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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Pick ’em up & lay ’em down.

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.

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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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¿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 & […]

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Daughters of Muslim father are American.

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 […]

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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 […]

Mexican. Culture. Identify. American. Human.

Lorna Seidel-Owen, Outside USA. My mother is from Mexico. She married my father in 1959 and came to live in the United States. The plan was for my dad to eventually work and live in Mexico. She never planned on staying here for the rest of her life. Although she never planned on staying here, […]

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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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You’re not Mexican, You’re Mexican-American

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 […]

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“They” should all be like you.

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, […]

I’m American – where’s my checkbox?

Blair White Haddad, Los Angeles, CA. Being the child of an adopted mother, for a long time I only knew half of my genetic make up. After being reunited with my bio grandmother we discovered our Native American/ French background. My whole life I’ve been asked the question- what are you? Instead of identifying myself […]

What are you? The ubiquitous question.

Laura Mariko Cheifetz Atlanta, GA I call myself hapa yonsei. I’m biracial white Jewish and Japanese American, fourth generation on both sides. However, there are two assumptions that I run into all the time. First, “what are you?” People want to know my ethnic background (not racial… that doesn’t satisfy their intrusive curiosity), but they […]

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He should already know the answers

John David Rodriguez, Sacramento, CA. Being an Asian-American today is not even a far cry to what it was 20-75 years ago, especially if you were a Japanese American who had to endure living in the American Japanese Camps. Not even many Americans remember those days. I am a Californian that is Japanese, Mexican, Irish, […]

You’re not American, are you?

Salah M. Abed, Moses Lake, WA. I grew up in small towns in the Pacific Northwest; I quickly got used to being the only Arab-American. Every day somebody would ask me, “Where are you from” or “What are you?” This variant came from one of the first people I met when I moved to the […]

I am neither Mexican nor American.

Lucie C., San Antonio, TX. I was born in Texas just this side of the river. I’ve lived in Texas all my life although I’ve traveled a lot. One day while traveling through the Texas Hill Country, a gentleman, perhaps Pakistani perhaps Indian (I know NOT to call person either because I might be off […]

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Born Norwegian, Raised American, not illegal

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 […]

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I Am Because We Are Micronesians!

Vid Raatior, Hilo, HI. Being a Micronesian in America is as much my personal journey as it is a communal opportunity for common advancement. My success is rooted in the degree to which I help my brothers and sisters succeed in their journeys. How we succeed as a people to overcome negative stereotypes and prejudice […]

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 […]

You just assume that I’m American.

Sophie Kershaw, Knoxville, TN. I was born in England, lived in Denmark for a few years, and my family settled in the US. I speak American to Americans and British to my family. Most people assume I’m American, and people often make me uncomfortable by talking about “people from over there” and debating immigration reform […]

“You’re Brazilian? You don’t look it!”

Daphne de Souza Lima Sorensen, Oneonta, NY. I’m a white woman with a perfect American accent. I have a university degree, a husband and a 3 year old daughter. By all accounts, I am a “typical” middle-class woman. Except that I am not American and even though I have lived in the USA on and […]

To belong everywhere and nowhere simultaneously

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 […]

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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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Never belonging. Puerto Rican or American?

Lorna Hagen, Brooklyn, NY. I am Puerto Rico born New Yorker that moved to the US when I was 12. Somewhere in the plane ride over I lost something – I have no shared childhood experiences with my North American friends (lullabies, games, etc.) and no shared adolescent experiences with my Puerto Rican friends. It […]

She gave the eraser back.

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.

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Hmong American muaj lub siab tawv

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 […]

I’m not the RIGHT minority.

Brianna Acosta, Leander, TX. All the U.S. is talking about is black and white, but what about the Mexican Americans? Discrimination against us has risen 50% in the last ten years while discrimination against most other races in the U.S. has gone down.

“Excuse Me But What Are You?”

Sara Dawit, Lake Mary, FL. I am bombarded with questions on my racial and ethnic ambiguity almost everyday of my life. Thankfully, I’m able to simplify my ethnicity to East African and Turkish so I’m not stuck repeatedly listing all those East African countries (unless I’m asked to of course, but that, in my experience, […]

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Ashamed of American Black culture today

Keville Bowen, Chester, PA. I’m a Black man of three countries. Born in Trinidad, moved Canada and ended in America. Though I have little memory of Trinidad, my recollection of Canada and America are vastly different. I was only know as a Trini in Toronto and as I gained friends, I referred to them as […]

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Sorry, this AMERICAN sings it better.

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 […]

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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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Not African. Not American. Not Haitian.

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.

White minority does exist in America

Gregory, Philadelpha, PA. As a Polish immigrant in America I have been faced with many challenges, but one that has always seemed most challenging and bizarre was issue of being white and being treated by others as a minority. As long as people didn’t hear my accent I would fit in, but once my identity […]

You’re not from here, are you?

Rachel Butler, Japan. I’m from Virginia, from a primarily white town. I went to a pretty white high school, but had a mixed group of friends all the same. I went to the University of Nebraska, which isn’t known for any great ethnic diversity, but it was welcoming to all. I was a collegiate track […]

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I’M African American. Am I African-American?

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 […]

50% Persian, 50% German, 100% American.

Marissa Rejali, Salt Lake City, UT. I’m racially ambiguous. Even though most people consider me white, I have felt my fair share of racism. After the 9/11 attacks most of my school friends were not allowed to walk to school with me. My laser hair removal bill is competing with my car payment, and I […]

Hispanic or Latino? I feel American

Hector Vargas, Grand Rapids, MI. I grew up on the east coast. The high school I attended was primarily populated by minorities. My mother is Mexican and my biological father is Brazilian. My mother remarried and i was raised with Mexican customs. On the East cost I was considered Latino, in the mid west I […]

I am a proud Asian American

Jake, USA. Empowerment and civil rights for African Americans has not always translated into equality for those with Asian backgrounds. We may be viewed as model minorities but often we face discrimination and racism, especially from the African American community. One would think given the civil right movement, they would have understood what it meant […]

Not Asian, nor American, but Asian-American.

Margaret Lin, Houston, TX. Although ethnically Asian, I stick out like a sore thumb in Asia. When I visited China last summer, my mother told me that everyone there could tell I wasn’t raised in China. Perhaps it was the way I dressed, or my heavy accent when I attempted speaking Chinese, or how my […]

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You have a black girl’s hair

Lauren, Fairpoint, NY. I was required to do this for a MSW course on ethnic diversity. As a white, Italian-American woman, it was very difficult for me to think of an example of a racial micro-aggression that I have experienced. I have coarse, curly black hair. The statement was meant to be an insult.

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I saw a group of “undesirables.”

Danielle Giese, Cheverly, MD. This is what my white neighbor called a group of African American young men who were congregating outside of the a local grocery store. Apparently, one of them was showing off his new baby. I wondered if that will be how my sons will be described years from now. Will they […]

I’m Proud To Be Irish/Italian American

Sean, CT. I’m not proud to be white, because there’s so many different kinds of white and I’m not proud of my skin color, I’m proud of my culture. Sunday dinners. Seafood. Irish bread. That’s what I identify with, not the color of my skin. And to call me racist for that is complete shi*.

I am German, not a Nazi

Peter Alison, Richmond, VA. I come from an Austrian mother and an American father, so when people ask me about my ethnic background I tell them I’m half-Austrian. Throughout middle and high-school this elicited responses asking me if I hated Jewish people, or if I praised Hitler. It was annoying at first, but later it […]

Progressives destroyed race relations in America.

Stacey Seattle, WA The Civil Rights movement was hijacked by progressives. Since that time, they have destroyed Dr. King’s “Dream”. The virtual enslavement of the near-entirety of America’s black populace to the statist ideological plantation is destroying any hope of reconciling the differences between majority & minority. No longer is a man encouraged to exhibit […]

America is not for black people!

Taylor Valdosta, GA Systematic racism exits and is targeted towards blacks. It’s in the government and in schools, Its always and will always continue to be that way in this country. American is not for blacks! Whites don’t want us here but we are here and we have put more work into building the country […]

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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’ll Call Myself Whatever I Want

Samantha Lauren New York, NY Hate when people have the audacity to say to ANYONE that they ought to “just call themselves American” instead of Afro-American, Asian-American, Polish-American, or whatever. I am an American and as an American it’s my RIGHT to identify however I choose; I am an American of African descent, therefore I’m […]

My Race Works For My Race

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 […]

I am always missing some of me

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 […]

She wishes for American eyes.

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.

She is more American than me.

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 […]

I’m Mexican-American, heritage comes first

Bessie King Boston, MA I don’t think I have been offended by being asked “Where are you from?” before. I was raised to know that I am a Mexican with an American passport in a country where everyone is from somewhere. Until the USA truly embraces diversity and it’s own history, there will be no […]

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Not Really Indian, American Born Desi.

Rahul Iyer Mesa, AZ Not Really Indian, American Born Desi is what could be used to describe me. Not Really Indian (NRI) is a term that is often coined to describe people of Asian Indian background who were born outside of India. The actual legal term used by the Indian Government is Nonresident Indian (NRI). […]

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Whites say Hispanic, Hispanics say White

Renee Lewin Asutin, TX My mother is Mexican-American from the Rio Grande Valley, my father is white from Orange, NJ. I was raised in a home where English was primarily spoken, but Spanish was still commonly heard. As I was growing up I viewed myself primarily as Mexican. I spent most of my time with […]

The Minority: To Represent or Not?

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, […]

I AM A BROWN SKIN AMERICAN

Annie Chicago, IL I AM NOT AFRICAN, NEVER BEEN THERE AND DON’ CARE TO GO. I WAS BORN ON AMERICA SOIL. DON’T CALL/LABEL ME ONETHING SO ONE RACE CAN FEEL SUPERIOR OR LESS DOMINANT. I HAVE YET TO SEE A BLACK PERSON OR A WHITE PERSON. WHERE ARE THEY?

As American as rice and beans

Jorge Valladares Orlando, FL My parents came to this country as undocumented immigrants from Honduras, Central America. Their three children provide public service of some kind – I work with students with disabilities at a public college; my sister is a high school Spanish teacher and my brother is a former post-9/11 US Marine and […]

Does Race Matter???

Mari Bailey Temecula, CA I am Japanese. I married to American man. However, when I tell people that Im married, people ask if Im married to Japanese guy. I answer, ‘no Im married to American guy.” well….that is not enough for some people. Those people have to know which Ethnicity he is, DOES IT MATTER? […]

Not Mexican enough, Not white enough

Tricia Redlands, CA I am a Mexican American that grew up in a home that did not speak Spanish. Both my mother and father were Mexican Americans born in California and their parents didn’t speak Spanish in the home as well. One time I asked my grandfather why he didn’t teach his children Spanish. His […]

Don’t tell me what I am.

Nicole “Nico” Cisneros USA I know what I am! I’m Cuban-Filipino-American; first-generation Filipino on my mom’s side and second-generation Cuban on my dad’s side. I love celebrating my heritage, but what really puts a pause in my delight– and what sometimes feels like a gut-check– is when others respond with something like, “…but you’re not […]

Race: a conceit. Racism: a scourge.

Stella Katz New York City, NY I’m Hungarian/American, raised working-class in New York City. I believe that race is a conceit (created to justify the exploitation of one group by another) and racism is the practice of that conceit, robbing us of our shared humanity by creating a hierarchy of false distinctions.

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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 […]

I am not white; I’m American

Brandon Peplau Grand Rapids, MI I am not white; I am American! I have Chippewa, Syrian, German, and Austrian blood in my veins. The only members of my family living in America during slavery were natives here. If you have a problem with white people, leave me out of it.

Looking Muslim is NOT a crime…

Talha Baqar San Francisco, CA Being a Pakistani-American, you feel neither here nor there. Here you are a terrorist hell bent on destroying the country, and there you are some American traitor that is basically destined for hell.

You look too foriegn for me.

Danielle Silver Forest Park, OH A white guy I liked told me this. I am white( German, Irish, Penn. Dutch), Hispanic, Native American. I used to get asked where I was from in school. I said, “I’m an American.” My ancestors have been here for generations. My full brother has never been asked where he […]

I’m not Japanese-American. I’m just Japanese.

Katie Hana Kuyama Northridge, CA I’ve always thought it weird to add “American” to my identity when my ethnicity is indeed Japanese. I’m a second generation Japanese living in America, but people always emphasize that because I live in America, I MUST add “American” to my identity. Not necessarily. In paperwork or community involvement, I […]

Born in America, Your’re just American

Jeff Boothe TX If you were born here you are not African-American, Mexican-American, and Chinese-American. No one says they are European-American, Scottish-American, and Spanish-American. Why do people dilute themselves to being less than American.