Charlie Cook, Sacramento, CA. My dad was born from a White Russian and American couple. At 6 days old, he was placed into the wonderful home of my grandparents, one of the Cherokee tribe and one of the Mohawk tribe. Race doesn’t define you, your history, culture, and family help you grow into the person […]
Tanya Adams, Durham, NC. Will my sons come to know a time when we are in a United State as Americans??? My heart grieves!
Linda Kristensen, Grand Rapids, MI. I am writing this for my daughter who is 34 with Autism. She became my daughter in 1980 when I was living in Norway. We returned to the USA in 1983 but my daughter even after 30 years is still not an American citizen. Here’s part of her story…. My […]
Amber Nicole Gutierrez, Hemet, CA. Everyone grew up with a different life-style, just because I look of Mexican decent does not mean I am the same as every Mexican stereotype. I am an American and have grew up in the middle of both worlds of “American” and “Mexican”. I understand Spanish and speak some. I […]
Michael Ware, Sacramento, CA. Being a white blues musician in Sacramento, I’ve had the opportunity to meet all kinds of folk. I don’t see color, if somebody can play, they can play, no reason to judge them on anything else
Yousuf Khan, Potomac, MD. I was born and raised in Springfield, VA before moving to Maryland. When you ask me where I’m from, expect me to proudly say Virginia.
Carolina, San Jose, CA. My mother was born in Morelos, Mexico and my Father was born in Lima, Peru. I was born in San Jose, CA. Whenever anyone asks me “where are you from?” I never truly understand the question. I’m American? I’m mixed? I’m Latina? Especially since I’ve been studying abroad in parts of […]
Harry Ford, Minneapolis, MN. Race is a difficult subject given the large amount of pain many people of color have experienced related to race within this American landscape. We are people in pain hoping that our contributions will be seen by the others.
Jameson Magdaleno Sacramento, CA This is my personal observation as a Mexican American regarding the plight of families with illegal immigrant parents who have children born in the U.S. today and their struggle to stay united. – Jameson Magdaleno
Matthew Dina, Phoenix, AZ.
Damon Williams, Florence, CO. I served four years in the 82nd Airborne Division from Jan 2001 to Jan 2005. Served in three tours and would do it all again for my family and fellow Americans! Airborne, H-Minus, All the way!
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
Jessica Thompson, Houston, TX. We are all Americans, and we should all be viewed as such. Americans fighting each other hinders National Progress.
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 […]
Jina Lee, Germantown, MD. No, SRSLY though… I’ve gotten the “Do you speak English?” to “Wow! You actually speak English.” I’m American, and the year is 2015. Should these questions really be asked…now?
Janes Lee, Minneapolis, MN. I am a Hmong American male, residing in the most Hmong populated state though we are still very unseen. The service our people provided during the Vietnam War, known to the Hmong people as the Secret War, has been invisible to the public eye. How fitting of it for the invisible […]
Amanda Baran, Arlington, VA. “No, I’m not Mexican. Nope, not Latino. I’m an American who’s half Syrian and half Indian. Well actually, my father’s former nationality was Syrian. His parents were refugees from Turkey who were expelled during the Armenian genocide. No, they weren’t Armenian, they were Christians who were forced out and into Syria […]
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?”
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 […]
Hyung Nam Portland, OR Melting pot was for the construction of whiteness
Hunter Jaymz Harris, Lakeland, FL. I’m mixed with a bunch of things. Yet it’s best never to forget the people and places you come from.
Aaron Matthew Villalobos, Norman, OK. While I’m admittedly more apple pie than beans & rice, I have never felt my heritage as a Mexican-American detracted from my ability to honor my country with the gift god has given me–my voice. I love singing our national anthem. I feel like it’s the biggest contribution I can […]
Leah Perlongo, Sunapee, NH. Ever been asked “Where are you from?” and the answer they expected was not the town you were born, but a country you’ve never been to? I find it frustrating that we in USA assume that people who look a little different are probably from another country.
Judy Goffena Boogman Billings, MT When I was young there was a girl adopted possibly by a couple in my small hometown in Montana. She was Native American and her “parents” were not. Matter of fact the whole town was not. She seemed angry and out of place. One day I was waiting on the […]
Angelique Moulton Houston, TX I am American and what America looks like.
Kate Lee van Loveren, Ann Arbor, MI. I was born in New York, grew up in New York, and live in New York (when I’m not at school). I’m of half Chinese and half Dutch descent, but for some people that registers into me not being American for some reason. Just by looking at me, […]
Jeremy C., Millington, TN.
Eli Russell, Austin, TX. As a writer, these six words are something I’ve said before. I lend it here to hopefully add to the growing conversation, to close the divide in the races, to open racist minds and to unite all Americans, all people across the world in peace. It is up to each generation […]
Rebecca Whiting, Northport, AL. I thought very deeply about what I wanted to use to best express myself for this card. With my personal experience, I do know the benefits of white privilege, and what access that gives me to various different facets of our American society. I do not say this to make other […]
Erica Hernandez, Upland, CA. I was born and raised in the United States. I don’t know anything else. I speak Spanish and come from Mexican parents but I’m an American. So, why is it that when i’m in Orange County, California, for example, I feel inadequate? I get weird looks and immediately feel completely intimidated. […]
Yasmin Gill Baltimore, MD My mother is white, American, and my father is Pakistani. Where ever I go, and whomever I am with, I rarely find someone who is at home with *all* of me. I am American, undeniably so, but there are peices of me that are also uniquely Pakistani. Americans see or experience […]
Suzie Husami, San Diego, CA. My mother and father met in college in upstate New York – he, a Lebanese -Muslim-Republican named Muhammad and she, an American non-practicing Methodist-Democrat named Maureen. They fell in love and had three daughters – Najla, our olive-skinned sister, and my twin sister and me – pale and freckled. My […]
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 […]
Travis Rems, Venice, FL. Never considered myself a racist….but as I get older, I wonder…or is the world just changing?
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 […]
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 […]
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.
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 […]
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.
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
Paul Hursey Bloomington, IL Being a Black man in America is like running through “An American wildfire wearing gasoline drawers”. It is difficult to let your guard down because someone is always chasing you.
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 […]
Ben Sian Atlanta, GA Born in the US to Filipino parents.
Shannon Harris, Ashland, OR. We need to open up the idea of what it means to be “American.” American is all of us and all of the different ways that we experience this country.
Juan Carlos Quevedo, Albuquerque, NM.
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 […]
Aya Mimura Ann Arbor, MI Understanding Race Project- University of Michigan
Briana B., Sacramento, CA. I am a Mexican American woman and I so happen to be bilingual. A lot of times at work people will ask me if I speak spanish or will make hand signals to me and mouth really slow that they need a to-go box. It gets under my skin because in […]
Tony Bueno Submitted via Twitter: @tonybueno10
Anna Goldstein, Ann Arbor, MI. Understanding Race Project=- University of Michigan
Thelma Garcia, McAllen, TX. Thanks to my father (Mexican born) for making me proud to be an American.
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.
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, […]
Yamuna Manju, Mountain View, CA.
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 […]
Joseph Kim College Park, MD
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 […]
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).
Pierluigi Erbaggio Bloomfield Hills, MI Understanding Race Project- University of Michigan
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!” […]
Cynthia Lawrence, Carmichael, CA. Working together we can learn from each other and build a better community.
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.
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 […]
Karen Roland, Palm Springs, CA. A Filipina-American girl with three half White, half Filipino children. Building a life in America and building it with diversity. Living in a world where both cultures matter, I teach my children both.
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, […]
Fatima Abdel-Gwad Sacramento, CA Yes, I’m Muslim. Yes, I’m American. I’m really from America.
Pamela Torres, West Palm Beach, FL. CubanAmerican daughter often teased for being light skin. It hurts.
Mark Moldwin, Ann Arbor, MI. Understanding Race Project University of Michigan
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 […]
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.
Ann Sparanese Englewood, NJ
Banen Al-Sheemary Ann Arbor, MI Understanding Race Project- University of Michigan
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 […]
Rehenuma Meadville, PA As an Asian American Muslim women, I have been asked many times to represent my “people.” As I have gotten older, I no longer feel eager to do so. I am now more sensitive to who benefits from this type of representation and the effect it has on my own psyche. Sometimes, […]
Anthony Caraballo, Philadelphia, PA. Technically, American who is ethnicity is Latino. My family is from Puerto Rico.
AJ Allee, Bulverde, TX. Hyphenation is made up by racist and news media I worked my butt off to become an American I earned the right to be one, why would I want to be called half American??? earned my citizenship 1995 and very proud of it
REPOST: Streamed live on June 29, 2014 Who Will “Us” Be? w/ Anand Giridharadas, Eric Liu, Michele Norris, Monica Lozano & Paul Taylor There have long been two notions of what it means to be American: one is civic and colorblind, found in our Constitution and creed; the other, quite simply, is about being white. […]
Anonymous, Seattle, WA. My five-month-old Ameri-Kenyan daughter and I were part of a group of 300 Americans with the National Parks Service who commemorated the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights March. For five days, we marched from Selma to Montgomery. She rode just over my heart, clapping and singing as we went.
Dahomey Abanishe, Secrest, FL. As a child in Kansas, I always assumed I was African-American and not because of what I was culturally but because of how I looked. I am Truly a Nigerian American culturally. My father is Nigerian and I was raised eating pepper stew and listening to Fela. No one fried chicken […]
Radhika Guruju Chandler, AZ Education is what helped us get to this country and therefore for most Asian Indian families it still remains the top goal for their children, and education at a Ivy league school is what the focus is on starting as early as 7th grade. Study hard and develop a work ethic […]
Mary Crescenzo, USA. I most always add a “human” box to check, or fill in the blank with “human” on such requests on forms.
Jessica Eaton, Minot, ND. My maiden name is “Hess” and carries a lot of weight for being a “Nazi name”. Growing up, other students in school would call me a “Nazi” because of my last name and distant relation to a couple of people who took part in the Nazi regime. I didn’t like it, […]
Nichole Pettit, Lake Como, NJ. Monmouth University I’m biracial. I’m not just African American, I’m also American, German, English and Irish! Many say “You’re black,” sure but I’m not just that. Do not reduce my race and ethnic background to a single word. I do not belong to a single group, I belong to many. […]
Shelagh Mullings, Coral Springs, FL A white supervisor said this to me in 1965 when I was the lone “Negro” working in a white collar job for a large international corporation in San Francisco. I am a naturalized American with light skin (yellow) who was born in Jamaica, BWI. I was well-spoken, quiet (shy), and, […]
Vanessa Ayala, Fountain Valley, CA. I was 17 when I first realized how important it was for others for me to be politically correct about my race. I was at work one day and an older gentleman stopped me to “compliment” me, he said I looked like a beautiful Aztec princess I just smiled and […]
Anonymous, Monmouth Universtiy
Anonymous, Monmouth University
Richard Perez Bay Shore, NY The conservative backlash surrounding the Coke commercial featuring the song “America the Beautiful” speaks volumes about how far the right has to go in matters of race/religion/gender and anything else non white male.
Rose McKenney Lakewood, WA I’m glad we’re finally acknowledging the number of multi-ethnic people in the US. Sadly people my age (50s) have been asked to choose one; yet I know several multi-ethnic people around my age. They lost a lot because they or their parents felt the need to choose one tradition or ethnicity.
Tamara Oneida, KY I don’t think that white Americans should have to apologize for being in the majority in this particular country, nor should they feel bad for having their own unique culture. I think people should just live their lives and quit worrying about whether the majority approves.
Ahpaly Coradin, Pembroke Pines, FL. It is easy to forget that discrimination, ostracism and prejudice are not the exclusive currency of the white race. As much as I have been discriminated against by whites in America and abroad, I have suffered similarly from my own kind, in all my lands of origin.
Deborah Gonzalez Carmichael, CA My daughter identifies herself as a Jew + Cuban + American. Being a Jew is more than a religion; it is an ethnicity, and per Hitler, a race. And for some reason “Cuban” has its own box to check on the U.S. Census; not Latin American, Caribbean, Hispanic etc. I’m not […]