Mark Steensland, Elk Grove, CA. Mark provides a link to: When Readers Do Get It by: Nicholas Kristof, featured in the NY Times to illustrate his 6 words.
Mark Steensland, Elk Grove, CA. Mark provides a link to: When Readers Do Get It by: Nicholas Kristof, featured in the NY Times to illustrate his 6 words.
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 […]
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 […]
Jamaal Bowman, Bronx, NY. Love everyone right now!
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 […]
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.
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 […]
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 […]
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.
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 […]
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 […]
Andrew Dunn, Meridian, ID. My 4x great grandfather was born a slave in Virginia. My 3x great grandfather owned slaves in Missouri.
Jorge, St. Paul, MN.
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 […]
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 […]
Adrienne Lau, San Francisco, CA. Let’s try to make a change!
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 […]
Oscar Espinosa, Edinburg, TX. Hatred for ones color is worthless, but its us people who make it necessary because we feed the hatred.
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 […]
Paulina Persson, San Clemente, CA. People love to make assumptions by skin color. I love to see people’s facial expressions when they find out I was born in Stockholm and that I am half Swedish and Puerto Rican.
Marie Adams, Lilburn, GA.
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.
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 […]
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, […]
Brandi Green, Chicago, IL. I constantly am asked “what I am” or “are you mixed” Nope. I’m black and albino. It’s a fascinating existence.
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 […]
Jordan Jenkins, Madera, CA.
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 […]
Nedra Rutherford, Bridgeport, CT. People often think that I am not smart, my children have different fathers and last names. My husband is the father of them all.
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 […]
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 […]
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. […]
Jackie Murray, Lexington, KY.
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.
Roger Tryone Williams, Huntersville, NC. My name is Roger Tyrone Williams and I’m white. Additionally, I was raised by a black man. If you want to learn more, just ask.
Anonymous, Washington, DC.
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.
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. […]
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.
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
Carn Paggot, Cincinnatti, OH.
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
Leah Waterman, Apple Valley, MN.
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 […]
Thelma Garcia, McAllen, TX. Thanks to my father (Mexican born) for making me proud to be an American.
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, […]
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 […]
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 […]
Ruth Volz, Mt. Pleasant, MI.
June Blanton, Magnolia, TX. I was raised between two family’s. One black and one white, please stop telling me that i’m one or the other. Why should I deny half of me to make YOU happy.
Andrew Ward, Chambesburg, PA. I am white by birth, but I feel like I am a completely different nationality/race on the inside. Like I was supposed to be a different race.
Adrian, Mission, TX. Never judge a book by its cover!
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 […]
Susan Kosior, Fredericksburg, VA.
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 […]
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 & […]
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 […]
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 […]
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.
Jessica Minneapolis, MN
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. […]
Ryan Mearig, Fountain Valley, CA. School does a great job of giving you the surface level depiction of slavery. It took 22 years to learn that every foreign race was oppressed, and that we thought it was ok.
Katherine McDowell Portland, OR
Esra Yagoub College Park, MD University of Maryland
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 […]
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 […]
Christopher Harper College Park, MD University of Maryland
Terry McMillan Submitted via Twitter: @MsTerryMcMillan
Brooklyn, NY Submitted via Twitter: @Sistalocks
Lavinia Rodriguez Potsdam, NY
Tamara Henderson, Lewisville, NC. We all bleed the same way!
Amani, Jamaica. Caribbean born Americans are way more disciplined than African Americans so they should not be put in the same category.
Anonymous Portland, OR
Gianina Delucchi Pasadena, CA
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 […]
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 […]
Manju Parikh Minneapolis, MN Loved your commencement speech at College of Saint Benedict in May 2014
Steve Baker Minneapolis, MN
Todd Campbell Fort Wayne, IN
Ruby-Beth Buitekant Brooklyn, NY
Evelyn Ingram, Leesburg, VA. Yesterday, I cried typing these words and I couldn’t click Submit. I think I’m stronger today. I can’t wait to pass this along. -Evelyn
Jim Moore, San Jose, CA.
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 […]
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 […]
Charles Los Angeles, CA Leaders of color are seldom portrayed in our theater, films or story traditions.
Steve Smith USA
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 […]
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. […]
William David Jones, Chattanooga, TN. I found out after my father died that he had taken me out of his will when I, a white man, married a black woman in 1996.