Scrub brown skin with whitening soap.

Kate Blanco, Berkeley, CA. Filipinos and Filipino-Americans tend to have an obsession with “whiteness”. I was once told as a young kid to use whitening soap because I was so dark skinned. I believed them. I was taught to view my brown skin as ugly and white/lighter skin as beautiful. I tried to scrub off […]


You’re Indian; do you speak Hindu?

Poonam Dreyfus-Pai, Berkeley, CA. It wasn’t easy to choose just one sentence (6 words, no less) to summarize the constant negotiation between frustration and a sort of mirthless humor that I experience when dealing with questions about my race and ethnicity. On the most basic level, “Hindu” is a religious identity — not a race, […]


Women tell hidden mixed heritage story.

Jodi Su Tharan, Berkeley, CA. My family is Jewish, Apache Chiricahua, additional hidden tribes that still remained unnamed after years of research, Welsh, Scots, Irish, English and probably more. We joke that we are ‘the great unwashed’..not nice but in a way reclaiming the history of poor folks from all over becoming the beauty of […]

All Power to the People!

Judy Gumbo Albert Berkeley, CA I learned this slogan directly from Kathleen & Eldridge Cleaver, Bobby Seale & Emory Douglas. Eldridge used to call my late husband Stew Albert his “best white friend”; Eldridge gave me the name Gumbo because Gumbo went with Stew; a name which allowed me to establish my own identity.

Black family history hard to uncover

Chadwick Campbell Berkeley, CA Being black and from Louisiana, searching for my family past my great grandparents is very difficult. Finding people who were, literally, not legal citizens of this country is a very difficult endeavor.

Kids in behavior class all black.

Michelle Baird Berkeley, CA My daughter is in a fairly diverse elementary school. She is African-American, I am white. She commented one day on the way in to school that all the kids in the class she says is kids with behavior problems are black. She wonders why. So do I.

Expectation that I must be billingual

Helen Rodrigues Berkeley, CA I am second generation Mexican American, in a family that now extends 4 generations. I was raised in an English Speaking household in an upper middle class area, I’m a U.C. Berkeley grad, a skilled professional, and the expectation is still that I grew up in a Barrio in a poor, […]

I’m told I’m not black enough

Alexis Berkeley, CA I am of mixed race, African-American and white. Because I do not have dark skin, people love to tell me that I don’t look black, or simply ignore the fact that I am mixed. I am told simply, “You’re not black! You are white”. I am black AND white, I cannot and […]