I trusted adults that taught hate.

Stan Pitts Anchorage, AK I grew up in Birmingham, Alabama, and was 10 years old during the fateful year 1963. My father was a Birmingham Police officer terribly conflicted between upholding the law and the treatment of the civil rights participants. My trusted adults and role models, the church leaders, scout masters, and teachers, taught […]


A “Racist” charge changed my life

Robert Crosman, Anchorage, AK. Explanation: I was a good liberal, with the milk of human kindness in my veins, when a black student I viewed as marginally disruptive called me out in the middle of a class on Renaissance literature, calling me a racist because I was trying to ignore his too-frequent questions and comments. […]


Didn’t know/you don’t sound black.

Charity Son Anchorage, AK I was disappointed that this seems to even surprise a congenitally blind white woman I work with–“I didn’t know you were black!.” Happens on the phone as well. In person, black people, white people, all kinds of people seem to resent the way I speak. What does it even mean, to […]


Blond hair – can’t use Afro Sheen

Diane Smith, Anchorage, AK. I was the only white girl in my 6th grade class at Windsor Hills Elementary School in Los Angeles. I wished so much that I looked like my classmates. My greatest compliment back then (the 1960s) was that I might be white on the outside, but I was black on the […]


Your families background doesn’t even matter!

Sara Proffett, Healy, AK. I am Russian, Scottish and Spanish. I’ve always been kind of tan and I have light brown hair. I’m short but not stout. I’ve always been made fun of for being a tiny little girl. I am a mix of different races so I was never really made fun of for […]


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 […]


Black folks DO live in Alaska!

Diane “Bunny” Fleeks, Fairbanks, AK. My father arrived here in Fairbanks, Alaska in 1959. My mother and I “came into the country” (as we old farts call coming to Alaska to stay) in 1960. I grew up here, left after high school and moved back nearly 20 years ago. African-Americans have been part of Alaska’s […]


Chilly chainee, courageous changer, world warmer.

Melinda, Ephrata, WA. 50- year-old woman born in the south, grown in Alaska’s wildness, married too young. Courageously moving from isolation to a warmer world. Race goes deeper than color and texture, it’s how we love or don’t, what we teach or don’t, it’s chilly and it’s warm and it’s all degrees between. Race isn’t […]

I never understood why. Do you?

Kristen, Two Rivers, AK. Grew up in the 60s in south Georgia. As a child, I didn’t know there were differences. I didn’t know to discriminate. They tried to teach me, but I don’t think I ever really learned.

Try so hard – still see color

Sherri, Juneau, AK. As hard as I try to see people as people, not black or white or Asian etc., I can’t seem to deprogram my brain. I remember the day I was helping at a school giving enrichment lessons to a group of advanced students. When they came into the room there was one […]


Privilege is real. I get it.

Eric Moore, Anchorage, AK. “I get it” cuts three ways. First, I understand this is true. Second, I am in most ways the example of a person who is privileged and this has brought me opportunities, second chances and more. But Third can be an exasperated “I get it” because no matter the advantages I’ve […]

Forgive, I am not my ancestor.

Donna Hanson Bella Vista, AK My ancestors were slave owners and themselves indentured servants and sharecroppers. I’ve worked on my family genealogy for over 14 years and find both the goodness and harshness of humankind interwoven throughout the generations.

Me racist? But I teach ESL!

Lynn Schaefer Conway, AK As a university-level ESL teacher, I interact with students from all over the world every day. I am well read in the areas of cultural differences and intercultural communication. Yet recently I have come to realize that I don’t know as much as I could about different cultural groups within my […]

I pray all people feel essential.

Marne Eggleston Conway, AK More than anything else, I want to be understood as a person, and I deeply desire to understand others as individuals. Whatever our differences, I hope that when I make contact with another person that our interaction leaves us both with mutual feelings of respect, peace, optimism, and of our necessity […]


Black. Not Black Enough. Too Black.

Toolie, Anchorage, AK. To the black community, I “act” too white to be like them. To the white community, my skin is too dark to be like them. I am black. I am not black enough. I am too black. No matter where I go, I can’t seem to fit in anywhere. All my life […]

From Utah. No, not a mormon.

Cody Charles Sarle Anchorage, AK I was born and raised in Utah and as far as I know my entire family was born and raised there too. They more than likely found their way to the “State of Deseret” by way of the Mormon pioneers. Utah is a great place to live, and a place […]

Rural Alaska, six blacks, my family.

Lydia Taylor Memphis, TN I was born and raised in Alaska. When I was 4, my father got out of the Air Force and accepted a job as a State Trooper in Dillingham, Alaska. He moved from Anchorage to Dillingham first, to start his job as we as find us a place to live. We […]

What am I, I am human.

Anne Ward Masterson Anchorage, AK Growing up Black, White and Cherokee in NH in the 1960’s and 70’s made for some painful tensions. In Kindergarten other children would see my mother and tell me she couldn’t be my mother. People would ask me ( and really, still do…) What are you? On the days I […]

Too old to play w/colored girlfriend.

Jewel Nies St. Charles, MO I grew up in SE MO, the Bootheel. 20 miles from Arkansas border. Very southern town. My neighborhood bordered a black neighborhood. I had a black friend that I had played with for years. When I was around 9 or 10 my Mother came to me and said the neighborhoods […]

Having a foot in two canoes.

Emily Wood Anchorage, AK Growing up in small town Minnesota where the local summer celebration was “Swedish Heritage Days” could be awkward for a girl with a white dad and a Native mom. My parents raised my brother and I to celebrate the fact that we had two sides to us, that we lived with […]

Don’t drink out of THAT fountain!

Alice Lynch Jonesboro, AK This is what my father said when I ran up to the water fountain with no line in the big downtown Houston department store. I was small enough not to see the sign above it that read “Colored”, but old enough to read it when he grabbed my arm harshly and […]

White girl. Black school. Called “slave owner.”

Erin Murphy Barling, AK I grew up in a mostly African American neighborhood outside Miami, Florida. My friends never made me feel out of place but the other 60% of the students at the schools I attended sure did. My great-grandparents were immigrants -on one side of the family I was third generation American. That […]