Scrub brown skin with whitening soap.

Kate Blanco, Berkeley, CA. Filipinos and Filipino-Americans tend to have an obsession with “whiteness”. I was once told as a young kid to use whitening soap because I was so dark skinned. I believed them. I was taught to view my brown skin as ugly and white/lighter skin as beautiful. I tried to scrub off […]

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White baby in the black projects.

Jamie Bishop, Florence, MA. I am a bastard child conceived in the back seat of a Chevrolet in 1965. When I was born, I was sent to an orphanage. I don’t know what all happened, but my grandfather, (Daddy, or Mr. Bishop) had strong feelings about family duty, and five days later, against my grandmother’s […]

They all asked, “Was he black?”

Amy D., Royal Oaks, CA. One night in San Francisco, when walking home from my car after a late work night, a man came toward me and tried to steal my purse. My immediate instinct was to resist and call out, hoping for some intervention from those living in the houses nearby. Ultimately he took […]

Its an ugly yet beautiful word

Kadeem Thomas-Evans, Columbia, SC. When I hear the word race I feel strange it’s like there making it seem like your different from every one else just because of the color of your skin. Race is an ugly because its a shame that people were categorized just in the past and now for the color […]

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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 […]

I only noticed her pretty hair.

Jessica Cooper, Glasgow, KY. The first time I met an African-American individual I was three years old. My mother and I were walking down an isle in the supermarket and I looked up to see a little girl with the prettiest hair. She had braids with beads and ponytails and I loved it. My three-year-old […]

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Don’t believe everything that you think

Jim Schultheiss, St. Johns, MI. I have always felt that I needed to be very careful and thoughtful on issues related to prejudice. Growing up in as a white, heterosexual male in a community largely lacking diversity, I learned I needed to listen very carefully to the thoughts and experiences of others and not impose […]

Tired of feeling white guilt

Ben Capaul, WI. My ancestors were Swiss immigrants to Wisconsin in the 1920’s. I’m as white as you can get. My 80 year old grandparents love my black girlfriend. But I get dirty looks and hushed whispers at her all black family gatherings. I always worry that black people will somehow see me as a […]

White Privilege doesn’t exist for me

Justin Banks, Mission Viejo, CA. I was born into an average middle class family that is dominantly white. I know that my father was born into a working class family where my grandfather worked a number of odd jobs but mostly was a handyman for most his life. My dad was the first in his […]

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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 […]

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You are those girls mother?! Really!?!

Ethel Grigorovici, Mountain House, CA. “You play so well with her. What are your rates?” “Could you please let her parents know.””Are you a family friend or the nanny?” Samples of the many questions/comments I get when I was out and about with my children. I’m the mother of 3 the last two (girls) are […]

White husband, still a Nubian Queen

Kavisa, Brooklyn, NY. My parents raised me to be extremely proud and knowledgeable of my African American and Caribbean heritage. My love for Africa intensified further after spending 2+ years living and volunteering in Tanzania. In the mist of becoming fluent in Swahili and embracing East African culture I fell in love with my future […]

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Race does not exist, racism does.

Sarah Brush, Delaware, OH. I have friends that are of other races and I don’t care about their skin tone or how they look. I look deeper than that. The term race is constantly brought up when talking about racism. I don’t think race truly exists. Yes people have different skin tones. But we are […]

You are. Don’t waste time explaining.

Gwendolyn Kelly, Louisville, KY. People of color spend too much time defending, justifying, explaining how they are or are not “like everyone else” and trying to fit in or making a show of not trying to fit in. Stop it! It’s exhausting, a waste of resources, and demoralizing. We are. We don’t need to explain […]

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I’m tan, but I’m not Mexican

Gabriella, Delaware, OH. Just because my skin is naturally olive, everyone thinks im foreign, I have gotten many different ethnicity such as, Puerto Rican, Cuban, Moroccan, Brazilian, and Latino, and Hispanic. But I’m white.

I’m Jocelyn, I do speak English.

Jocelyn Rueda, Napa, CA. I am a Mexican female. I once went to a store and went up to the register to ask a question and the women was looking for someone to talk to me. She was a white women and she thought I didn’t speak English.

No one believes I am black

Sozit Mohamed, Sunnyvale, CA. Being Ethiopian with Arab heritage in my family, most do not believe I’m black/African. Also, being black and muslim, seems to be the worst thing you can be in America right now.

Why must our differences be wrong?

Sarah Whitlock Indianapolis, IN It is so frustrating to be around people who are discriminatory. I am tired of having to worry about offending someone because I make a comment that mentions their race or ethnicity. Such a comment is not a problem specifically because it is potentially negative, but because it mentions their race. […]

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Red is NOT ‘the new black’

Joni Graves, Spring Green, WI. I made this mash-up design for a t-shirt after an unfortunate coincidence in my email inbox. Prior to today’s announcement by the DA in the shooting of Tony Robinson, and two minutes after the UW-Madison Chancellor’s email “Campus resources for the Tony Robinson decision”, I received a “Badger Voice” newsletter […]

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What is, uhmm, race is uhmm…

Mahlon Gumbs, Atlanta, GA. What is uhmm… Race is uhmm… The thin line that Blinds us, Confines us, Keeps us at home base. If we cross that line It’s a crime, No matter the time; Society will put us back in our place. But what is uhmm… Race is uhmm… The thing about which we […]

I don’t want my white privilege.

Jason Struhs Salt Lake City, UT All safety and comfort that I currently enjoy has been at the expense of those who  have a different cultural heritage than I.  I do not want to benefit from this, but it is impossible not to.  Walking alone in a suburb late at night, an officer is more […]

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Mom’s white. Dad’s black. I’m spotted.

William Jones, Reisterstown, MD. It’s Vitiligo. Yes, it’s what Michael Jackson had. It basically means the cells that make skin color stop doing that. All though you can’t see it as well in lighter complections, anyone from any race can develope it, and at the age of about 30, I became one of the 1% […]

Southern Living: Caught Between Different Cultures

Jackie Houston, TX My parents are South American immigrants who were granted amnesty during the 1980s. I was born and raised in Texas. I didn’t have many Hispanic friends growing up. I grew up around many Texas Germans and am now at college in Houston studying German. People are surprised when they discover that I […]

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Not you, you’re from the Caribbean

Johanne Rahaman, Miami, FL. I am half black, half Indian, from the Trinidad, with an obvious Caribbean accent, and while I enjoy adding my bit to the diversity of America, it’s also a curse, because I have often in the past heard people make derogatory comments about African-Americans in my presence. They have referred to […]

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I’m not Iranian, I’m Puerto Rican

Darilis, Portland, OR. I moved from Puerto Rico to Michigan and people never knew what I was. Some thought I was Black, many thought I was mixed Black/White, and others thought I was Samoan. I recall one day I was at a store and a gentleman asked me if I was from Iran. I smiled […]

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You don’t look Mexican Native American!

Delaney Rodarte, Prescott, AZ. When I was much younger I was darker skinned and people saw me as Mexican, but now in my later years, especially since I have gone to public school, people see what is now pale skin and refuse to accept me or admit that I am native american and men won’t […]

What does an American Look Like

Carlos, Beloit, WI. What does an American Look Like? The real question is, “what was the intentional look of an American.” America is a history of exclusion and Labor needs. Immigration laws were molded in exclusion, but the need of minority work has changed what an Americans looks like. For they were part of responsibility […]

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White Slavery & The Myth of White Privilege

DeAnna Calderon, Austin, TX. I grew up poor in the Southside of Chicago. We were extremely poor and even homeless at times. Sleeping outside in the middle of winter when I was a child. When I was 22 I joined the Army. The treatment I faced as a woman in the military felt like it […]

I was supposed to be white.

Brent A. Snavely, Paris, MI. I was raised by non-biological parents who had interviewed my white birthmother and had assumed my birthfather had also been white based on my birthmother’s general description of him.

Sexism: worse than racism. It’s complicated.

Woman, Raleigh, NC. Yes, racism exists and at times, thrives, but if you’re a woman of color, you’re more likely to be affected than your male counterparts. Sexism, an outworking of centuries of patriarchal systems – systems that allowed for racism in the first place – makes every “ism” it’s present in worse. So, when […]

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Indian American South Asian Desi American

Jacob Kuriakose, San Diego, CA. I would like to bring up the idea of “Indian” to label Native Americans, Pakistanis, Sri Lankans, Bangladeshis, etc. I would also like to talk about lumping East Asians, South Asians, and South East Asians into the general term “Asian” as well.

I have always wanted Blonde Hair

Sierra Lozano, CA. I feel as though I need more than six words to say how I’ve felt my whole 18 years of living. I grew up in Orange County, California and have lived here my whole life. I am of mixed ethnicity, but can not identify with any particular race. I remember coming home […]

Tattoos and piercings don’t equal trashy.

Megan, Keithville, LA. People always call me and my family trashy because we have tattoos and I have piercings as well. People should be able to express themselves in whatever way they want to, whether it be by tattoos and piercings or anything other. Be you

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Montgomery Blair HS still inspires me

Jonathan Feldman, Rochester, NY. My high school was integrated, and we took such pride in this that Stevie Wonder found out: he made a surprise visit to our school in 1981 to promote the creation of the Martin Luther King Day holiday. I wish that all students could have the same experience that we did. […]

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We aren’t all “Strong Black Women”

Ce Submitted via Twitter: @CelesteAurora Sunday March 11, 2012- 140 character exchanges spark a rich conversation… The Tweets that ignited the conversation… We aren’t all “Strong Black Women” @CelesteAurora     Has “strong” become a euphemism for “it doesn’t matter how we treat them because they’ll survive”? Pamela Upsher ‏ @PupsherLive   It seems so. […]

Can’t take you home to momma.

Tammy Medell Gardner San Jose, CA I am white. The man with whom I fell in love in 1982 was black. We met in Fort Worth, Texas working at the same company. He grew up in Charlotte, North Carolina, while I was from northern Michigan. Our romance, so new and full of hope, soon faltered […]

I can’t find Home… Found it!

Mari Pollack Los Angeles, CA Joy was adopted at the age of 11 from an abusive home in Korea into a loving family in California. Now a rebellious alcoholic in her 20s, she is homesick for a home that doesn’t want her and unable to feel truly a part of her adoptive family. She returns […]

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Are you my mother? Sí, mija.

Daniela, Oklahoma City, OK. Are You My Mother by P.D Eastman was one of my favorite books growing up because I loved how graciously and lovingly the mama bird at the end confirmed her son’s pleading for a sense of belonging. I am aware that I am not the only multi-ethnic person out there who […]

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 […]

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My hair defines me, woman Black!

Meteorologist Rhonda Lee, Shreveport, LA. I was let go from my job as a meteorologists at KTBS in Shreveport, LA for a Facebook post where I defended my hair, and later Black kids. I’m pregnant now and feel there is still so much I need to do to change the world before my son gets […]

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Own history, own America, our turn.

Keith Stokes, Newport, RI. Persons of African heritage have been far too long a background to much of American history. The more we can learn and share about our important contributions to American history, the more we as a people will be able to share in the full fruits of living and prospering in America.

What you don’t see, others suffer.

Carrie Allan, Takoma Park, MD. I’m always amazed by white people who make an argument that racism is in the past. How can any of us make that claim without living the experience? Recently I watched an online discussion about the English language and the absurdities of political correctness in academia devolve into an argument […]

The house I did not build

Adam Paberzs, Ann Arbor, MI. Understanding Race Project- University of Michigan Here are some other 6-word essays that you may use under my name (I know that’s probably breaking the rules – just wanted to share if nothing else). Whiteness. Welcome to the real world. Not who I thought I was. Fear. Guilt. Shame. Courage. […]

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OSMONDS BETTER THAN JACKSON 5, WHY?

Juleah Richards, Chippewa Falls, WI. BORN IN 1960; ST.PAUL MINN. LIVED IN WONDERFULLY MIXED NEIGHBORHOODS IN SOUTH MINNEAPOLIS UNTIL I WAS 10YRS OLD. MY MOM MARRIED A FARMER FROM RED RIVER VALLEY. WE MOVED TO SPOT 10 MILES FROM NORTH DAKOTA AND 90MI FROM CANADA. THERE WERE ONLY SCANDINAVIANS AND FRENCH FOLKS. NONE OF MY […]

We plan life so we’re safe.

Jamie Haines, Franklin, VA. As an inter-racial lesbian couple in Virginia, we have to plan carefully. Will that small diner be safe? Can we vacation safely in that city, country? Can we hold hands? Will we have to take Mr. Confederate Flag stalker back to court? Every single time one of us walks out the […]

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I’m Wendy. Expected to be white.

Wendy A. Merritt, Omaha, NE. I heard Jamaal’s story this morning on my way to work and could see the similarities as an African American woman with a “white” name. Not so much anymore, but as a child I was teased for talking and acting “white”, as well. After attending a PWI (Predominantly White Institution) […]

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You’re Invited! You’re not a minority?

Rafael Rosato, Berwyn, PA. This is my college graduation picture from 1988. I received a bachelor of arts degree from an Ivy League University and a short while later was traveling to New York to join a management training program at a prestigious Wall Street Bank. There were 34 of us in that class and […]

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White choir weekly sings black gospel

Merrile Sing, Seattle, WA. A predominantly white choir in Seattle has built relationships with multi-ethnic communities and raised funds for the needy in the past 10 years by singing African-American gospel music. Gospel music, through its message and interactive call-and-response nature, opened a door. Since its inception, the University Presbyterian Church (UPC) Gospel Choir, located […]

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I wanted to play with everyone.

Leigh Marz, Kensington, CA. I remember visiting my grandma in Arkansas in the summer. She took my younger brother and I to a park so we could play with other children. But when we started to play with some African American kids on the monkey bars it was suddenly “time to go.”

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Dance is color blind universal language

Brian Hayes, Atlanta, GA. I got into Salsa dancing because I wanted to try something new. I never knew it would open my eyes and allow me to meet people I never would have interacted with before. Upon doing that, I realize that we are much more a like than different. I found my love […]

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Me llamo Lora y hablo español.

Lora McManus, Altadena, CA. Being transracially adopted (by Caucasian parents) comes with a plethora of advantages and challenges. One of the most common misconceptions that I face on a daily basis is the assumption that I was raised in an Chinese family and speak Mandarin, when actually neither of those are true. Stereotypes are one […]

Another black baby born too soon.

Anonymous, Brookline, MA. After growing up in a predominantly black town (Bloomfield, CT) as the daughter of Northern, white liberals, I became a nenatologist. Racial disparities in infant mortality and preterm birth motivate me to leave my 3 daughters in daycare and go to work. There, I not only look after preterm infants in the […]

My kid’s names will be normal

Anonymous, Canton, MI. As a conscious black man in America, I’m aware of the institutional racism that still exist. I am an educator in the urban community and have seen some names that will hinder some of my students from getting picked out of the pile of resumes. I’m thankful my parents named my brother […]

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I’m an Arab named Dave Hall

Dave Hall, Brooklyn, NY. I get my name from my Yankee (English-American) father, whose ancestors arrived in Boston in 1630 but I get my complexion from my Arab-American mother. People do a double take when they first meet me after only hearing my voice on the phone. And new friends quickly learn that I am […]

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 […]

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Pick ’em up & lay ’em down.

Anonymous, Seattle, WA. My five-month-old Ameri-Kenyan daughter and I were part of a group of 300 Americans with the National Parks Service who commemorated the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights March. For five days, we marched from Selma to Montgomery. She rode just over my heart, clapping and singing as we went.