Why we hafta be “Afro” Anything?

Walter T. Pearson, Jacksonville, FL. I’m a black man, of many various ethnicities, Fifth American generation, from a family of military veterans,including my children who are currently serving in the Afghanistan region wars. I have no relatives from Africa (that I know of),so I wonder WHY must anyone that is not white, have to be […]

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I have white on my hands

Rachel Rodrigo, Chalfont, PA. Instead of blood on my hands, I have white on my hands. There are days when I read or hear people who are also white like me saying or doing terrible things to people different races and cultures. Some days I feel guilty that I’m white even though I didn’t choose […]

White Jewish girl in a bubble

Emily Einhorn, Beachwood, OH. Whenever there is talk about racism, a part of me feels guilty. I have lived in a small suburb my entire life. In this town, people joke you’re either black, Jewish, or Asian. I have never witnessed a racist act and I feel as if I’ve missed out on being a […]

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Yes, that is my real name.

Hyosim Nancy Collins, Beaverton, OR. My middle name is Nancy. I was born in South Korea and arrived in the United States when I was 4 years old with my Korean family. Soon after we arrived in California, my father decided we should all have “American” names. When I became a Naturalized Citizen at the […]

Just want credit it is due.

Jasmine Shabazz, Beachwood, Ohio. So, never once have I blamed the white kids and there families for slavery. Never once did I say there ancestors enslaved mine. And I hate to look like the girl who always plays the race card, or who always wants to cry about the struggles my ancestors went through. But […]

Through honesty, we can all grow.

Celest, Lakeland, FL. Southeastern University, Understanding Human Diversity Class. For everyone living in today’s society; we can all grow if we are honest with our choices, words, & actions. Honesty; that time when my a group of my white friends and I changed the letters on a church sign to say, “church of the nig,” […]

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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 […]

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“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 […]

Stop explaining why black lives matter

Tonisha C., Jonesboro, GA. All lives didn’t matter until black lives mattered. This response is no mistake. It is intended to be dismissive of the perils faced by people of color. It is humiliating and degrading to have to explain why black lives matter. It is a waste of time to explain, time and time […]

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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 […]

I’m seventy two, and race tired!

Celeste Havis, Jacksonville, FL. Science and religion alike informs us that the concept of race is an illusion. Why do we continue to hang on to this antiquated concept when it only serves to divide us? I have dedicated my life to building positive human relations and now it appears to me that we are […]

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My DNA can’t recall my RACE!?

Mckenzie C, Sacramento, CA. Science tells us that race cannot be found in our DNA. There is not one person that could find out about an individuals race based solely on DNA, because it is simply not there. The cool thing about this; DNA is the one and only thing that contains our whole genetic […]

Race is a misunderstanding of Biology

Coco Smith Salem, OR A phenotype is not a race. There is only one human race. What people are calling race, is actually ethnicity. That is a cultural binding construct. It is that diversity that makes the world an interesting place. Without it, none of us would be here.

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Won’t speak up, fear of judgement.

Shaniah Bartlett, Burlington, VT. I feel that on my college campus, I am not invited to speak out when it comes to race. Sure, they have the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, but I only see one race in the office. We have plenty of diversity events on campus, and I have attended several. I […]

I hate being called “white girl”

Stephanie Wichowski, Mount Olive, NJ,. I’m proud to be Polish and part Irish but because I’m white and a girl I automatically get grouped into other categories. I get told I can’t dance “because I’m white” and I’m told to prove that I can dance. (Mind you I’ve been training at a dance studio since […]

Sensitivity doesn’t make you less proud.

Bill Dunn Wichita, KS As a white male with almost exclusively conservative Southern roots going back many generations, I am proud of my ancestral heritage. This pride is not diminished by my awareness of and sensitivity to the experiences and feelings of others with a different racial background. In fact, the ability of many in […]

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Si Senor, yo soy del Bario

Elizabeth Gonzalez, Hodgkins, IL. I am proud of living in my neighborhood. I did not choose to be born a Latina or living in this neighborhood but no matter how bad it is I still love it. I wouldn’t change a single thing about my life.

My Race Works For My Race

Daniel A. Rodriguez, Philadelphia, PA. Hello, my name is Daniel A. Rodriguez and I am 15 years old. I am of Mexican and White descent. My parents came from Mexico shortly before I was born here, in the United States. My father is a construction worker and my mother is a house cleaner, which many […]

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When people ask… What are you?

Naomi, Grand Rapids, MI. I am an American, of Mexican decent… No, I don’t speak Spanish, no I don’t know where my family is from in Mexico… My Grandparents and Great-Grandparents were born in Texas… I grew up in Gary, IN around mostly Black people… people don’t know what box to put me in. How […]

Color Doesn’t Matter. Tell My Boss.

Tina, MI. These six terms are my experience as it relates to every work environment I’ve encountered. I’ve been successful whereever I’ve worked and am now busy doing the “enterepreneur thing” (successfully). My employment experiences have all been the same. Single black female, alone in a sea of white as if no other qualified blacks […]

We Don’t Consider You White Anyway

Daniel Martin, Jr. Mayfield, PA. In 2007, I was working in a bakery. For whatever reason, I happened to be one of very few white people that worked there. The large majority of the employees were people of color. I had no problem with this as I had been exposed to many different types of […]

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Not THAT kind of Black Girl.

Lateefah Torrence, Brooklyn, NY. At the corner bodega, I’m one of those Black Girls who the Middle Eastern owner must watch from his elevated podium behind the bullet-proof glass. On the subway, I’m a Black Girl on WIC who can give Russian ladies directions to the welfare office. In the taxi, I’m the Black Girl […]

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China, Yellow, hardworking, dream, versatile, active

Yilan Miao, Selinsgrove, PA. Maybe we should improved the inaccurate term “racism” with the much more accurate and potentially productive term “stereotype”. As American people always think, I am really good at math and this is the beginning of the third month for me to study in a small town of America. As you can […]

I don’t see you as Muslim.

Mohamed Abdallah Italy I have received this backhanded compliment in my adopted home, the US, and around the world many times, and I have commiserated with many African-Americans, Hispanics — substitute any race, creed or nation for “Muslim” — about how grating and disheartening it is. Despite what you have achieved, if you don’t fit […]

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My Industry can’t get Latino right.

Ricardo Chavira, San Antonio, TX. Actor who splits time between SA and LA. Alumnus of TV series Desperate Housewives. Id say I was shocked that industry can’t tap into Latino market, but I’m not. I also realize that we as Latinos have a tendency to get in our own way.

They were Asian and left 20%!

Caitlyn Rize, Ann Arbor, MI. As a waitress on a college campus, the people I work with constantly stereotype their tables before even walking up to them. Oftentimes the other servers will “give their table away” — meaning they don’t want to serve them — to us other servers who give everyone the chance to […]

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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. […]

So ‘Ratchet’ is the NEW Black?

Cyerra Hawkins Riverside, CA I’m a African American female and I am irritated behind the fact that people associate African american women as loud and verbose. people are people we all have different personalities and ways of expressing ourselves. Stop with the categorizing and that is for any race or ethnicity. Vicious stereotypes have been […]

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Not a tool against Black Women.

Betty Rosenda Green, Chino Hills, CA. With the recent controversies of Zoe Saldana playing Nina Simone in blackface and Zendaya Coleman having been cast originally to play Aaliyah, I believe it is important to see how deep mainstream media like Hollywood work to erase Black Women, particularly with darker complexions specifically in this case, by […]

I changed countries, now I’m black

Kehinde Yemen I sat down at a store today in the middle of Mumbai and a cute little girl about two years old was walking by with her grandma. She took one look at me and refused to come any further. I smiled at her encouraging her to take the few extra steps but she […]

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There are good ones out there

Jeremy J., Denton, TX. I hate when people are talking crap about a race or group of people and they feel like they have to mention “there are good ones out there.” Who do you think you are.

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I got all the white genes.

Cayla Olson, Duluth, MN. I have always felt that I had to qualify my racial identity with those six words. I am part native, my mother being Ojibwe and French, and my father being Oneida and Irish. We lived on my mom’s home reservation, and it was never any mystery to me as to what […]

What is a mad black woman

Lashauna Vaughn Warren, MI What is a mad black woman people look at it being loud, angry, violet but I think it is misunderstood for confident, determination ,and strong verbal skills. All these requirements are asked in a job application so who is mad?

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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 […]

I walk in two worlds daily.

Lenzy KB, Tulsa, OK. Like many Native Americans, I’m mixed and frankly, don’t look like the stereotypical “Hollywood” Native. I have to balance the Native world — both its contemporary and traditional components — daily with life in modern society.

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Three Cultures. Two Races. No Home.

Kristen Ellerbe, Richmond, VA. As a mixed child, I have never felt at home with any culture. My mother was born in the Philippines and my father was an airman stationed there. They are wonderful parents who are absolutely in love with one another. I am one of three children, the middle child and only […]

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It’s worse than you probably think

Amelia Ketzle, Carbondale, IL. I was at a Halloween party no more than two years ago, hosted by a girl I had lost touch with recently, when some new arrivals showed up. Everyone had been having a harmless, normal, good time, when this (white) couple came in carrying axes and machetes and covered in fake […]

Without my mask, I get ignored.

Cat Washington DC If I speak in my normal voice, I get ignored and spoken over. If I speak loudly, people look embarrassed (but they still don’t hear what I have to say). I’ve gone through silent periods over the years. It’s tiring, wearing a mask of charm and cultural whitewash. Why is it so […]

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I CAN speak English and Spanish!

Fernando Martinez, McAllen, TX. Some people assume I don’t speak Spanish because I have light skin. But others assume I don’t speak English when they find out I lived my entire childhood in Mexico and English is actually my second language. Little do they know that I can speak both!

A costume I can’t take off.

Anonymous Athens, GA Centuries ago, on the Horn of Africa, where my parents originated, Arabs crossed the Red Sea then crossbred and/or raped the indigenous Africans. This event has confused generations of “my” peoples’ sense of identity. I pose the question to my mother, “What are we?”, to which she responds, “Look in the mirror. […]

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Told to see race, am puzzled

Jeff Marks, Mountain View, CA. I have been hearing about the importance of “seeing race” a lot lately. What does this mean for my life? It can’t mean I should TRY to categorize people, should it? I often meet people that don’t easily fit in a standard racial category. For me, I will take it […]

Why must I choose one race?

Cassandra Young, Norfolk, VA. Often times when filling out a survey or application we are asked to select our race. Many of the times the directions state to only choose one. I am biracial and one race does not define me.

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“An Intelligent, Independent African American Women!”

Malikah Black, Urbana, IL. Based on stereotypes and neither are my sisters. The media instantly judge African American Women on their many failures, but what about their success? You’re most likely to hear about the statics of African American Women getting pregnant in 2015 on social media than those who graduated from college or trade […]

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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. […]

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Western Michigan meets Korea near Chicago

Mark Cooper Lafayette, IN In elementary school, my best friend turned to me and said, “Mark, I don’t even think of you as asian anymore!” I knew he meant that our friendship had stepped beyond perceived race, but the phrasing could not be anymore alienating. I have family that trace back to the Mayflower, to […]

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Not all Latinos are Mexicans

Irlena A. Rodriguez, Tucson, AZ. Mexican is not a race, and not all Latinos are Mexicans. We have different cultures and ethnicity across Latin America. I am Latina and I am Colombian, Not Mexican. there’s a big difference.

Showing my black daughter the cabins

Benjamin Baugh, Athens, GA. I am a white man and my daughter is a black girl. One day, I will have to walk with her down into the woods behind the old family farmhouse and show her the place where the short row of cabins once stood, and I’ll have to own that ancestral sin […]

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You’re lucky you look ambiguously minority.

Cristina Gonzales, Denver, CO. All throughout my life I’ve worked hard to succeed only to wonder if any success, any award, any accomplishment was truly earned, or if I am just helping someone make a quota, create a statistic, or justify an extra dollar or two. The worst is having a seed of doubt planted […]

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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“We” – Muhammad Ali

Kelly O’Brien, Carmel Valley, CA. Muhammad Ali used to say that this is the shortest poem in the world… He stood at the microphone and turn both hands first to himself, and he’d say “Me”. Then he reverse his gesture toward the audience and say “We”. I’ve always loved this incredibly astute and simple act […]

I will burn the house down.

Eric Chesapeake Beach, MD 1974, I was 14 years old; my dad was in the Army, we were moving to Ohio from Weaver, Alabama. The house we lived in we rented. The owner was selling the house and the realtor was in the driveway talking to my dad one day. The neighbor came over to […]

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A brokenness often neglected, never forgotten.

Daniel Harrison, Auburn, AL. What do I mean by neglected? I don’t just mean the easily targeted racists who are the enemy to be removed or reformed. Nor do I mean to target anti-racist activists who may unknowingly add fuel to the fire with false accusations. I mean the moral problem deep within the human […]

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My ancestors did not enslave yours.

Ardean Orr, Syracuse, NY. All four of my grandparents immigrated from Italy, so I’m pure Italian, but also white. My father was a jazz musician who often played with musicians who happened to be black, so I grew up in a tolerant home when it wasn’t popular. Growing up in America it seemed like blacks […]

By doing nothing, I’m the problem.

Bryan Fishkin, South Orange, NJ. As a white male who reaps the unfair benefits of institutionalized racism, I must make it an absolute priority to find actionable ways in which I can help alter the system to better promote actual equality. Acknowledging that the system is broken but doing nothing about it is just simply […]

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Who’s that person at your house?

Ismail A., Minneapolis, MN. My name is Ismail and I live in Minneapolis. I am Somali and I live with my family in an apartment building. A lot of different people live in my building, Latinos, Asians, Africans, African Americans and white people. The manager of the building is mean to the Somali people. She […]

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Was all the suffering worth it?

Tamara G. Cincinnati, OH When thinking of which six words I would use for The Race Card Project I had to ponder for a bit. I automatically thought of the fact that I am Jewish. Being so, I often get questioned about what holidays I celebrate or why we do certain things. Going to BGSU […]

Newspaper says ‘Black youths’ not ‘kids.’

Elizabeth Cook Pittsburgh, PA A white female with all minority students and friends, I am saddened and disgusted that race bias permeates every facet of our culture. What we think of as American culture is actually white culture, and others who challenge it are seen as complainers. Why is BET the only place on TV […]

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The Very Sight Of Them Disturbs

Sammy Bell San Francisco, CA Blazing Saddles is a satirical comedy by Mel Brooks that mocks racism, elitism, class-ism, cronyism, and sexism in a western spoof. One part of the movie that was most telling to me about the experience of racism for Blacks included the line “I want the very sight of him to […]

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Computer Science CEO, you own this?

Desh Bagley, Tampa, FL. Yes. I am the owner of the science and technology center that offers Java, C++, Arduino, Robotics, and Engineering workshops for students. Yes. I do wish that more girls took classes here. No. The young guys who take classes aren’t surprised by me. Yes. It’s their parents who often ask to […]

I Say I Don’t Care, But…

Dakota Jenkins, Lexington, KY. While we may say that “oh I’m colorblind when it comes to race”, we all have those initial reactions that are different for different people. It’s just how we are as human beings. That doesn’t make us a racist. It’s the actions we take after those thoughts emerge that determine that.

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White & Proud Not = KKK nor Racist

Heather Mast, Houston, TX. I’m tired of not being able to express my own opinion for fear of being labeled a hate monger or racist! Im sorry for injustice done but I did not victimize anyone. Many are too fearful to “do anything” to help one another of a different race because then, in turn, […]

White doesn’t make me a racist.

Dee Oh, TX. Why isn’t it racist for other people to say that because I’m white, I’m a racist? I am attacked solely because of my skin color from black people. Only from black people. Why isn’t that racist? I add to a conversation that statistically, more blacks are killed by other blacks than by […]

I feel othered for being lightskinned.

Lexie Nobrega, Norfolk, VA. I was never “black enough” to fit in with the black kids, but I am not white either so I obviously did not fit with those kids either. I was called an “oreo” often-black on the outside but my personality was equated to that of stereotypical whiteness. I always embraced being […]

Why do you sound so white?

Ladaja Kennedy, Norfolk, VA. Growing up, I went to a predominately white school with mostly white friends. Because of this I was usually not hanging around with people of my same race and ethnicity, thus not sounding like the others or having connection like everyone else did when it came to it. Then later when […]

Will racists be in Heaven? – Revelation 5:9

Rev. Paul Nulton, Vernon, NJ. I grew up in a very racist family and church. My grandfather subscribed to magazines like “The Cross and The Sword” – John Birch society rants about how African-Americans, Jews, Hispanics (all foreigners) were less human than white folk. I remember the minister ranting about Dr. Martin Luther King in […]

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Linda Ronstadt, I have missed you!

Christine Bunker, Riverside, CA. It is almost that time of year when the weather changes and the tamale pot gets taken out of storage. It is the one time of year when the sound of Linda singing, “Canciones De Mi Padre,” fills our home and our hearts. We feel close to her because she sings […]