Misreading slavery due to modern morals.

Rikki Clark, Milwaukee, WI. I teach African-American literature and folklore at the university level. Often white students will say in class how they would have never owned slaves. But there is a fundamental problem when we view history through a twenty-first-century lens. Our modern morals and values are out of context. I would hope, if […]

Race envy on school’s cultural day

Andrea Krida Goff, Providence, RI. I’m a teacher in a wonderfully diverse urban high school in Providence. Every year during Spirit Week, one of the days is devoted to cultural celebration. We have African-Americans wearing colorful headwraps, Asians wearing kimonos, Dominicans waving their country’s flag, and me. Every year I struggle with a wardrobe that […]

Sorority initiation, we look like KKK

Marilyn Anne Kay Wimberley, TX The year was 1968. We were gathered in the formal dining hall of the sorority house, lit only by candles, for our sorority initiation. All white females dressed in matching white gowns. One of my sorority sisters commented, ‘we look just like the Klan.’ This was at the University of […]

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Since when is female a different race?

Andi Ray Bartnek, Canada. I grew up in a household with 4 generations of females and have spent my whole life having to justify my name and my sex. Part of me liked being different, the rest of me hated having to argue over who and what I was. That hasn’t changed after 67 years.

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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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Coding as white isn’t the same.

Kristina Ogilvie, Arlington, VA. It just struck me, I guess: on paper (i.e. a resume) I am for all intents and purposes a white girl. My name couldn’t be less ethnic, and I’ve had the privilege of getting an amazing education and having experiences that my father (Afro-Panamanian) could only have dreamed of. But I […]

Henry is seen, Enrique is invisible

Enrique Marquez, Philadelpia, PA. I changed my name on my resume to Henry after rarely getting responses when I would write my actualy name, Enrique. Henry is the English version of Enrique. Henry received many more callbacks in one week than Enrique did in months. Nothing else was different.

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Southern Belle? No. Korean husband.

Leah Lee (now Leah Durst-Lee), Chicago, IL. Keeping cultural heritage is very important to me, so when I married my husband, Sihyun Lee, I wanted our kids to have a Korean surname. Our first year and a half of marriage, I took my husband’s name and became ‘Leah Lee.’ It was awful! Almost everyone I […]

I didn’t know my first girlfriend was black.

Danny Zapler, Mount Prospect, IL. In hindsight, it is clear she is black. I knew about black and white people, but I just never saw her in racial terms. She was just the girl I liked in 6th grade. I only realized I was dating a black girl when a teenage boy on my block […]

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Dwayne Fries; the other white Dwayne.

Dwayne Lee Fries, Columbus, OH. My name is Dwayne, and I’m white. Hi Dwayne! I was unwittingly named Dwayne. Two weeks before my taking over an inner city restaurant as a General Manager, my name was on a schedule. I heard all the stories of how everyone was like, “finally, we got a brother in […]

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I am not your curiosity game.

Victoria, Salem, OR. As a biracial person, people often ask me, “what ethnicity are you?” – aka what race can I define you as? People who first meet me will ask me this question without ever asking for my name. They seem to only care about what I am not who I am. However, I […]

Why

Emanicipation is still just a word

Winfrey Young, Atlanta, GA. Emancipation did not reinstate self-esteem, justice, dignity or reality. Freed slaves were not endowed with freedom to love or with pride of self. There was no one to help us heal. We cannot move toward each other if our self-image and ideals are shackled—and we continue to wallow in the sicknesses […]

I am not plain white rice.

Nicole Rice, San Juan Capistrano, CA. I am more than just ‘white’ even though everyone looks at me and says that is all I am. I have a lot more in me than just white, but no one will ever know unless they ask. I have even received the nickname ‘white rice’ because of my […]

1610 – bible used to bless slavery

Lisa Smith, Boston, MA. In 1610 Catholic priest asked his superiorsif slavery was condoned by God. Answer came back…none of more learned men of cloth saw anything against the enslavement of another human being. I’m white and l seeth with anger over what happens (ed) to Blacks.

Husband Said Last Name Wasn’t Mine

Annie, IN. We just got married about 3 months ago. I am Hmong, and he is white. During some sweet talk, the subject of my surname came up. My husband said, “It’s not [your last name] anymore,” with a smirk. I cried. It was the kind of tears that just came, the kind you cry […]

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“No eres gringa, no actúes así.”

Valerie Guerrero, Mission, TX. All my life I’ve grown up around my Hispanic family. It’s unusual for me to ever say something in English in front of them out of respect because they don’t really understand the language. The few times that I accidentally say something in English I get the old “no eres gringa, […]

Always check “White, Non-Hispanic origin” box

Jay Marie Fernandez, Bridgeport, CT. With white skin, being of Hispanic origin, in a household that did not speak Spanish, in a predominantly Spanish speaking neighborhood, this sentiment taught me being Hispanic or Latina was something to be hidden. The kids hated me because I thought I was better than them, proudly pri-claiming “I’m white”…now […]

Babies switched at birth. Mine’s black.

Anonymous, Kirkland, WA. In 1963 – yes, 1963! – The Dick Van Dyke show aired an episode where Rob mistakenly thought his new baby had been switched at the hospital. When the other parents arrived to (what Rob thought) make the exchange, Rob was shocked to see that they were black and there was no […]

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I’m Diane. I’m Alaskan, and Black.

Diane, Fairbanksm, AK. Images of Alaska never show Black faces, but yet in Fairbanks, the state’s second largest city, the Black population is equal to that of Alaska Natives. We have been effectively erased from our own history and present day lives. I work with tourists and a day doesn’t go by when I don’t […]

I gotta be better to be equal.

Andrea Canchola, San Antonio, TX. As a young, Latina, woman I feel that I have to be better than everyone just to be equal. I’m tiny, short and I will boss you around. Just because I’m a young Latina woman doesn’t mean that I’m not as good as you. I’m probably better because I had […]

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No one knows unless I tell

Natasha Smith, Philadelphia, PA. I am white. I look white. I am white? Pale skin, red frizzy hair, littered with freckles. Often I am asked “Are you Irish?” The answer is “No…” and I wonder if it is the time to go into my family’s racial identity or my own struggles with my racial identity. […]

Changed my name to hide from you

Yolanda Brantley, Minneapolis, MN. Growing up as a mixed race child in a predominantly white neighborhood in the ’60’s was scarring. I knew I could appear as only “Caucasian” but my name gave me away. So I changed it to hide from everyone.

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Mom said I never saw color.

Corrine Ferrell-Macatee, Baltimore, MD. Me, bad bangs, my best friend, little girl with braids, my cousin, cute little Japanese girl. My nana and sister are here too, it wasn’t til I was in my early teens I even realized we weren’t all white, black or Japanese.

Then he died in our alley.

Sue Blanshan, Okemos, MI. My family lived in segregated Georgia when I was young. A playmates mother called the police to report a black man smelling her clean laundry on the back yard clothes line. The police came and chased him three blocks and shot him by our house in the alley. He died there. […]

Ramsey-Diversity

Expansive Roots, Exquisite Tongues, Diversity Perpetuated

Christopher Ramsey, Phoenix, AZ. From Mexico, to Ireland to Guam and then back to Spain. I embrace the wealth in language, food, faith and tradition. I intend to continue what my parents started and charitably inform those inquisitive minds to breakdown their misconceptions into fertile ground for understanding and respect.

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Another day, another life, another hashtag.

Sydney McDonald, Bangor, ME. In the past few years, a lot of lives have been lost. These lives, like Micheal Brown, Ervin Edwards, Tamir Rice, Diana Showman, and many others, are paid attention to for a month or two, trending and used as fire for the media and for those fighting for equality. However, they […]

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No, where are you REALLY from?

Gerard Achilles Obnial, McAllen, TX. When I first worked in the hospital, it had always been routine that my patients would ask not for my name or how my day went as was customary (even though I knew that people don’t really want to know) — they would always ask for my age and where […]

Every Hispanic Isn’t Always Hispanic Okay?

Mathew Rayne, Houston, TX. Once in awhile you go for a drive and see the people around you enjoying what there doing. Everyone is their own person! Sometimes your expected to do something that… you just rather not do? It’s my family line? In my blood? Just because I’m Hispanic doesn’t mean i wanted to […]

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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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Adobo Beef Stew Rice Potatoes: Dinner

James Estanislao Herr, Los Angeles, CA. Dad’s side came over in 1717–Swiss-German and Irish with some Danish and Greek thrown in. Mom came over in 1954. Filipino, Spanish and Chinese with I guess some Portuguese somewhere along the way given my middle name. Grew up in an all white community outside Philadelphia. Not sure who […]

New option at doctors – Eastern European

Anonymous, Baltimore, MD. When people discuss race, they seem to refer to only people of color. I always check Caucasian on forms. At the doctors yesterday, there was a new option, Eastern European. It felt like a better fit for me. Just because my skin lacks pigment, doesn’t mean that I am the same as […]

Do you make your own tortillas?

Norma Torres Addis Seattle, WA The first time I heard this question, I thought it was funny. After hearing it a few times, it made me wonder. If my heritage is Mexican and I don’t know the first thing about making tortillas does that make me less of a Latina? So many times organizations I […]

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Hispanic chick doesn’t speak Spanish, WHAT?

Cynthia Deras, GA. Are you hispanic? Why don’t you speak spanish? What part of Mexico are your parents from? Say something in Spanish! Your not really Mexican if you dont speak spanish. Basically thats the reaction I get from the latino community when someone finds out I dont speak Spanish. I lost Spanish as a […]

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Your words don’t change who I am

Blake Coffey, Van Nuys, CA. In a world where being mixed is supposed to be looked at as beautiful, it’s not as easy when you are. People automatically assume that all mixed people are supposed to look mixed just like they assume all Mexicans are brown. I’m born to a mixed black/white father who looks […]

“You are white. I blame you.”

Mike B., Baltimore, MD. Time and time again, I have been approached by someone of a minority group with the statement “You have oppressed my people for centuries. Last time I checked, I have only been alive for 22 of those years. These people think because of skin tone and articulate speech that I had […]

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They glare at my bi-racial son.

Linnette Derry, New York City, NY. I often think about the inevitable discussion about race that I will have to have with my son one day. That day when he will begin to ask me why people think I’m his nanny/housekeeper instead of his mother; the day when he will ask me why people keep […]

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I am probably not what you think.

Adriana M., Canada. How about being the only-child black sheep of a Colombian mother and Irish/Ukrainian father? My mom could pass for Italian, but her Hispanic legacy is strongly expressed in me, all wrapped up in an Irish surname. I grew up without much diversity and didn’t even realise I looked different from everyone else […]

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Will My Children Know White Privilege?

Ellie Myers, Saint Louis, MO. I was born and raised in Saint Louis, Missouri where the tension around race politics is palpable. Race never played a big role in my life, because it never had to. That is, until I started dating black men. I remember friends in high school joking about me going to, […]

Don’t speak Spanish to white relatives.

Max Lazzara, Minneapolis, MN. Bilingual when I learned to talk, raised among my father’s Floridian family of Spaniards, Italians, and Cubans, I was just as Hispanic as I was white; but moved by divorce, I joined my mother’s German-Polish Minnesotan family. The message quickly became clear: don’t speak Spanish to white relatives. In a fully […]

I was mugged by a “victim”

Jonathan Osmundsen, Washington, DC. I appreciate some of the coverage that’s focused on the Baltimore riots, and issues that influenced an explosion of pent up anger. That frustration is valid, those wrongs must be corrected. Here’s the “but”… I’ve not heard one NPR story that mentioned the burning of a 60-unit building by rioters, which […]

I walk in, they hate me

Sidney Lozano, USA. When I walk into a room, any room I can feel every emotion arising from every single being. Everyone already hates me not because of the color of my skin but because they can not tell which “race” or “race(s)” that I belong to. Amongst this hatred is a hatred they feel […]

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Vietnamese is difficult, love is stronger

Tho Nguyen, Greenbelt, MD. Tho is from Vietnam and grew up in Tacoma Amanda is from Oroville, grew up in the Tri-Cities Tho and Amanda met at the Barnes and Noble in the U-Village while Tho was writing his dissertation Tho and Amanda lived in Vietnam for 4 years since 2008 Amanda learned Vietnamese. Tho’s […]

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¿Eres mexicana? Entonces, ¿por qué el disfraz?

Maria Seattle, WA You’re Mexican? Then why the disguise? I was asked this by a viejito selling his wares in Tijuana, México, probably about 20 years ago. He had been shocked to hear me speak Spanish. I would of been in my early 20s, all rebellious with punked out bleached blond hair, red converse & […]

Smile and the world frowns back

Elizabeth Thompson, Gulf Breeze, FL. I cannot claim to know how it feels to be black. I cannot claim to know. Unless you are black, neither can you claim to know. Because we non-blacks do not know. If you can imagine though, and wonder what it would be like, to walk with the burden of […]

I am grace, power and inextinguishable

Ryan Brooke Taylor, New York City, NY. Collected from: WITNESS: Art and Civil Rights in the Sixties at The Brooklyn Museum My experience as a black male artist is directly related to the sacrifices and gains made by those who participated, in any and every way in the civil rights movement. They have made me […]

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I always think “don’t be threatening”.

Kevin Moses, Logan, UT. As a 6’3″, young, Black man, at all times I am painfully aware of my presence in a room and the constant strain of worrying about being perceived as threatening is exhausting. I’m incredibly friendly, and the dissonance that comes from people assuming otherwise hurts.

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I am Both, Not Just One.

Laura N. Weston, Baltimore, MD. About 80% of the time people assume (mostly men) I am Puerto Rican even though I am half Caucasian and half African American. I stress to everyone who thinks it is important enough to ask me what I am that I am Mixed or Biracial and I state with what. […]

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A divisive dividing line against commonality…

Anonymous, Summerdale, AL. To fully understand the reasons why race is such a hot button topic in my opinion,is that one must look at the historical basis that set the foundation for the racial discord in this country and beyond its shores.We will never be able to get beyond race until we are truly able […]

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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 […]

Italian Boyfriend Uncomfortable Visiting Arizona Home

Mike McNamara Chicago, IL Especially in the non-winter months because he gets so dark. Growing up in Tucson, he was sometimes mistaken for Mexican, which makes sense when you look at him from afar. But only recently has he felt uncomfortable going home to visit his family based on that same mistake that people have […]

When we run out of “firsts”

Greg Hudgison Columbus, GA I am hopeful that one day race will the last part of the conversation, and not the first. My six words refer to when another race is the first to accomplish something. I believe we will make progress when we are out of the first race to accomplish a task or […]

Family

White Parents Raise Beautifully Diverse Children

Louise Bannon, Holly Springs, NC. Raising, playing, growing and living as a diverse family is an extraordinary experience. It brings both good days and tough days – obstacles and disappointments, laughter and lightheartedness. The journey is full of stares – stares full of curiosity, stares full of love and stares of hatefulness from the people […]

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You’re Dominican? But you’re Black, really.

Juleyka, Oxford, CT. This phrase is often said to me by African Americans and other (usually darker) people from the Caribbean who insist that though I am Dominican/Latina, I am Black in the United States because of its racial history and current xenophobic climate. It’s nullifying in so many respects, and usually leads me to […]

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Wow, you speak English really well!

Sharmila Guha, Oakland, CA. It was my first summer job after high school. A man in the lunch room one day tried to ask shy me this odd questions… which just left me stunned. I was born and raised in Los Angeles; why wouldn’t I speak English well? I guess the “dad from India and […]

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No you’re NOT Latina, YOU’RE white.

Karen Davis, Cupertino, CA. Recently, I was told by my closest friends that I am NOT latina I am white. I can not understand this because they know I speak fluent Spanish. My father was a migrant worker. My mother was from Mexico and her English was okay however it was obvious she preferred spanish. […]