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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 […]

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I saw a group of “undesirables.”

Danielle Giese, Cheverly, MD. This is what my white neighbor called a group of African American young men who were congregating outside of the a local grocery store. Apparently, one of them was showing off his new baby. I wondered if that will be how my sons will be described years from now. Will they […]

White. Wish I had a culture.

Jan Spooner, Tucson, AZ. As a white American, I don’t have a strong feeling of culture. My African American, Jewish, Native American and Hispanic friends can all talk about a strong cultural background. Their stories reflect their heritage and what it means to belong to their ethnic group. What is my culture and what are […]

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Your accent… Are you from here?

Ivan Vazquez, Sacramento, CA. Although I was born and raised in San Diego, CA ; I grew up in a household that comprised of both the English and Spanish language, about 60% English and 40% Spanish. I am a child of second-generation immigrants and even though I received my entire education in English, I came […]

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Seen It With My Own Eyes

Elizabeth Swenson, Hacienda Heights, CA. I went to school in NC were it was predominately black & white in2006. My husband and the majority of my friends are Hispanic or Spanish descent. I never really though racism exist coming from LA, CA were its divers. But here I saw people say nasty things, dirty looks, […]

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I am content being called “gringa.”

Nell Haynes, Chile. Sometimes it’s hard being the person that always stands out in a crowd, especially in an impoverished city in the middle of the Chilean desert (the driest place on earth). I get catcalled daily. I’m charged more for public transport and at the market. But I’m always surprised when people ask if […]

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I’m More than, Less than Accepted

Nicole Reynolds, Virginia Beach, VA. Race often goes hand and hand with self worth. Who am I in the world? What does that answer mean? How does it affect my life? Is there anything I can do to change that? I have Ugandan Blood, Taino Blood, Spanish Blood, Past African American Slave blood. What race […]

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Moving against societies current of Race

Mehdi Ettehadulhagh, Norway. Being born in Cameroon, having a Russian father that’s born in Iran, and a mother from Cameroon, and living in Norway but schools in Romania really makes one feel mankind is One. And all of the citizens of earth are one. But it will take others a lifetime to see the world […]

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We were people, before the chains!

Gwen Montgomery, Dallas, TX. This country took a race of people and turned them into second class citizen. Many of our problems are a result of the oppression we went thru for hundreds of years. I’m afraid that the results of those actions may never be changed. We have been fighting every since we got […]

I’m not his white trophy wife

Moyo Myers, Washington, DC. In that split second when someone (of any race or ethnic origin) sees me (White) standing with my husband (African-American), they decide so much about the quality, depth, and reasons for our relationship. And that shows, in the expression on their face and in the way that they interact with us.

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To be young, gifted, and black.

Maynard Hearns, Santa Cruz, CA. The black story in america is very simple: we were slaves, and then we weren’t. We were never given freedom, or equality. When we begged for it, we were lied to. When we Marched on Washington and pleaded our case, we were shot in the back of the head. When […]

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Homecoming with best friend. You dating?

Jaden Miskowiec, Memphis, TN. I went to homecoming with my best friend, who happens to be black. One woman asked my mother if we were dating because she was concerned about our relationship. First time I experienced racial discrimination (though not the first time I had seen it).

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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 […]

You’re nice for a “white” girl

Colleen Schwab, Seattle, WA. I grew up in a very diverse area of CA where many children were first generation immigrants, and many children were of multi-racial backgrounds, mostly middle to lower class families. And my whole family has grown up with and around people from many different backgrounds. So I had no issue trying […]

Black teen boys scare white people.

Tim McGovern, Chicago, IL. I live in a racially integrated neighborhood on the South Side of Chicago. You go to the playgrounds and there are kids of all races playing together, parents talking over coffee and bonding over the crazy things that four-year-olds do. The public school kindergartens, first grades, second grades, third and fourth, […]

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What are you? I am Other.

Barbara Racca, Austin, TX. When I was younger, that question would immediately cause my shoulders to hunch and a look of hunted suspicion to cloud my features. Today my embracement of otherness is shadowed by so much more than a child’s rejection of being different– Am I rejecting aspects of my race by qualifying that […]

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Two white children in Halloween photo

Dave Parnell, Carrollton, TX. Our kindergarten daughter wanted to go to her friend’s Halloween party. I saw that the address and the protective father in me did not feel safe letting her go. But I called and the black man I spoke to certainly heard the fearful white father on the other end of the […]

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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 […]

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I’m surprised you speak so well.

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 […]

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Wow, I can’t believe you’re black!

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 […]