Rabab Ahmed, Stamford, CT. “Where are you from?” is a question I used to proudly answer to when I was younger. Although I always had to clarify, “no, it’s not in India. It’s a small country right next to India.” But as I got older I found the question tedious and sometimes puzzling. It wasn’t […]
Lynette M. Silva, Dallas, TX. My ethnicity apparently changes depending on the immediate environment. I get followed in stores here in Texas, and asked questions like, “Where are your people from?” But when I go to work–I’m a Ph.D.–I am told, “You’re Hispanic? I just don’t see it.”
Alf Newlin, NJ. These six words popped in my mind while watching the national coverage about Ferguson as well as from a multi year experience centered around a community’s effort to materially improve community friendly public safety. Oddly the demographics for the referred to community are so very different than those communities currently in the […]
Tronta Pounds, Philadelphia, PA.
Kristen Moorhead, Silver Spring, MD. I’ve always told my son, “You can be anything you want to be.” Before Shani Davis’ won gold, POTUS was elected – prior to Neil deGrasse Tyson gracing our screen in Cosmos. What was once – is still – momentous to me is his normal: ‘I like ice skating, why […]
Daina Haughton, Philadelphia, PA.
Fred Wherry, New York, NY. An administrative assistant remarked to my (now ex) European partner: “When I first saw Fred I was a little scared of him. Then I found out he’s gay and your partner!” Somehow, if seen alone or if I appeared too “hard,” I was intimidating. By being “soft” I could disarm […]
Renee Yates, Evanston, IL. Being black in America means that every time you feel slighted or unfairly treated in the larger society you have to wonder “Is it because I am black?” It’s demoralizing and exhausting.
Stephen Davis , Submitted via Twitter: @srdavis1941.
Bonnie Jerome-D’Emilia, Haddonfield, NJ. These are my three children. We had never discussed the derogatory use of the word yellow to connote Asian, until we were forced to. My daughter was shocked.
Mandy Padgett, Durham, NC.
Chris Thompson, Rochester, NY. I have been an engineer for 13 years, and I notice that when I don the regular business casual attire, colleagues not directly in my department think I’m either in food or custodial services. Now I wear a tie daily, and the “compliment” I get is that I look like a […]
Adrienne Karyadi, Los Angeles, CA. I think of this as a supermarket check-out line experience: I’m waiting with strangers in some kind of line, and they notice me with my son. My son tries to engage them and they respond. And then they start wondering: what ethnicity is he? because he doesn’t look like he […]
Michael Kenji Yamasaki, Rio Rancho, NM. OBSERVATIONS – Where are you from? No really … Where are you from? I can relate to Mr. Marc Quarles (African-American, with a German wife and two biracial children). There were times when I too have been asked, “Where are you from? No really where are you from?” However, […]
Chrissy Iemma, San Diego, CA. I am a white woman. I have an interracial young adult son. The injustices that the African Amercican community face troubles me to the core. I talk about it and talk about it – to my son, his father, my black friends and it bothers me that I seem to […]
Rose Johnson, Redwood City, CA. I feel so dirty. I don’t know why. I feel racist even though I go out of my way to be kind to all the Mexican kids at my school, or the homeless African-American guy who camps near the 7-11 I go to after school, because I know they probably […]
Jules Jeung, Union City, CA. At this very moment, as I write this, destruction is going on in Oakland due to the decision of the grand jury in the Michael Brown/Ferguson case. I grew-up in Oakland. I hate having negative thoughts about another race and their experience in this country. I hate feeling like a […]
Yvonne Torrance, Philadelphia, PA. People who sat the shooting of Michael Brown is not about race are kidding themselves. If a Black officer had shot an unarmed white kid would he be sitting at home still collecting his paycheck?
Christopher Allen Cummings, USA. The notion circulating among a few of my black friends is that as a black man I should feel represented in some way by Michael Brown’s demise. Yes I know I wasn’t there and facts are still pending, but I think there’s enough evidence to show that Brown wasn’t innocent. It’s […]
Heidy Avila Murillo, Baltimore, MD. My marriage is biracial, I am Hispanic and my husband is a Caucasian born in Maryland. This year after obtaining my US citizenship, my husband and I decided to have three days vacations in Canada. We visited Niagara Falls, Toronto city, and since I love Diego Rivera’s artwork, we decided […]
Tracey Hughes, Kansas City, MO. The unofficial trial of Michael Brown (also known as the statement from Prosecutor McCullough) makes it official in my mind. America is nowhere near ready to make significant, lasting change when it comes to confronting racism, privilege, and the lack of equality in justice for ALL if its citizens. I […]
Joscelyn Gay, Denver, CO. As a white woman, I’m frustrated with white society saying they are ‘color blind’ and their reponsibility is voer. I would like white people to understand the profound impact that decades of disparity in education, incarceration, and employment have had on Black society.
Mark Overmann, Washington, DC. I grew up in a mostly white suburb north of Cincinnati, Ohio. My grade school was not diverse. I remember one black classmate in my year – we played baseball and basketball together – and one girl of Asian descent, but that’s about it. My high school was more diverse, but […]
Anastasia Rogers, Detroit, MI. I am a firm believer that everyone, no matter if you’re a man, woman, or something in between, black, white, Asian, or a different race, should be treated equally and with respect. That being said, I often find myself making snap, harsh judgments about people that I’ve never even had a […]
Mark Ohrstrom, The Plains, VA. I will not be one too.
Chris Porter, Seattle, WA.
Eric Wall, Kent, WA. I was fortunate to be part of an integrated busing program all through elementary school. I went to college and got a master’s degree in Multicultural Education. I still spend too much time talking the talk and not walking the walk. Fully understanding the impact of Race is truly a life […]
Anonymous, Washington, DC. I am White and i hate to hear other White people say they are color blind or that we’re all the “human race.” by saying we are color blind, we are pretending racism is over and make other’s struggles seem illegitimate. To me, this seems like it adds insult to injury.
Anonymous, Novel Ideas Book Club Baton Rouge, LA. / Washington DC More on Yoshi Hattori
Ahtum, San Antonio, TX. I often get asked what are you but when I had a baby with red hair, the question became how did you get a baby with red hair. I always start off with, “well, my mom IS white” then lead into “but my husbands grandmother had red hair” I often want […]
Ken Romig, Albuquerque, NM. There is racial and cultural insensitivities in everyone.
Walter Thompson-Hernandez, Los Angeles, CA. I am a native of Los Angeles, California and the proud son of an African American father and a first-generation Mexican immigrant mother.
Aaron Yeh, Las Vegas, NV. White mother, Chinese father, I was raised by my mom and don’t speak Chinese. Sometimes I look in the mirror and my Asian features surprise me. It’s startling how I identify more with being ‘white’ than anything else. The “other” box on forms asking my ethnicity has always comforted me, […]
Kathleen J Gagnon, New Haven, VT. We were at another couple’s house, for dinner. The meal was excruciatingly boring, but the man of the couple was my Army officer husband’s CO, or Commanding Officer, so I pasted a smile on my face and got through the evening. When it finally ended, we thanked our hosts […]
Kathryn Walters-Conte, Silver Spring, MD.
Starr, Albuquerque, NM. Black women are often characterized as sassy which I take as an insult. The root of sassy is sass or to balk, talk back; in order words, to disobey, or not know your place with the not-so-subtle inference that your place is inferior. I’ve been called sassy because I am smart and […]
Nina Ball, Baltimore, MD. When people first meet my husband and/or see a picture of us together, the surprise is obvious. I’ve had a few people outright tell me that they just assumed he was Korean. More often than not, I get the question, “What do your parents think?” When they find out that, like […]
Shotts-Flikkema, Submitted via Twitter: @fshottsf
Danielle DuCré, Submitted via Twitter: @sphereofdin
Franklin Oliver, Submitted via Twitter: @FOLIVER4U. Read More about Franklin Oliver’s Six Words. tinyurl.com/q2z8uk2
YaVaughnie Wilkins, Submitted via Twitter: @YaVaughnieW
Sharon Neumane, Mehoopany, PA. Growing up in the 60’s and 70’s I truly believed that we had moved beyond racial conflicts. My greatest heroes, my most beloved singers and song writers, actors, activists and poets are people who’s skin is a different color than mine. I have never in my life filled out a race […]
Don Williams, Jacksonville, FL. People have a tendency to use the wrong words, the wrong tone to others and when questioned they pass the buck, they refuse to accept what came out of their mouths, its easier to blame the other person for your short comings.
Mo, MA. I am neither white or black so I am not invited to the debates on race.
Erin Jones, Landover, MD.
Seth, Australia. My mothers family is from a Haitian Creole line but I grew up in Montana and my mother and my siblings and I are all of lighter skin but we get dark in summer so other than mom’s hair, and now my beard you really couldn’t tell. So I really grew up outside […]
Jonathan, New York City, NY. Whenever I see white women walking towards me I cross the road. I am afraid they will be judgMENTAL. From experience, I find them to be accusers. I am working on it.
Eduardo Meza, Albany, NY. I get it! I look like the typical thug you will find in disadvantaged neighborhoods throughout most of California. I know I am immediately judged by my cover. People mistake my form of self-expression for some sort of territorial gang branding. I am gay, latino, well-educated (Master’s Degrees), family-oriented and a […]
Krishna Ghodiwala, Washington, DC. I am an Indian American woman who was born in Canada, immigrated to the US at the age of 3, and went on to receive an excellent education that has helped me pursue a successful career in US politics and issue advocacy. My Indian heritage is a big part of my […]
Brenda Ling, Casper, WY. I’ve lived in Wyoming four years now and no one has said this to me – knock on wood. Though someone tried to give me an order at a Chinese restaurant in Casper while I was waiting for my food. Some sales clerk in Wal-Mart in St. Cloud, Minnesota, said those […]
Josephine Kim, Campbridge, MA. When it comes to race, we need our eyes to hear and our ears to see.
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 […]
Madge Walls, Wilsonville, OR. After a lifetime in Hawaii, I now live on Oregon. As much as I love Hawaii, I enjoy the novelty of being in the racial majority for the first time in my life.
Henderson Smith III, St Louis, MO. I told this lady in Cinn, Ohio after she grab her purse when she looked and saw me walking down the supermarket aisle. I explain to her that I was an Logistics Engineer at GE Aircraft Engines and a Captain in the Air National Guard.
Stephen Levitas, Bethesda, MD. Georgetown Day School This is what we are up against. It is what must be dissolved.
Lauralee Coady, Washington, DC. Georgetown Day School In the gym, step forward if you are white, back if you are black. A diversity lesson, well intended. Alas, one best friend forward, the other back. In public. One raged for the other who took it in stride.
Raquel Saunders, New York, NY. My dad is half black and my mom is white, when look at me you only really see the white. But I am a quarter black, and when I say that people look at me like I just gave them a lie. It pisses me off. Don’t judge me on […]
Annie Greenberger, New York, NY. Georgetown Day School I realize that I have the choice whether to engage in this project, I have the choice not make a statement, I can decide if it is important to me and the is my white privilege.
Anonymous, Georgetown Day School.
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 […]
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 […]
Manuela Bernardez Kuchta, Pittsbugh, PA. It can be very frustrating at times explaining myself or a good teaching experience depending on who’s questioning me.
Jennifer Bohannon, Jacksonville, FL.
DMC, Mineral Wells, TX. Who’s fault is it? I was a criminal but “chose” not to be. Am I a minority or white? Stop! Embrace a moral Christian life, I need these rules.
Brian R, Philadelphia, PA. The institution of slavery was a heinous act, that not only tore tens of thousands of Africans from their homeland, but has given this country a group of people who are unable to thrive in our society. African Americans would be better off in Africa. The U.S. Government should pay reparations […]
Bob Johnson, Baltimore, MD.
Siobhan Osborne, Little Rock, AR.
Marlott Rhodes, St. Louis, MO. Watch out America, this upcoming Wilson trial will be a tinderbox.
Kevin Ramos, Lakeland, FL. Why does everyone think I’m Mexican?
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 […]
Angel Walker, Hayward, CA.
David Clark, Sacramento, CA. This reflects my hope that the conversation is elevated beyond race to realize the truth that we are all one.
Anne Tobin, Normal, IL. Ever since I was thirteen, I’ve had to deal with the flack of my hair color. After South Park aired their “Ginger” episode, I hear ginger jokes every day at least once. When I enter a room or when I try and talk. “Shut up, Ginger.” “No one cares ’cause you’re […]
Wayne Larson, Lafayette, OR.
Brandon Sparks. Seattle, WA. Diversity always comes at the expense of white people…celebrate homogeneity.
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.
Jennifer Shawgo, Sausalito, CA.
Nancy Sale. Pleasant Hill, CA. During my career as a public school teacher this statement (which I made up) was written on a paper banner by my students and hung on the wall of every one of my classrooms for years – I still have the banner even though I am now retired.
Submitted via Twitter: @josephedison
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 […]
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 […]
Sheila Islam, Oakland, CA. You do not win a prize if you get it right. People hardly ever guess it right and thats not exactly the problem. The problem is, that when people do this, I feel objectified. I feel like my physical appearance is being ripped from me and being judged. I am so […]
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 […]
Jasmine VanExel, Northampton, MA. Smith College
Tanya Rao, Shrewsbury, MA.
Gina Barclay, USA. People are aware that Japanese Americans were placed in internment camps during WWII. What most do not know is that German Americans were interned in both WWI and WWII. Considering that Germans are of European descent, it can’t be because of racism. It was because Germany was hated and feared as an […]
Kayla Bernier-Sontag, Brattleboro, VT. Smith College I’m a student at Smith College and my six word story is about my observations in social justice education–the intersectionalities of class and race make it hard to explain the importance of white privilege.
Travis Abercrombie, Submitted via Twitter: @Trabercrombie, #RaceCardProject
Thomas M. Lenz. Weston, MA. I was the white kid in Providence. I stayed in my 4th grade class where I was happy. The Black kids were forced to come to unfamiliar territory and join us, and their neighborhood was closed. No wonder they became angry at the White world. Who wouldn’t be?
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.”
Amy Hartgrove, Kansas City, MO.
S. Dews, Northampton, MA. Smith College, Otelia Cromwell Day 2014
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 […]
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 […]