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. […]
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 […]
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, […]
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, […]
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
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 […]
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 […]
Heather Thompson, San Francisco, CA. While travelling to Mexico for one week, 5 separate people asked me if I was Cuban, 1 asked me if I was Portuguese (including one American!). I speak beginner-intermediate level spanish, but am Biracial (black, white, and a smidge of Native American). My white friend travelling with me was not […]
Peter M. Crowley, Martinez, USA. The son of a disabled, white American Anthropologist from Peoria, IL and a dark skinned Trinidadian East Indian Headmistress, I learned at an early age about race, ethnicity, and identity. It has always fascinated me that given the United States own identity as a melting pot, that so many Americans […]
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*.
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 […]
K.E. Broadnax, Cleveland, OH. This was said to me while attending college. I am black, and went to a predominantly white, upper-class university (as many are, to be fair). His statement was prefaced by the question, “What nationality are you?” If I was me now, back then, I would’ve replied “American.” But I knew what […]
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 […]
Janice Davidsson, Norfolk, VA. You can’t help who you fall in love with and this American girl fell in love with an African boy. So that makes our son African American. Here’s the catch that a lot of people have an issue with… He’s white. He has blonde hair and blue green eyes and is […]
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 […]
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!” […]
Jordan Hockett, Round Rock, TX. We are all Americans. Its the bottom line, and true. You cant judge someone by their skin color if their born or a citizen in our great country. That’s the diversity that keeps us, The Free People, separated from each other. We shouldn’t use race as tool to differentiate us […]
Mark Moldwin, Ann Arbor, MI. Understanding Race Project University of Michigan
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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.
Manu Jeffers, Atlanta, GA. AMERICA could effectively end racism easily but its a revenue based immorality. Basically when a group or person loses it becomes another person or groups gain. Marketing, sales, city developers all use those statistics and data samples to determine who and where these people are.
Ryan Lewandowski, Tustin, CA. I may look white, but I am 1/4 Lebanese (Middle Eastern) and 3/4th European (Irish, Polish, and Finnish)… So I don’t eat traditional American foods and I don’t feel entitled because I look white… I am a third generation immigrant! CBU-HIS311
Mai Sheng Yang Morris, MN
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 […]
Annaleis Thibault, Bolton, MA. As a white, middle class american, I feel as though I owe reparations for the crimes committed by my ancestors.
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 […]
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 […]
Hyung Nam Portland, OR Melting pot was for the construction of whiteness
Miriam Summerville Dufer, Gordo, AL.
Sandra Castañeda Anaheim, CA I have spent 42 of my 44 years in this country and it doesn’t make an ounce of difference, I’m still treated differently. My head says I’m American my heart says I’m Colombian, because that’s where I’m accepted.
Sunil Yapa, New York, NY. I’m biracial and grew up in rural Pennsylvania. The question where are you from has always hounded and haunted me. I’m from the US. I’m from Sri Lanka. The only two places in the world where they are certain I don’t belong.
Michelle, Rochester, NY. My liberal white colleagues have long conversations about the problems with racism in American. They have interesting ideas about solutions to the problem, but they rarely listen to the brown people in the room. Is this a white savior problem?
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!
Maria (Victoria) Lopez, Moreno Valley, CA. I am a student at Cal Baptist University and am in the class History of Minorities. My professor had us look into this web site for an assignment but to talk about our own race card. My race topic is, “No, sorry I don’t speak Spanish” This has been […]
Christopher Kang, Arlington, VA. Love the project–only six words is hard! 🙂
Lulu Rice, Tucson, AZ. My sister-in-law and I were having a discussion about the word “Hispanic”. I told her I didn’t like the term because it’s too vague. I’m proud of my Mexican heritage. She said “I think of you as American”. I found I like that. I especially like the idea that I have […]
James Edward White, Indianapolis, IN. You look at me and you see a white man with blue eye. But on my mom’s side my great granddad was born a slave in Tennessee (mom house slave, dad was the master) left at 14 and ended up in north Dakota, Married a Blackfoot Indiana woman. I am […]
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 […]
J Smith Kenya I’ve spent several years living outside the US (Europe, Asia, Africa) and being half Japanese, I am always mistaken for being from the continent of Asia. Even when I tell people repeatedly that I am also half white and that my Japanese side of the family has been in the US for […]
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 & […]
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?
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). […]
George Nalbandian, San Francisco, CA. I look like a typical white boy, but my culture and family traditions are nothing like that of a white male/ or an American. My ethnicity is Armenian, and my skin tone is pale, but there are a lot of darker skinned Armenians too. A lot of us look Middle […]
Chuck Lehneis San Diego, CA Born here in San Diego, I find I fit in best. Yet, I don’t identify totally with the culture, by and large. Most of the surfers are white, most of the tourists are white, most of the people who are out and about on a Saturday night too. I see […]
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.
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 […]
Angelique Moulton Houston, TX I am American and what America looks like.
Cynthia Lawrence, Carmichael, CA. Working together we can learn from each other and build a better community.
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 […]
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.
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.
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).
Maria Lopez, Baltimore, MD. I remember one time I was really sick and was rushed to the ER, while registering the nurse told me “you have very good English,” which I responded as “probably because I was born here.” I may have been 13 or 14. In high school, one of the lunch ladies who […]
Trish, Houston, TX. I’m Black. I’m American. Black is my race. American is my nationality. One has nothing to do with the other. How can all Black people be African American? It’s impossible for a Black person who was born in the UK, to be an African American. Black Americans are not “special” kind of […]
Sabreena M., MA. My parents are from China. I was born here. The fact that I look like a Chinese person shouldn’t override the fact that I’m American. I always get this question (from strangers who just come up to me) whenever I tell them that I was born here.
Carrie Hunsinger, Wilmington, DE. I am a 1/2 first generation American. My Mother is American (Detroit) and my father is Dutch (Holland). He’s been here almost 60 years and he still speaks with a heavy Dutch accent and therefore I speak English with a bit of a Dutch accent. When 9/11 happened I was in […]
John Wong, San Francisco, CA. I’m an American Born Chinese and am in my early 20’s, while riding the train, this was said to me by a Hispanic gentleman. He said it to me in broken English, which took me aback. I questioned his audacity for saying this to me & proceeded to go into […]
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.
Lily Yan, Scottsdale, AZ. Last year, my Australian cousin told me that despite the fact that Sydney has a significant Asian population, she still encounters the ignorance of those who assume she is not truly an Aussie. I could relate, as I still encounter many who ask where I am from and are not satisfied […]
Todd Schoepflin Buffalo, NY Racial inequality, racism, race relations…it’s all so hard for Americans (us, the U.S.) to handle. Some try, some try harder than others, some work so hard against racism and do the vital work of raising awareness and making change. But it feels like an overwhelming challenge sometimes, and I am saddened […]
Jeraine Cuff Minneapolis, MN Door knocking captain for Northside (MPLS) Community Re-investment Coalition
Crissie Acosta Miami, FL Born of Cuban immigrants there is a sense of loss of my heritage, culture and traditions. My parents came to this country when they were children themselves carrying little to nothing but the clothes on their backs and even less of their culture and traditions. They were raised in an era […]
Amber Price, Atlanta, GA. I was raised in Chattanooga, Tennessee. I grew up ashamed of my Blackness. I heard the n-word for the first time in elementary school. I prayed every night for God to make me white. At the age of 17 I was told to go sit with the rest of the Blacks […]
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 […]
Mina, Riverside, CA. CBU HIS 311
Jessica Soriano, Fontana, CA. My race does not define me, and it will not have any impact on the goals that I have set for myself. I am reaching for the stars and will settle for nothing but the best.
Anonymous, USA. The worst thing about people on the street commenting on how good my English is, is that the only language I’m really good at is English, and I can’t speak my own language. Whenever I try, I just fail, and life seems so pointless. It’s so much easier to speak English: the default. […]
Pamela Torres, West Palm Beach, FL. CubanAmerican daughter often teased for being light skin. It hurts.
Lauren Juanita Hines, Alexandria, VA. I am the American melting pot personified: born to a Mexican father and Caucasian (white, mostly Irish) mother, raised by a Lebanese mother and a German-Irish father. I remember weddings as a child where we all danced the Middle Easter dabke. Cousins on the other side of the family won […]
Terry Savage Kailua, HI This was my standard response when “insignificant others” inquired about our then very young adopted son’s origins.
Nancy L Moore Livingston, MT We lived in DC 1964-65 and one day a kid from the inner city offered to mow our lawn. He so wanted to do a good job he was starting to cut it too short. So my dad sent me out to offer him some lemonade to get him to […]
Michael Gauer, Egan, MN. I’m a white man who had a black roommate and believe the color of skin it totally irrelevant. White Americans have learned this, so we must all move forward with confidence that the bad racial past is behind us.
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 […]
Demetrios Pathammavong, Sanger, CA. I am an American, although my grandparents are from Laos. It is often a repeated questions of where I am from. When I answer that I am from America, people then ask the same question. Sometimes I say ”Oh, I am from Laos.” in reality I was born in California. This […]
Ricky Quezada, Sanger, CA. I don’t really embrace beng Mexican. I don’t speak Spanish. English is my only Language, but my father was born in Mexico so I know I am Mexican, but he was raised in America so Mexican traditions aren’t really pushed upon me and my family. We are more American than anything, […]
Duryan Bhagat-Clark, Aberdeen, NJ. My father is an immigrant from Bombay, India. He moved here to go to college and graduate school. He is Muslim. While working at Rutgers University he met my mother; she is Jewish. They were married within a year. As I often joke, I know there will never be peace in […]
Lottie MSF, St. Louis, MO. Born in LA, raised in Compton, became an adult in Bay Area, relocated to MO. Loved by entrepreneur/homemaker grandparents. Raised by entrepreneur, GED, get the job done, courageous, make it happen parents with 50+ years of marriage. I’m a well balanced contributing, career woman, parent, wife, aunt & daughter. My […]
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 […]
AD Hammershaimb Radnor, PA My siblings see it as belonging everywhere; I see it as belonging nowhere. In Denmark, Danes see me as Filipino-American. In the Philippines, people see me as Danish-American. In the U.S. , I’m Danish and Filipino. or just American. Where can I be all three at once? Where is home?
Brian Wackerly, Andover, KS. Black, white, blue, green, or yellow. It’s 2015 folks- why can’t we just all be Americans? The LEFT wants to label everyone as African American- why am I not labeled as Scottish American or Irish American or Czech American? Exactly. The people who demand to be called African American are no […]
Francisco Lemus, Sanger, CA. These six words signify that I am more than just brown. People tend to categorize others based on how they look, and using that to clump them in a certain group with preconceptions about their ways of life. I have had moments where I was not seen as American because of […]
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 […]
Gerald D. Franks, Town Creek, AL. But you wouldn’t know that by looking at me. I’m the typical American mixture of various European ethnicities (aka white), and I have Cherokee lineages as well (documented, not just family lore). While doing some genealogical work I decided to have my genome fully sequenced in case there were […]
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 […]