Can I color Barbie’s skin brown?

Heather Dalby, Baltimore, MD. My Little was 9 years old when she asked me this question while we colored with crayons. She is a brilliant character with an abundance of self confidence, so her question surprised me. Her family is from everywhere; the US, Great Britain, and the Caribbean to name a few. Her skin […]

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Being Brown Makes Me Look “Hood”

Victor Vega, Los Angeles, CA. What troubles is on his mind? What’s he hiding from the camera? What’s in his jacket? That’s what I think when I see a picture of mine taken from several years back. If a white person was wearing street attire, one might think he’s cool, trendy, or might not even […]

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“Generic Brown” is my passport everywhere.

Gil L. Pettigrew, MS, The Federated States of Micronesia. I have a very strong, very proud cultural heritage; I’m a North American Mestizo, 50% Native American (Creek and Cherokee; my tribal enrollment/citizenship is with the Echota Band of the Eastern Cherokee Nation) & 50% a mashup of Scots-Latin-AfricanAmerican-Welsh-french. I self ID as Native American, because […]

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Mixed heritage. Feeling strange growing up

Katie Moore New Echota, GA I used to hate the way I looked growing up. My mom & brother had fair skin & freckles & I had darker skin & hair. I like the way I look now. I’m proud of my heritage. I am of cherokee, creek, German,& African decent. I stand taller than […]

The whitest brown girl I know.

Catherine Marden El Cerrito, CA My mother is from El Salvador. My father is from Kentucky. I grew up in rural Oregon. I didn’t know I was half-hispanic until I realized checking the hispanic box on college applications might help me get accepted. To this day I struggle with my Salvadoran ancestry. I am white. […]

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You’re not asian,You’re White.

Kristine Ratanaphruks Durham, NC I look ethnically ambiguous and, at times, I pass for white. I grew up watching white men call my father “boy” — I’ve heard countless racist remarks made by people who don’t realize my heritage — I’ve heard the question ” What are you? ” too many times to count and […]

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I Am Shattered Pieces Scattered Black

Lauren Anderson Kansas City, MO I’m not sure what I would consider myself. The only thing that I know is that I am brown-skinned, but light-skinned. Many believe I am mixed with another race or other race(s), but my parents are both Black. I’m not really sure what it means to be Black or where […]

“Am I white?” –My Latina daughter

Anne Hickling Phoenix, AZ I don’t know how to answer this when she asks. The answer is both “Yes” and “No.” Her Cuban grandparents self-identify as white, but here in the SW borderlands, she likely is seen by many as one of those “brown” people, you know, the ones who crossed the border legally or […]

Middle-school fight, brown punished, not white

Tonia Torrence Salt Lake City, UT My six words are based on experience as a mediator for the juvenile Victim/Offender mediation program for the Salt Lake Courts. Schoolgirl fight, brown punished, not white or Middle-school fight, brown punished, not white Two middle-school girls were in the mediation with their mothers. The blond white girl had […]

Mom, will I turn brown now?

Asheley Woodruff Burtonsville, MD My family recently moved from Idaho to Maryland. For the first time, my children were immersed in a racially diverse population. I realized, quickly, that my children did not understand that the United States is not a white country with a few Black, Hispanic, Asian people living in it. Furthermore, we […]

A missplaced comma, in fluid sentences.

Anil Oommen Eugene, OR University of Oregon I am brown, a Malayalee, a person of Indian descent in a primarily white setting. This is often awkward. It is not unusual for me to feel like a misplaced comma, in the fluid sentences of white experience. Only when I limit what I say and refrain from […]

We are all shades of brown.

Paul Ruscher Eugene, OR Explore Identity It is time to ignore appearance…it facilitates judging others. I am a father of 11 including 5 adopted kids and I love them all and wish others did. but my biological kids (Caucasian) have always been more accepted than my darker complected ones (adopted from India and some from […]

I am not like the rest

Rabia Syed Ann Arbor, MI Understanding Race Project- University of Michigan These six words represent how I feel about myself when people make assumptions as to the kind of person that I am. Being brown and Muslim makes me easy to lump with a large number of people, whom I do not necessarily see myself […]

White mother brown daughter love fear

Dina Stonberg Philadelphia, PA I have had the privilege to not have to think about race most of my life. Fell in love with a wonderful, kind, caring African American man – formed our family through adoption and now have the privilege of raising a beautiful, smart African American daughter. She is a joy every […]