal my proud ethnic heritage […]

Trust me, I’m not a stereotype.

Jazmine McKinney, Winter Garden, FL. Yes, I am black. No I am not angry. I actually smile all the time, and I get odd looks because of it. I guess I don’t act like people think black girls should act? Yes, I love Disney. I honestly don’t like rap music all that much. I love […]

Hated for being a white cop.

Brett Maisel Nacogdoches, TX As a young, naive police officer I mistakenly thought most people would appreciate my sincere desire to help and protect the citizens of my community. I was shocked to find out that some people (who didn’t even know my name, background or what was in my heart) hated the very sight […]

I’m white. How can I help?

Anne Huntemer, Sonora, CA. Coming from a place of privilege, how can I help welcome and fight for my friends of color? I know I haven’t experienced what you have, but I’m here to support you in any way I can.

Why my kids are the minority

Tara Jackson, MS They go to the highest scoring elementary school in the state of Mississippi which happens to be 98% African- American. My kids are white and they don’t care about skin color and because of their school probably never will, I hope.

“Puro Mestizo”: Each, either. Both. Neither.

Gil L. Pettigrew, MS Miami, FL I am a university science instructor, science educator, naturalist, scientist & author based in culturally diverse South Florida who is not only proud but smug about my my multitribal, multiethnic (Creek-CherokeeXCeltic-AfricanAmerican-Latin-French) Indigenous American heritage.

Don’t ask why families don’t match

Alicia Barnes, Starkville, MS. Shared race is not a qualifier of being a mother to a child. Some of us birth kids who don’t look like us, and it’s hurtful for people to question our status. When I saw people trying to figure out if a white mother with brown daughters had adopted them, I […]

Invisible lines drawn with invisible ink

Tess Aaronson, Worcester, MA. I am a race that is not connected to a skin color. Races and cultures are not defined by an individual identifier, but by multiple shadowy characteristics that stereotype. One or many, no matter the amount of signifiers, lines have been drawn for me: who I am and who I am […]

I wish I wasn’t so afraid

Travos MS For the most part I if I see someone of a different race I don’t know I get really scared and nervous…as in, more afraid than I already would be! I guess I’d like to be friends with a lot of different people, all it takes is hello, right? But I hate that […]

Yankee child crossed South’s colorline. Paid.

Rebekah Bickford, Baldwin, ME. My white family moved from Indiana to Mississippi in 1977, when I was 8 years old. Our family was seen as “Northern Yankees” and we were not welcomed by many in the white community. The black children were kind to me when I entered school and quickly became my friends. I […]

Speak Spanish? You don’t look “Mexican.”

Kristiane Valenza, Vicksburg, MS. After moving to rural Mississippi from New York to teach Spanish at the high school level, I’m frequently met with confusion as to how I have an “ethnic” name and can teach Spanish, but I have fair skin and European features. When people ask me, “Are you from Vicksburg?” they really […]

This big chip hurts my back.

BURTON DAVIS PRICE Greenwood, MS Becoming a black professional gives one a large chip on their shoulder. This chip can be so heavy at times that it makes your life miserable. You always question other peoples actions towards you, which can make you paranoid.

Blacks are more racist than whites

Anonymous, Jackson, MS. Dissatisfied with black racism. But we never want to talk about it, and when blacks are tyrannically racist against white people, we just act like it’s no big deal. Black people today were not slaves, and no one I repeat NO ONE is stopping them from succeeding except themselves…but they want to […]

She’s White in a Black body….

Cooper Shell, Jackson, TN. She’s White in a Black Body….. That is what has ALWAYS been said to describe me—since I was at least 12 years old. My name is Cooper Shell, and I grew up in Choctaw County, MS. I hail from a blended family which is very typical in my town. I suppose […]

Racial stereotypes…killing mankind…hearts blind?

Amber Jackson Baswell, Columbus, MS. As a military brat I was naïve, sheltered. It was only when my father was stationed in the deep South that “RACE” entered my vocabulary. I was shocked as a 15 year old (back in ’95) to see that churches, schools, hangouts, even the local beauty pageants were segregated! Blew […]

All eyes on a black boy

Darius Tornes, Jackson, MS. Every time I go to the store people be keep on eye on me. They follow me around. I’m just trying to buy some now or laters. The people who work at the store tell me to take out my pockets to see if I’m trying to steal things. I even […]

“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 […]

This sideboard was built by slaves

Peter Seay, St. Louis, MO. After my grandparents past away, we inherited a sideboard which promptly found its home in our dining room. As it came into our home, it was shared with me that the piece was built in the early 19th century by slaves in Mississippi. The sideboard was my first real knowledge […]

Interculturalist. Asian-American. Woman. Mother. Writer.

Jennifer Ghymn, Wyomissing, PA. The individual filters of race, ethnicity, society and family impact the way we interact and engage with the world to shape a personal cultural identity. I believe people should follow their curiosity, be open to new concepts and challenge themselves by looking at things from a different perspective. Race is a […]

You’re such a white girl

Madison Schweizer, Murrieta, CA. Lately, more and more people have been making comments about me and my friends being “white girls”. We walked into our bible study to a bunch of girls who spoke Spanish and immediately felt like the minority. We felt even more like the minority when one of the girls said that […]

Yes I’m Black, but not angry

Ellise, Riverside, CA. My race is not what you see, It is what I feel. Do not let your stereotypes fool you, I am happy, beautiful, and peaceful about who I am. I use to be angry with who I was. I have been told “I was pretty for a black girl” all my life. […]

My ethnicity isn’t based off stereotypes

Alexia, Deltona, FL. My heritage, culture, ethnicity etc. does not pertain to the stereotypes that spill from the mouth of a privileged man. For I am man as well, I am not a “lazy immigrant, job stealer, mutant to society”. Pay your taxes then we can maturely discuss how reality works.

“You look white”, erases my father.

Janaki Kuruppu Rockville, MD As a child, my skin was darker and my hair frizzier, thanks to the genetic contribution of my father who was from Sri Lanka. As I’ve aged, I’ve come to resemble my white American mother more and more, Since my father died when I was 19, every time someone brings to […]

Lincoln Memorial with Ace. I understand.

Jonny Cecka, Richmond, VA. I have always had progressive attitudes about equality and so-called “race,” but visiting the Lincoln Memorial with my adopted 13-year-old son, Ace, was profoundly moving and made me understand the sacrifices of Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Jr., and countless others in a deep, personal way.

You can’t be mixed your dark

Myla Ledesma, Westbloomfield, MI. My mother is African American and my father is Puerto Rican. Me and all my siblings are biracial, we all look alike the only difference is their light skin and I’m brown skin. We all have medium length hair. Anytime I’m with them we get ask are we mixed and when […]

Mexican Irish Girl: agnostic and dry

Joan Socorro Sullivan, Minneapolis, MN. I’m a quarter Mexican and over half Irish, I don’t attend church and I don’t drink. My hair is dark brown, my eyes are blue, I freckle like no one’s business; there’s the black Irish. My hips and bosom refuse to fit in anything smaller than a medium since I […]

Latinas with fros are sexy too!

Jeanette Ruiz, Atlanta, GA. Growing up I learned to hate my afro hair. I was the only one in my family with course African hair texture. Although there were others in our Hispanic neighborhood with course hair and dark skin, my mother with straight silky hair made it seem like a problem. She would take […]

Hispanic Guy Trying To Fit In

Cesar Bazo, Auburn, AL. I know deep inside myself that I belong to a minority group here in the United States. I am a Peruvian living in Alabama. However, the fact that I belong to a minority group does not make me feel inferior or less likely to succeed. On the contrary, I believe this […]

Please, Listen to my story first!

Clemen W. DSM, IA Many people look at me and/or hear my accent and immediately create a full story about me in their minds. They react and act according to what they’ve assumed about me (Based in their own stereotypes). Please, listen to my story first. You might be surprised with who I am, what […]

My white girl braids ignited confusion.

Nicolette, Alpine, WY. “You’re not black.” “No, I’m not.” “Then why do you have black-girl hair?” “I just like braids, that’s all.” When I had my white-girl hair professionally braided by an African hairstylist from Togo, I never expected I would lead people to such confusion. Why did I do it? I just like braids. […]

Sir, please take your “hat” off

Jasneet Kaur Palaha, Ann Arbor, MI. University of Michigan. Sikhism, a monotheistic religion from Northern India believes the idea of simplicity, therefore requiring to never cut your hair, along with other requests. Men usually tie their hair neatly in a turban, whereas girls commonly let it down. Wherever we were, my father would be frisked […]

No one knows unless I tell

Natasha Smith, Philadelphia, PA. I am white. I look white. I am white? Pale skin, red frizzy hair, littered with freckles. Often I am asked “Are you Irish?” The answer is “No…” and I wonder if it is the time to go into my family’s racial identity or my own struggles with my racial identity. […]

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 […]

Color blind…more than a dream?

Michael H Chicago, IL I grew up listening to Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy talk about their dream of a society that one day would be “color blind”. Forty years later, I feel like we’re as far as ever from that goal. In fact, I suspect most Americans would prefer to perpetuate the distinctions […]

You should go to trade school.

Charles Dirden Little Rock, AR During the first year that schools were integrated this is what my white counselor told me. It hurt my feelings so bad because I had dreams of being a scientist. I ended up being a lawyer.

No, I don’t tan or perm.

Daniela Charlotte, NC Some people look puzzled when I say I am half Japanese. They tend to ask me if I perm my hair or go tanning because typically Japanese females have pin straight hair and fair skin. However they don/t seem to pay attention when I say HALF Japanese (I am also half Peruvian).

It’s okay to be black, Promise

Maureen Shaw, Durham, NC. Thank you for doing this. This is a photo of my mother’s family, this is the reason why I wrote it’s okay to be black. I look at it an feel so proud of this photo. We let ourselves believe we are a people are people with shattered history. I’ve discovered […]

Scared that we are not enough

Tanya, Manakin Sabot, VA. My (adopted) son is biracial, his bio-father is unknown. I will never be able to connect him with his biological African American family. There is a void that I will never be able to fill for him . This breaks my heart as his mama.

Your family isn’t your “real” family

Anonymous, Des Moiones, IA. Drake University This is what my mom was told in 1954 when social services came into her home and removed her and all of her siblings from her mom. At that time they were truly poor and were having a hard time finding enough food to eat. Her mother had a […]

All races in family equals love

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 […]

Norwegian with nappy hair doesn’t fit.

WilmaS, Seattle, WA. If I had a dollar for every time I was asked if my sons were adopted…It’s happened a lot. A complete stranger approaches my family, usually in a grocery store or some other public location, and compliments me on my family. “Your sons are so handsome,” the person will say, and by […]

None of us can define equality

Kennedy, KS. I truly think each person’s definition of equality would vary from one another in any given circumstance depending on their bias. We all know it means that everyone should be treated equally but it’s hardly represented. It’s honestly almost impossible for things to be equal. It goes along with the whole “life’s not […]

Just found out I’m a Jew

Larry, Orlando, FL. In closing up my elderly parents’ home, I was given some family news I did not expect from a relative I haven’t kept up with. It seems she did genealogical research and found out my grandmother’s family was deported in 1912 because they were Jewish. They came to America again a few […]

Nazi past, American present, Christian regardless

Jessica Eaton, Minot, ND. My maiden name is “Hess” and carries a lot of weight for being a “Nazi name”. Growing up, other students in school would call me a “Nazi” because of my last name and distant relation to a couple of people who took part in the Nazi regime. I didn’t like it, […]

Hispanic Or Not I Achieve Dreams

Odali Ayon Rodriguez, Tucson, AZ. Just a quick message: In our society of modern day times I am immensely judged for being Hispanic and a women. As children we are always encouraged to dream big and live towards those big dreams. However, as I grew older there were a lot of individuals (teachers, friends, family […]

Well…there’s so many minorities now…

Tony Reyes, Portland, OR. I’m half Latino. My mother is a white, evangelical, conservative. I came home the night Obama was re-elected and asked if she had heard the results. The above statement was how she very bitterly responded. Apparently people of color aren’t intellectually capable of choosing a president on the basis of anything […]

Often Ashamed of Being White Male

Anthony Whittum, Portland, OR. As I get older (56) racism seems more prevalent or at least more “advertised” by those that hold racist beliefs. Or perhaps as my childhood, young man-hood and middle age fade into the rear view mirror my awareness of all things grows. It seems that racists are most often categorized as […]

Racism exists because no one’s evil

Jim Solomita, Portland, OR. Enslavement is one of the most evil things a human can do to another. However, no one likes to think of themselves as evil. Therefore, the slave owners needed a way to justify what they were doing. Their solution was to consider Africans as less-than humans – tantamount to animals. Then […]

I am not who you think.

Michelle DePass, Portland, OR. I live in Portland, a City that is overwhelmingly white. Our State Constitution was a racist one. Slavery was not allowed, however Black people were discouraged by a clause in the Constitution that says that Black people who locate in Oregon are subject to public whippings every 6 months until they […]

Struggling to overcome my fear.

Lucy Jones, Portland, OR. I am 32 years old and white. I have had social anxiety all of my life. As a child, I was around black people often and I was comfortable, but quiet because of my anxiety disorder. This changed in college. I grew up in Ohio and went to school in southern […]

I’m white and not ashamed.

Matt, Portland, OR. Lately I’ve seen people of all races attack and belittle white people. Everyone complains about how whites are so racist, but where I come from everyone except white people are treated equally. We constantly get ridiculed for something our generation has no part of. We get made out to be the bad […]

Did you grow up wearing shoes?

Jessica Anderson, Denver, CO. I grew up in the Appalachian mountains of East Tennessee, but I now live in Colorado. People always ask ridiculous questions when they find out where I’m from, including, “Did you wear shoes?” and “Where are your overalls?” Being a white, M.A. holding, middle-class woman doesn’t shield me from these stereotypes. […]

Blinded grandfather gave granddaughter excellent vision

Nicole, East Lansing, MI. My grandfather was blind all my life. All I knew was that there was an accident. It wasn’t until he passed that I learned that the accident involved a white man. My grandfather was a doorman and was pushed into the glass door. My grandfather never spoke of the incident. I’m […]

I don’t consider you a Hispanic.

Ruth Santiago, Rochester, NY. A very close long time friend said this to me. I was totally taken off-guard. I asked for an explanation. She stated, “the fact that I came from a home with both parents, parents who loved us, encouraged education, and values”. It actually made me angry to realize that this is […]

Borderlands born. Always illegal. Always home.

Chuy Benitez, Houston, TX. When you grow up at the collision of two countries, of two cultures, of two identities, you learn very quickly the different nuances between the two cultures and you adapt to appease whichever culture you have to encounter. It makes you more observant, but of course it doesn’t occur without making […]

Pale skinned but black don’t fit.

Zanetea Reece, Fort Myers, FL. I am a bright skinned young woman, grew up in Southwest FL. We we’re not tought about our history in school. But racisim is and was learned at home. Because of that I grew up and still am a loner. No one wanted to be friend me because I didn’t […]