John Johnson Portland, OR They will never let you forget you are black. I doesn’t matter where you go or what you do. First and foremost you will always be black. If you are at the beach you are a black man at the beach. If you are in an antique store you are a [...]
Edward O’Neill Queens, NY
Robert Sowards Austin, TX I’m sure it’s simply a cultural thing. Even so, I find the baggy pants that show part of a young black male’s but crack, and “shorts” that go down to the ankles on the one hand but sag below the crack, to be a bit disconcerting, and even intimidating depending on [...]
Ken Cincinnati, OH “anti-racists” are not pushing diversity on to Black countries “anti-racists” are not pushing diversity on to Asian countries “anti-racists” are not pushing diversity on to Arab countries
Hunter Holland Smithtown, NY For four years, the purpose of my existence was to earn an acceptance letter to Princeton University. As a result of circumstances that I cannot control, I type this, still frustrated, from my dorm room at the University of Southern California.
Jackie Tieu Beaverton, OR As an Asian American I am left out of conversations about race all the time. Conversations about race are centralized on blacks and whites. Asian issues are rarely talked about and not acknowledged enough. I am not white and I am not black. I am Asian.
Sonia Kang Northridge, CA Are you their mom? As a biracial mom (Black/Latina) married to a Korean man with children who look more Asian than anything else, we are often looked at with curiosity. They look at them then at me. Is she the nanny? Who can she be? Whether at their Korean language immersion [...]
Leyitha P. Achoute Philadelphia, PA I don’t like to be identify as a African American, it get me mad. I’m “black” skinned, but I wasn’t born in America nor Africa. I was born in Haiti, an island in the Caribbean. Every time I’m filling a form, I just check the box that’s says other race.
Julie A. Perkins NV I’m 22 years old, half African America, half Caucasian. Because I’m black, I have been racially profiled and discriminated against because of my gender and skin color. But I’ve also had the terrible taste prejudice from many black people due to my mother being white and me not being full black. [...]
Tiffanie Luckett Greenbelt, MD I was adopted at nine months of age. My parents are black. My biological parents were Caucasian and black. My parents expected the world to see me as black (or “other than white”), and raised me accordingly. I was raised to see myself as black, and I find it unsettling/strange/uncomfortable when [...]
BURTON DAVIS PRICE Greenwood, MS Becoming a black professional gives one a large chip on their shoulder. This chip can be so heavy at times that it makes your life miserable. You always question other peoples actions towards you, which can make you paranoid.
Danya Granado Aurora, CO If you must place me in a racial category, then call me black. And no, I’m not offended when you say it. My family is from Trinidad and Tobago. I was born in England. I have a Hispanic last name. I get a lot of questions. Culturally, I feel as though [...]
Maureen Shaw Durham, NC Thank you for doing this. This is a photo of my mother’s family, this is the reason why I wrote it’s okay to be black. I look at it an feel so proud of this photo. We let ourselves believe we are a people are people with shattered history. I’ve discovered [...]
Melanie USA When I first had my children someone told my husband that our children will be considered black in this country. When I fill out forms for them there is a check box for black and white but not both. I mark both. I will not have them pick one over the other. Relatives [...]
Catherine Durham, NC The question we get ask almost everyday, what what ethic do you belong to? why do we get ask these question? Do race still mater? Just think about it wouldn’t it be nice if race didn’t matter? Today in society we are being categorize in groups that by the color of our [...]
Morgan Cooper, Stockton, CA. In 2007, when my ex husband and I were expecting our baby girl, we jokingly called her “Blackanese”, a term I still use endearingly. Most simply put, I am half Black and half White and my ex husband is half Japanese and half White. Never in our wildest dreams did we [...]
Ana W. Los Angeles, CA Black is beautiful, and being an educated black woman just adds embellishments to the race.
Douglas Rice Fruita, CO I struggled for four decades to find some sort of racial identity…I’m bi-racial by my DNA, but having been raised in white culture where white people called me black I’ve never identified as white, and having been raised in white culture I didn’t “experience” black culture so I don’t Identify as [...]
Caitlin Grames Sterling Heights, MI Race, gender, heritage, and all other innate traits we are born with are only secondary to our life experiences. Our stories make us who we are as individuals. And you can’t capture a whole history with just “black”, or just “white”.
Yuka Nakamura Des Moines, IA Drake University
Paco Romane, San Francisco, CA. I grew up in an all white racist small town, with a hispanic nickname (paco), a white mom, and a black step-dad who’s last name was White. It taught me a lot including I believe there are two different kinds of white people: those become “black” around black people and [...]
Bill Doyle Valparaiso, IN Wish I could be there with my Eugene Cousins.
Haylie Roggenbuck Spokane, WA
Peter Kim Los Angeles, CA Heard the phrase “majority minority” on the radio the other day. I know exactly what they meant and I have heard it many times before, but it irked me. Used to express when an ethnic minority is greater than 50% or outnumber the “majority.” The implications are that the majority [...]
Hassan Hodges Ann Arbor, MI
Jeannie Graves Seattle, WA This was my first realization that I held prejudices. Once I knew that, I could work on it. I hope I’m (a lot) better now.
Hao Nguyen Durham, NC I wanted to say… Black Vietnamese. Speak english, spanish, vietnamese. Eat suong kho, pho, and corn dogs. Words that describe my mixed race/heritage children. Having to choose only 6 words, I had to put them in order of words that most describe them. Having to choose what comes first — black [...]
Lu Ann Joplin The Villages, FL I was in junior high, she was in high school. I’m white, she’s black. She asked if she could sit with me. I said sure. It didn’t occur to me it could be a problem. I really got the treatment everyday when she got off the bus. The bus [...]
Joe Heafner Submitted via Twitter: @heafnerj
ROBERT EDWARD NOEL Fairfield, CA AGE 4 DARK BALTIMORE EVENING AS MY MOTHER AND I WERE STARTING TO GET INTO OUR CARE A BLACK CHILD MY AGE WALKING BY WITH HIS FATHER APPROACHED ME, AND REACHED OUT HIS TOY FOR A FEW MINUTES SHARING IT WITH ME AND THEN WE PARTED. 68 YEARS LATER THAT [...]
Anne Lincoln, MA I was asked by Admissions if I would agree to having a black roommate. I said yes, but when she learned of the request (I never knew how), she was angry–at the school, and confusing to me, at me. From that moment on, there was only anger. I was naive and woefully [...]
Pamela Marshall Milwaukee, WI Life long experiences in dealing with racial ignorance is taking its toll. Being light enough that whites assume you are one of them has allowed me to hear racist comments that would have not been spoken, had they known they were in the presence of a black woman. Then my struggle [...]
Dennis Jack Higgs Saint Peters, MO I was raised in West Texas in the 50’s and 60’s. Although racism was rampant around us, we were not raised to be racist. I am now in my mid sixties and still to this day, one incident, when I was about six or seven years old, that lasted [...]
Mat Johnson Submitted via Twitter: @mat_johnson
Emma S. Sunderland Bountiful, UT
Spencer Wiggins Nashville, TN Fifty years after the March on Washington and 5 years after electing the first black President of the United States we are not living in a post-racial society.
Joan Harris Springfield, PA
Carolyn Kay Conover Harrodsburg, KY It was 1964 and Mary and I had been friends since starting 1st grade together. We’d buy milkshakes at lunch. I’d buy chocolate and she’d buy vanilla. I really liked Mary. This year, Mary and I were going to go to 4-H camp together. We were so excited. We signed [...]
Valerie Fanarjian Great Barrington, MA
Toya James Albuquerque, NM I am first generation biracial Black/White, aka multiracial like everyone else if you go back far enough. Also: “Is your father in the military?” inferring why else could you be in Albuquerque.
Phenix Nunlee Dover, DE Grew up in the suburbs as an African American Male. People want me to act in a way they expect a person of color to act. While not realizing I am who I am and I am a person of color. They do not realize personality is not bound to race.
Twanna Robinson Thomasville, NC In Sunday school one morning, a new child asked me why my skin was so dark. I told her it was because I am a black person. She looked at me for a minute and said nothing else to me for the rest of the hour. When her mother, picked her [...]
Vanessa Uzoh Dallas, TX My freshman year of college was the first time I actually had to think about how identified myself within my own racial community. I didn’t know how to handle this and other questions that people asked me, but I knew that I definitely wasn’t going to let the opinion of others [...]
Kim Pribanic Bozeman, MT He could be pink with purple polka dots and I wouldn’t care. Is he a good man? Does he treat me with respect? Does he treat himself, his friends, and his parents with respect? Those are the things that count.
Kathie D Dones-Carson Flint, MI
David San Francisco, CA Policing blackness is when other African Americans determine what views are acceptable and then deintergrate or cast out fellow African Americans who do not share the same view.
Bill Geraci Blue Island, IL Six? Who needs six? I can do it in five. Ask if you’re interested. (FYI: Mom and I were white and this was (fortunately) a long time ago.)
Kevin Blackburn Las Vegas, NV I remember the first time I ever saw any difference in skin color was in 3rd grade. I had invited my school friends, who were mostly black, to my birthday party. My stepdad found out and told me they couldn’t come in our yard. I told them I wasn’t having [...]
Olga Kazakova Oakland, CA I was robbed at a gun point by two black men a couple of years ago. Now when I see black men walking towards me and no people around I cross the street. Does it make me a racist? I live in a very beautiful, diverse but high crime city.
Regina Wurst San Francisco, CA I am on a steep learning curve, but glad for the impetus of family that makes me stretch.
Sozit Mohamed Sunnyvale, CA Being Ethiopian with Arab heritage in my family, most do not believe I’m black/African. Also, being black and muslim, seems to be the worst thing you can be in America right now.
Glenn Schwitter Simsbury, CT I live in CT, am socially more liberal and financially more conservative, and I do not know any white people who are overtly racist. That would be zero, nada, none. I have also rarely/never seen a problem solved by others. All progress is made by you. The world may not be [...]
Peter Gwynn Washington, DC Police and everybody else, despite any amount of training and good intentions, are still just people and will be influenced by patterns around them. I live in northeast Washington, DC. I don’t know how likely it is that I or a member of my family will be beaten, robbed, killed or [...]
Patricia Jones Charleston, SC My husband and I are the parents of an 18-year-old son who just graduated from high school. As we raised him to this point, we were always concerned about his emotional, mental, and physical well-being. Our goal was to get him through high school and his teenage years without ever seeing [...]
Jon Erik Larson Oradell, NJ
Jan Ramer Indianapolis, IN I lived in Rwanda for 2.5 years, and got a small taste of what it is like to be in the racial minority. The larger lesson for me was that we humans can define “other” in many ways, not simply the color of our skin, and even more importantly, we CAN [...]
Karen Duke Hyattsville, MD Light skinned black people experience the racism from within and outside our culture.
Jeff Myers Philadelphia, PA I’m 35 and growing up in Philadelphia we always lived in mixed neighborhoods. I can remember being the victim of a crime 4 times in the last 5 years and every time it was a young black man/boy who was the aggressor. I grew up with the inclination to cross the [...]
Michael Naples, FL This is a fascinating and worthwhile project. Keep it up!
Jessica Laursen San Diego, CA to New Orleans, LA When moving from San Diego to New Orleans as a teenager I realized the jobs held predominantly by Mexican-Americans in Southern California were performed by African-Americans in the south. Jobs such as janitor, yard maintenance, cook. I began to realize how incredibly complex social “status” is. [...]
W. Drezek San Antonio, TX
Jason Adams Wichita, KS I have fought to educated myself so I could raise my family into the middle class but at every job I applied for I did not get the job. My name helps me get into the door but as soon as I walk in the door their eyes get big and [...]
Jenna Overton Langhome, PA I’m a half-black college student. My friends and I were having a discussion about race one day and a few of the white males in the group (my boyfriend among them) reasoned that they probably couldn’t think about race in the same way minorities do, because to be white is to [...]
Brent Hixson Des Moines, IA Why is our culture so tied up in image? For a young Black or Latino to walk into a store with hood down and face fully exposed is perceived as weak. Actions must always portray power, in charge and make others around them uncomfortable and then ask the question why [...]
USA Growing up biracial you feel the pain of a world still hung up on race and the hope of world that won’t be.
Brandi Artez Boston, MA I’ve had this debate a lot over the years, where usually white people, will tell me that I’m wrong to consider myself bi-racial, because I’m Black and Latina. It’s the craziest thing. Someone actually said to me that since White is the dominant race in the US, unless I’m half white, [...]
Sara Hofmann St. Petersburg, FL I used to work with kids in the foster care system, which required a lot of effort and hours. When new acquaintances asked me what I did for a living, I told them, and after a few more questions I would occasionally get this question or something like it. (I’m [...]
Daryia Dinkins Philadelphia, PA
Omari N.F. Santa Barbara, CA Race is something we made up and nothing good has come of it (valiant struggles to overcome its many ills notwithstanding). 20 years ago I’d have been called Negro, 40 years ago ‘Colored’ and today Black. Truth is I am none of the above. There’s only one race, human. My [...]
Demarcus Robinson Park Forest, IL I’ve been thinking about how, as an African-American, I and other minorities actively think about out race as opposed to our Caucasian counterparts. It’s not that I’m thinking “I”m black, I’m black, I’m black” every second of the day, but I know that certain situations force the thought upon me, [...]
Laura Brengel Clifton Park, NY This is something a “friend” said to me as we dropped the kids off at her house so we could go out to dinner.
Francesca Sam-Sin Katy, TX “No offense BUT, what are you?” That’s usually how the conversation about my race begins. When I arrived in the U.S. in the 80’s I was really surprised by the emphasis on race. The first time someone asked what “race” I was, it took me a minute to understand exactly what [...]
Karen Hill Washington, DC Those words were spoken by the first boy I ever had a crush on. I was 12 and had asked my best friend to find out if he liked me. She called him and while I listened in on the other line asked what he thought. He hesitated and then with [...]
Marianne Scott Washington, DC At least strangers no longer blurt out “no, you aren’t black,” as they did for years. My skin is lighter than most whites and quite freckled. My curls are “good” – large ringlets. Instead, people reveal their own stereotypes when they tell me I don’t talk black. As if there was [...]
B. Smith-Payne Carlsbad, NM As a black American, I feel that I must often act as a chameleon, in order to move in and through diverse social, economic, and political situations. Consequently, my “blackness” takes on various personas and can change in the blink of an eye. Thus, my question.
Linda Starry Houston, TX I have been a teacher since 1974. My first year teaching was the first year of forced busing in Houston. My first class was mostly Black and Mexican. There were two white kids, and one Creole child whose parents said he was French. The children thought I was Mexican, because I [...]
Janice Fairfax, VA I used to work in retail where we received commission, requiring customers to identify us. Customers always felt uncomfortable referring to me as “black.” I started to notice this tendency in other areas of my life. The hesitation suggests a sub-conscious/conscious negative mental connotation with the word. I like my blackness, do [...]
Karen Becker Brookeville, MD
Joel Dipert Bakersfield, CA
Dr. Brian K. Clardy Murray, KY
Linda Skillett Daniels, WV I grew up with a blue collar dad and stay at home mom. I started to date in the late 70s and my mom told me one day not to bring home a black….or a Jew. My dad was a racist but not my mom. I guess she learned, even as [...]
Kimberly Detroit, MI I was just listening to Talk of the Nation with Celeste Headlee discussing Navigating The Lines Between Ethnicity And Identity and I could relate to notion of being biracial and adopted into a white family and having to explore my identity through education and exposure to other black people. I’ve learned that [...]
Tracie Cabler Hampton, VA As a young, black female majoring in architecture, I’m continually confronted with stares and comments from people not used to seeing someone like me in the field. This is especially so at job interviews where they are usually expecting a young white female rather than myself. So while their mouths may [...]
Emily MI Even though your ancestors were called that doesn’t mean you can call others that.
Diana Veiga Washington, DC This weekend I was at an event with a roomful of black women. There was this one lady who stood out because she looked “white”, but then she opened her mouth and she sounded “black.”. And then her mother stood up and she was black. I looked at my mom and [...]
Eddy Bowen Madison, WI I chose these words because It’s my cultural anthropology. most people when they “see” me they just see a normal black guy but little do they know I’m Puerto Rican and Native American. I don’t think its right to judge me based off of how I look on the outside that’s [...]
Sandy Balazic Tempe, AZ The year was 1960 and I was 4 years old. My parents had a housekeeper/babysitter to help while they both worked. One day my father noticed that she would sneak me off behind the basement door on the landing where she kept her personal belongings. When he asked me about this, [...]
Victor Bradley Nashville, TN This is both a reference to the broader stereotyping which has pervaded the Black experience in America from the slave trade to today, and the specific stereotyping in the criminal justice system.
Anne Guillory Thom Vancouver, WA Don’t feel comfortable in ethnically oriented gatherings, except in Louisiana.
Giselle Henry Torrance, CA The first person who taught me that looking more like my African ancestors than my non-African ancestors made me ugly was my mother. She didn’t say it directly, but she said by telling me to pinch my nose so it wouldn’t be so wide. She said it by saying how “pretty” [...]
Maya Segirah Los Angeles, CA I have heard this all my life, exclusively from white people (ok, men) , who, for some arrogant reason, think they have the right to tell who I am or what I should be, to the exclusion of my own experience. When I question their assumptions in any way I [...]
Brian Murray Seattle, WA Growing up it was always hard to find my own identity because I came from a bi-racial background. I am half Black and half Japanese and always had problems being accepted by either racial group because of my uniqueness. Although coming from a low-income housing development called the Rainier Vista Projects [...]
Robert Dokes Beverly, MA Maybe it’s the way I present myself, but sometimes people forget that I’m Black. It’s not they are colorblind it’s just they’ve got so comfortable with me being around that people feel they can say anything around me and believe it’s okay
Submitted via Twitter: @marianleedavis …often spoken as though it were a compliment by non-Black acquaintances.
Greg Filice St. Paul, MN I work in a hospital teaching hospital. In my 40 years working in healthcare, I have watched as the population of US physicians has changed from mostly white males to a more multi-ethnic mixture with increasing percentages of women. Patients and families have had interesting, sometimes disturbing, and varied reactions [...]
Isaias Ortiz Davenport, FL Este hombre es un negro blanco! This man is a white black. The first time I heard that phrase was circa 1980, a family member said while referring to one of his friends, while they were singing and playing their guitars together. I was 20 years old by then, growing up [...]