intimidated by black men’s physical superiority

FessunUp Cracka, San Francisco, CA. My father never said n*****, but the multitude of subtleties…assumptions…these are mine to deal with. When I was a teenager, I frequently made racial slurs…weird, considering that there were only 3 black kids in my 1500 student high school. Now it is different for me. This cracker minored in black […]

Saddened by such lack of education

Carolyn Spoerl, Hudson, WI. I taught in the Dominican Republic for a year and came back to teach in a rural American classroom. These two diverse experiences reminded me how much education is still needed. I was completely shocked to hear my white, American students say there ‘was no racism anymore’ and equally shocked to […]

Too articulate to be from Harlem

JaNohn B. Snellville, GA. When we look at someone or find out where they are from, we assume they speak a certain way. When the person debunks that myth, it appears that everything that is said is some wonder. I went to school just like you did. It’s just a place you’re scared of and […]

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White trash married to black man

Tamera, Evans, GA. I still hear this comment from people even after being in a 32 year long loving marriage, having 3 children, and 5 grandchildren. I have heard that comment or a similar one from whites and blacks and that is truly sad to me. Love has no color boundaries in my eyes and […]

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African American Marine New Muslim Traitor

Vincent Simon, Fort Worth, TX. I’m a new revert to Islam, served in the US Marine Corps. Because of my new religion, I have been called a traitor to my country. The person who called me this doesn’t know me very well and didn’t serve in the military. I have been criticized by “good” Christians, […]

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I am more than African American

Lisa Latten, Richmond Heights, OH. I am more than African American. I am tired of being passed over for positions that I more than qualified to hold. I am tired of working twice as hard to prove my worth when my white counterparts who are less qualified laugh.

My nose is not a beak

Mary Walrath, Rochester, NY. I am Italian-American with the signature “Italian nose.” It is big, humped and crooked, and my entire young life was spent being called a “bird,” a “witch,” having bird calls made at me in halls, etc. It is surely nothing like the plight of many others in this country, but it […]

Not Getting My American Dream

Haley Wheelon, Camas, WA. I am the “white american”, the majority and the priority. I hope someday to own a white perfect 2 story house, with a white picket fence in a all white neighborhood. I will be a stay at home mom with 2 boys, Luke and Levi, and a golden retriever, Max. For […]

I am a proud American man

Charles Tanner, Midland, TX. I am an American,there is not a pre or post to that I was not brought here I was born here. Yes my distant family came from somewhere else. But as with anyone who truly wants to be an American they assimilated. Just as if I wanted to make any other […]

“Act like you’ve been here before.”

Jessica Johnson, Long Beach, CA. My grandparents took pride in not being a “typical” black family. I grew up in Prince George’s County, MD (about 10mins outside of the nation’s capital) which is home to the largest number of middle class black families in the United States. But outside of my community, I noticed even […]

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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 […]

Not Connected To My Own Heritage

Amanda Bajema, Riverside, CA. When my great grandparents immigrated to America from the Netherlands after World War II they put in their best effort to become a part of American culture, which in turn meant loosing their own. Growing up my mother and her siblings were growing up they were not to learn Dutch, to […]

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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 […]

Discuss race fearlessly to unite people

Susana Gluck, Minneapolis, MN. There has to be open and sincere talk about race, our perceptions and preconceptions. Each group has to be able to hear the goods and bads we perceive about each other to find common and higher ground and an acceptance of our shared humanity. We can be critical but also loving.

NOT proud to be an American.

Sonja Shipp, Lancaster, TX. The way that we treat each other as human beings in America is shameful and evil! Yet we always want to scream and shout about freedom and rights and how great our country is. That only makes sense if you’re rich and white.

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Adopted but am I still Mexican

Kasey Nichols, Clemmons, NC. I’ve known I’ve been adopted since I can remember and never questioned my ethnicity until I reached middle school age because we had to fill out cards with “check yes if Latino, African American, white or other.” Biologically I’m Mexican and Italian, but I was raised white with my dad being […]

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WHITE: Not Allowed 2 Be Proud

Jason McLevis, Duluth, MN. Growing up in a multi racial neighborhood I am well cultured. It was not until Junior High that I became aware I was supposed to be ashamed to be “White”. I am not allowed to be proud of any of my heritage. I must stand aside in shame while any other […]

Haole? My ancestors were hurt too.

Kim Kime, Hilo, HI. People seem to think, at least where I live in Hilo Hawaii, that white means money and a background with out hurt. They forget that many whom came to america came here to get away from racism, abuse, war, and or fame. I am Irish, I know my peoples pasts. It […]

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I’m American Indian-I’m a Unicorn.

Ty NolN, Tempe, AZ. I’m from a traditional family and have braids. I dance at Powwows, and participate in our Longhouse Ceremonies. The photograph is from when I used to do modeling and is from a calendar photo shoot, on Motorcycles. I’m on a 1935 Indian motorcycle, because one of the “gimmicks” of the calendar […]

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I am Native, I am American.

Tammy Trouche’, Canadian, OK. I may appear to be white, but I am as colorful as my ancestors. I can’t imagine a world without color. Mother Earth would be dull and lifeless without the purity of the colors. That is true of ALL people. We are full of color, paint humanity in FULL COLOR.

Where are you from? From America?

Alene Brothers, Greenwood, SC. Two of the most common questions I hear are “where are you from” and “what are you?” People see dark tan skin, dark brown eyes, and brown/black hair and think I have to be foreign. Although my family identifies as “white,” we’re a mix of different backgrounds, especially on my dad’s […]

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Yes, I was born in California

Robert De Dios, Sanger, CA. I am a high school student who use to get the ” oh you were born here in America?” Back when I was in middle school I often got this question simply because I was intelligent and these group of people never really heard about a Mexican or Latino being […]

You are what you pass for.

Amber, New York, NY. I had an interesting experience at a Family Health Center today. I was experiencing trouble at home with applying for health care online and sought help finishing the application with a woman named Carmen who specializes in enrolling people. She said my ethnicity was in question and that it was affecting […]

Not hispanic enough, not white enough

Alfida Cruse, St. Louis, MO. Growing up half Dominican and half Missouri German (white) constantly left me feeling not white enough for the white kids and not Dominican enough for the Hispanic kids. I have been called out and subsequently shunned when my mother picked me up from school in Arlington, VA (“you’re WHITE?!”) and […]

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I am Isaac; I am Ishmael

Jonathan Aaron, Owings Mills, MD, As a Jew, I have always been intrigued by how Hitler twisted Jewish identity, indicting Jews as having bad blood and thus being an impure race requiring extinction. In the summer of 2015, I visited Berlin and discovered a fascinating art exhibit that challenged people’s notions of identity and asked […]

Am I American o de alla

Juan Dominguez, Sacramento, CA. Mexican people say I am a shame to our people with gauges in my ears, the clothes I am wearing, the fact I do not have an accent when I speak. It’s like I was raised in America but by Mexicans that eat tortillas with every meal celebrate mothers day the […]

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Mixed with many races not one

Jy’Maire O’connor, Philadelphia, PA. People bade me off the color of my skin just because my skin tone is brown/black doesn’t mean I’m only black and those stereotypes you place on “African Americans” doesn’t really apply to me i’m more than one race and you would know that if you talked to me instead of […]

Torn. Frijoles charros or apple pie?

Inga Paterson-Zuniga West Orange, NJ I am a German-Scottish Spanish teacher, born and raised in the USA. I learned to see the world through multi-colored lenses after living for several years in Mexico, marrying into a Mexican family and acquiring a love of all things Mexican. As a middle school Spanish teacher I hope to […]

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Half Indian, Half German, totally American

Marika Oakland, CA People often ask me “What are you?” or “Where are you from?” which is par for the course for people like me who are ambiguously brown looking, which is how I’ve come to refer to myself. Over time I’ve noticed my attitude toward other people who ask these questions changing. I used […]

Somewhere between Salsa and Country!

Stephanie Connors Eureka, CA Music is one of my biggest reminders of the cultures that I grew up with. It fills me with nostalgia and pride, longing and love of the people who came before me. The people from: everywhere! I love all of it now. From day to day I swirl around in a […]

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Neighborhood party we were not invited

Ninfa Pena-Purcell, College Station, TX. This picture of my parents captures a young Mexican American couple with aspirations to live the American dream in the 1950s only to find out that their family of six children would never be welcomed in their neighborhood. Years later this experience has stayed with me and made me resolve […]

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I believe in the hyphen!

Roberto Jara, Alto, MI. It drives me nuts when people say, “Let’s all be color blind, forget our cultures of origen and just be ‘American,’ instead of ‘Latin-American,’ ‘Asian-American,’ etc. I can be American and preserve by culture of origin! Those of us who come from cultures other than the dominant Northern European Culture, have […]

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I’m not colored I’m an American

Ralph Brown (Coach~B :)), Dallas, TX. My six words are in response to these six words: “We don’t allow colored in here” which were said to me on March 19, 1963 by a young female movie ticket clerk at the Majestic Theater in Dallas, Texas. I was attempting to see the world premiere of “How […]

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I’m American, but where is home?

Abby Mercier, Canton, OH. Although I was born in America it can be very hard to feel like I belong here. Our views on race, Sexual orientation, laws that we’ve passed. Even what we have decided to conciser Social norms.

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Black, Caribbean-American, human, American, Southern

Britt Stone, Philadelphia, PA. No one ever asked “what” I am. They just assume. They approach me with all sorts of ideas about what food I like, what music I listen to, the books I read, and my favorite movies and tv. They have an opinion of what I should sound like when I speak, […]

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Born privileged, living poor. Gained perspective.

Elizabeth Foster, Little Rock, AR. Growing up in a mostly-white suburb of Chicago, I was isolated from cultural and socioeconomic differences. Through my privilege, I was able to travel to countries both more and less affluent than that of my upbringing. Now that I live independently & make much less money than my parents, I […]

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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“So, what are you?” “An American.”

Kristin Maerke, Springfield, MO. When I was younger I was very annoyed by the question, “What are you?” Which were usually the first three words spoken to me. I have since learned to embrace my cultural diversity, and sometimes even enjoy making people guess (it tends to make them quite uncomfortable).

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Texican and Kansan adopt beautiful Chinita.

Sandy Mayer, Los Angeles, CA. I was surprised that our daughter’s Guatemalan foster family lovingly called her Chinita but understand that this is accepted in some Latino cultures. Growing up in a bi-cultural household, my sisters and I were called “cosas de la vida” by my Mexican mother. My husband and I are determined to […]

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American, Mexican, and probably much more.

Manuel Holguin, Phoenix, AZ. I don’t really get being proud of your race to any extreme. I suppose my argument is that you as a person has nothing to do with your race or color of skin. It was decided for you! No one ever says “I’ve worked hard my whole life to be white!” […]

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You’re foreign. Not American. No way.

Franke Santos, Los Angeles, CA. Despite being born in the U.S., speaking only English, and being given a white-sounding name, I am routinely asked “where are you from?” When I respond, “Los Angeles,” I get the follow-up “where are you really from?”

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I’m just an American outside America!

Alma Gill, Columbia, MD. When I travel to other countries, I find it fascinating when asked, are you American? I’ve never been asked or identified that way in my own country. I’m always flattered and proud to answer, why yes ~ I am American.

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Cut off–that is black America.

Ian Peterkin, Bridgeport, CT. When you think about it, what do you know of the achievements of black Americans other than what you get in February? Virtually everything I’ve learned about black art, literature, culture, and religion, I learned on my own. Cut off from one’s cultural identity, point of origin, and the stories that […]

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To know someone is to care.

Renee Sumby, Washington, DC. Thanks Michele for an amazing keynote at Society for Human Resource Management’s Diversity & Inclusion Conference in Boston last week. People are still talking!

Can only white people be American?

Nyssa Thongthai Richmond, VA I am Thai-American. I was born here and raised in Thailand. I came back here when I was 15. I’ve lived in Norfolk, VA for 12 years now and when people asked me where I’m from, I would answer Norfolk. And lots of time they would counter me and say “No, […]

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One man. Indivisible. Black. Gay. American.

Alva Jones Jr. Greensboro, NC I’m a bit of a focal point of discrimination in this country. As a Black man I’m viewed as a threat. As a gay man I’m viewed as an abomination. These views have by no means been universal in my travels, but the reality of their existence is no less […]

I am American, pure and simple.

Stephanie USA I have visited the countries of my ancestors and I may have similar features, but that is where the similarities end. Americans have a unique, rich, and varied culture that I am proud to be from this country. I am American, pure and simple.

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Seen as black only by Americans!

Joel Anthony Murray, Sr. Westminster, MD. Iranians in DC thought I was Iranian. A Tunisian on a train with me to NY thought I was Tunisian. A Pakistani in Baltimore thought I was Pakistani. A Vietnamese coworker thought I was Middle-Eastern. A Nepalese coworker thought I was Indian or Pakistani. I work with people from […]

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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 […]

My skin is my greatest teacher

Eric Miyeni Johannesburg I don’t like the phrase “body part” much. At its worst it has a tendency to remind me of murders and psychotic murderers. At its best it reminds me of the work of medical doctors. Don’t get me wrong. I love doctors. I’m just not cut out to do what they do. […]

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Brown girl rejected with red blood

Anonymous, USA. Grew up as the only little brown girl in class, always having to explain why my hair grew up to the skies when it rained and the humidity took control of my tresses, then drew tightly too my head. Never getting assistance from the PTA moms passing out red and black combs on […]

What color is she? -Grandma

Ashley Ward Edgewood, MD My Grandmother grew up in a different time, where to be light was right and to be dark was wrong. My grandmother was extremely light, but my biological father is west indian and extremely dark. Dark like the ocean and I favored his complexion over my maternal genes. I was my […]

Mexican, but don’t enjoy Taco Bell

Eric Vazquez, Baltimore, MD. When I meet new people I’m always asked where I’m from. I get asked if I was born in Mexico, I get asked if I eat tacos and such. Not every Hispanic is from Mexico. At this point I’m fine with it but it still irritates me a little. I have […]

When do I become just-American?

Wen Wen Yang Dallas, TX I tell people I’m Chinese-American. My parents are Chinese, born and raised in China, while I was born and raised in the United States, so I think the term Asian-American is accurate. I am straddling the divide, but leaning towards American – I’ve never been to China and do not […]

Have a protective wall, can’t pass.

Amanda USA I have been bullied throughout my years. Being bullied caused a wall to be built around my heart and I couldn’t feel or let any emotions out. I let darkness take over my life, but now that I’ve grown up and found light, I feel relieved. I am who I am, I will […]

All I’ve got is the food.

Kelsey, Cleveland, OH. I’m Lebanese/Irish but grew up solely around my Lebanese family. However they rarely acknowledged where we came from. The closest I’ve gotten to my heritage is through food: being taught how to make baklava, seeing big bowls of hummus, baba ghanouj, and tabbouleh surrounded by stacks of fresh pita bread at parties, […]

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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 […]

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Ignorance of history, convenient or willful?

Emily Green-Cain, Nashville, TN. I grew up in the city where James Lawson led teach-ins for non-violence that led to sit-ins throughout the Southeast. No one in my schooling, neither my parents, my church or the local education system taught me anything about these events. I did not know the specifics of what happened here […]

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I carry hope through young musicians

Virginia Jones, Danville, VA. I’m a 54 year old white lady living back in the south after 15 years away from home. Its not the same everywhere. I’ve been an RN in central Phoenix, a wife of a Vietnam Veteran who was terribly discriminated by his own country and I’m a mother of a blonde […]