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I will never really ‘get it’.

Celia Beasley, Seattle, WA. Being an upper-middle class white woman, I know I will never truly understand what it feels like to be a person of color in America. Despite my attempts to be aware of racism in this county through conversations, news stories, interviews, books, this website, etc, I know that I will never […]

How many people in your party?

Tsvia Tabuchi, Rancho Cucamonga, CA. I am married to a Japanese man for 30 years , and have two beautiful children. Every time we go out to a restaurant or theater other people think I belong to a different group.

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Still figuring out my six words.

Rob Moore, Oak Park, IL. I was raised in Southern California, born into a military family. I’ve lived most of my life in a white–or beige–bubble. Recently, because of an important and loving relationship, I’ve been thinking a lot more about race as it affects us today. Reading Claudia Rankine, Patricia Smith, many others who […]

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“We” – Muhammad Ali

Kelly O’Brien, Carmel Valley, CA. Muhammad Ali used to say that this is the shortest poem in the world… He stood at the microphone and turn both hands first to himself, and he’d say “Me”. Then he reverse his gesture toward the audience and say “We”. I’ve always loved this incredibly astute and simple act […]

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Why steal when you’re already looking.

Michael Swanegan, Chino Hilla, CA. Im a 22 year old African American male who lives in California. Whenever I enter a store, gas station, or even a movie theater. I feel an unwanted vibe as if I’m on the radar by all the managers and floor workers. A negative vibe as if I’m being looked […]

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I am the token black girl

Chinna Ford, Vallejo, CA. It’s hard work being the token. You must learn to lighten the mood with an acceptable race joke every so often. When slavery is mentioned in classrooms you must ignore the peering eyes of your classmates. You must, sing, dance and excel at sports because in the words of my white […]

My kids DON’T have “fractured” identities!

Kelly C, Los Angeles, CA. My husband is Japanese and I look “white” though I don’t really know what I “am” because my father was adopted. Our kids are wonderful, beautiful, happy pre-teens. Growing up in a diverse and inclusive place, they have friends from a variety of ethnicities, religions, and social classes. But in […]

No, I’m not Hispanic. I’m Arab.

Ian M., Orange County, CA. My mom is an immigrant from the Middle East, my dad was born in Texas, yet my brother and I look as white as you can get. Every time I’ve filled out college apps for state or private schools, the US census, standardized tests like AP, SAT, and GRE, race […]

We all come from Black ancestry.

Lezlie Graebel, Mount Shasta, CA. Science has showed us that our origins are from Africa. With the exception of those in Europe who have the distinction to carry some Neanderthal genes. The gene for light skin has also been traced to a relatively recent mutation. What divides us,; what unifies us; what protects us is […]

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Veteran Patriot Still White Washed Wetback

Michael Morentin, Los Angeles, CA. Growing up a third generation Mexican-American I find myself walking America as a 30 year old Marine Corps veteran and recent college graduate whom is too brown for those around me who are white, and not brown enough for those around me of hispanic heritage. Being third generation Mexican-American the […]

New experiences: better late than never.

Bryce Beckwith Ann Arbor, MI I attended a catholic, all-girls high school in Sacramento, California. Race and diversity were things I had only experienced through informative assemblies. However; the University of Michigan has made those assemblies a daily experience.

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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 […]

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Chubby, old, white girls CAN dance!

Diane Auten, Arroyo Grande, CA. I am a 43 year old, white, chubby mom who also happens to be a Hip Hop and Zumba instructor. I often get (new) people who come up to me after my class and say, “WOW! I was so surprised at what a great class that was.” Which basically means […]

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Who are you trying to IMPRESS?

Nathan Krasniak, Moreno Valley, CA. As a young child, my parents instilled a solid work ethic and introduced me to setting goals. 18 years later I am so very thankful! Initially I wasn’t very receptive. I didn’t understand why my friends didn’t have chores and I had quite a bit of them. My parents would […]

Half black, nobody knows or cares

Peter Nanula, Newport Coast, CA. I look white and was raised in mostly white areas, so no one knows I am half-black. Because they don’t know, they don’t make racial judgments. This feels hopeful – as we inter-marry (like my parents did) and integrate our society, bias and discrimination go away over time. We all […]

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I feel like I’m the minority

Lola Rain, Roseville, CA. Growing up a white kid in a Hispanic neighbor changes ones perspective on what it means to be priviledged and entitled, neither of which I was as an only child but somehow grew into as an adult — most likely because I’m always trying to prove myself. But as I age, […]

Send the light skinned cousin in.

Gym Rati, Pasadena, CA. We were on a road trip and in Colorado a restaurant displayed a sign that Mexicans were not allowed. We sent in our light skinned cousin for takeout. The hamburger felt like sand in my mouth. I was 10 years old.

I’ve been the ONLY Black kid..

Kelly B. Ferrell Sterling, VA As the child of nomadic parents, we lived where we could and/or where my parents found work. At one point in the mid “70s, we lived in up-state NY, outside of Ithaca. We were the only black family in the area (in the county the way I remember it) and […]

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Skin is brown, but I’m successful

Jessica Hernandez, San Juan Capistrano, CA. My little sisters were born very light (white) skinned, while I was born brown. My father likes to think that because they are light, they will be more successful, in terms of reproduction and survival. Because they are light he says they will get all they guys. Well, only […]

Red hair gets the most stares.

Stefanie Walker, Sacramento, CA. Sometimes I just want to dye my hair and see what it would be like to blend into the crowd-to not be defined by my red hair color anymore-to not be a “red head”. Red heads are the biggest minority of all in my opinion, how many do you actually know? […]

Society is crashing, be white passing.

Jake Carrasco O’Connell, San Francisco, CA. I chose my six words to be: society is crashing, be white passing. I chose these six words because my whole life I’ve seen that if you can pass for white that it is just as good as being white. I attended a predominately white private high school and […]

Sir, it’s just a random search.

Naim A., San Francisco, CA. These are the words I hear every time I go to the airport. Being Arab-American, I always face discrimination whether it’s from peers or random people on the street or social media but never let it get to me. The airport is the one place that always seems to get […]

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Ok, seriously, what race are you?

Jordan Beuch, Riverside, CA. A common question that I have been used to getting is, “Ok but really, What race are you?” It has always kind of irked me because often it times it seems as if people are trying to put me away into a category based of those simple words. BUT, none of […]

Oh sorry I am new here!

Anonymous, Sacramento, CA. I remember the time when we just moved here in the United States, we were called “beggars” by an old lady because of the way we dress. Coming from a country where lifestyle was just simple and plain affected our adjustment, and made it hard for us to adopt, especially the place […]

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A Social Construct, Race Matters Everywhere

Mohammad Salem Shirzad, Sacramento, CA. As an afghan immigrant, I have witnessed the roots of race in different geographical and social contexts, from Afghanistan to the United States. It is sad to say that race do matter in today’s societies all over the world. But this is the truth in today’s world. Cosumnes River College

I didn’t know english, but learned.

Phillip T., Elk Grove, CA. Prior to going to school I didn’t know a lick of English. My parents spoke to me either in Cantonese or Vietnamese, but when I enter kindergarten I learned English for the first time. I don’t remember much of kindergarten, I don’t even remember her name. I was in E.S.L […]

Im just white on the outside.

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 […]

Young Hispanic male, possible gang member

Jonathan Pineda, San Francisco, CA. I’ve been living in the Mission District all of my life, due to the gentrification going on and many natives being pushed out and tech workers moving in, police presence has increased dramatically. Also due to the gang injunction which has done nothing except give police officers an excuse to […]

Not American, not Mexican; something else.

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 […]

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I am not white, or caucasian!

Heather Sanchez, Upper Lake, CA. As the world gets more politically correct, I have turned to study my own roots, as a ‘white’ person. What I have found has debunked many of the world’s stereotypes for white or caucasian people. This makes me proud. Is that wrong? I find great pride in the troubles and […]

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Deny reality; keep faith in humanity

Mekdelawit, San Francsico, CA. I have faith that people mean well; no one wants to hurt another human being for no reason. That’s a liberal belief. However, reality fails me at times and I lose hope. The reality is, many are willing to step on others to get to the top, but I believe it’s […]

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Don’t assume- alot you don’t know

Oliver Parr, Tuscaloosa, AL. Being white in the state of Alabama automatically means that most people assume the worst. I was raised in the State of California where race truly is not even a topic of discussion. I grew up not looking at the color of a persons skin but how tough it is. I […]

You are all green to me

Joseph Veale, Rio Linda, CA. My race card is just a simple idea I was taught while on base. My mother told me that everyone was green. That we were all the same soldier on the inside green uniform outside. There are no different races , only different people.

Oh, your English is quite good.

Sandy Jiang, San Francisco, CA. When I was in a different state for a course, we were building a foot trail for a national park and I was talking to the park guide. We were talking for a bit and then he told me “Your English is very good. You have a nice tongue.” It […]

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Hispanic and I only speak English

Marlo Torres, Riverside, CA. I am Puerto Rican and I have always grown up with the question of; You’re Hispanic, why don’t you speak Spanish? At first it was always something that I just laughed off and my usual response was I don’t know or my parents never taught me. As I grew older and […]

Focus on me, not my appearance

Shelby, Sunnyvale, CA. Too many people in this world focus on how we look when we should be focused on our character and our personality. We are too fascinated with our physical appearance when we should be fascinated with our words, our actions and our intelligence. Those are the things that should truly define who […]

Blacks can own nice things too!

Dede C., San Francisco, CA. My six words is relevant to a personal story of mine and other minorities. The stereotype is that Blacks are poor and lack education so commit illegal crimes to obtain the luxuries we want. Because of this stereotype, people are oblivious to the fact that we are capable of working […]

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I didn’t know you are black

Gianni Johnson, Moreno Valley, CA. A lot of times when the topic of race or ethnicity comes up people are not sure where exactly to place me. People who I’ve just meet, and even people whom I have known for a while will say, “I didn’t know you are black” or they might say “I […]

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I thought you were a “hoodrat”

Cierra Garza, Parlier, CA. When I first moved to my new high school 15 minutes away from my hometown, I had no friends. I am now a senior in high school. I’ve met new people and made friends but, one thing that always comes up when someone is comfortable with me is the phrase, “I […]

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You must be Cuban or something.

Jesse Hernandez-Oliver, Modesto, CA. I’m Mexican, African and Native American (Apache and Cherokee soecifically) with ringlet curled hair that resembles finger waves of the 1920s when brushed. Growing up I remember everyone always asking to touch my hair. I can speak some Spanish too so that also through people off,which I always found to be […]

Always desired culture. I’m just white.

Cassandra Coats, El Cajon, CA. I grew up in a very multi-cultural school where being white was the minority. I was never teased for it, but I felt like I was missing out. I spent most of my childhood wishing I could be Asian, or Native American, or speak Spanish, etc. Sure, I have red […]

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When Skin Color Fades Away

Leonard Rios, Imperial Beach, CA. I am an American Indian on tribal roles and racism has followed my people childhood to present. I am a traditionalist and live an old school life style founded on respect and the spirit of taking only what we need and giving when all possible. I moved to Imperial Beach […]

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I’m Hmong, and I am proud.

Kabao Lee, Sacramento, CA. I am Hmong and I am proud. I think it pretty much explains itself, but there are many people I know growing up who do not embrace their culture, needless to say I am proud of being Hmong. Even though many people do not know about the Hmong people, I am […]

What’s it like being a “wetback”

Mary Rodriguez, Carmichael, CA. True question asked of me by my very first crush. I remember this time vividly. I was in science class and across from me was the “love of my life”..it was 6th grade. I was really excited to work with him, and when he looked at his friend then back at […]

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I ate pasta, family ate rice.

Melanie Vanderlipe Ramil, Sacramento, CA. Growing up, I wanted to be as “non-Filipino” as possible and felt great achievement whenever a friend said to me, “You seem so white!” During my middle school years, I claimed to not like rice (the staple for every night’s family dinner). My mom, after rushing home from work to […]

There is no color, just people

Jean, Cathedral City, CA. I am a teacher and they try to tell us that we all have bias. In 11 years I have only kicked 3 kids out of class and none have been African American. They told me if I took “this test” I would be surprised, guess what, no bias. Screw them […]

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You’re pretty…for a dark-skinned girl!

Vernae Williams, Sacramento, CA. I grew up in a family full of light skinned people. I always felt like an outsider because within the Black community light skin is seen as the “right skin”, and dark skin is viewed as being ugly. Growing up I never truly felt comfortable in my own skin due to […]

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I am me, not my race

Dawn Taylor, Alta Loma, CA. I don’t want to be defined by the color of my skin and I don’t define others by the color of theirs. We are better defined by our character, how we behave when we think no one is watching. When in doubt, be loving and kind. Give people the benefit […]

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Khoa Le, Elk Grove, CA. Ever since I started school as a kid, whether it’s a math class, history, or English, a teacher will always have technical difficulties with their computer. They then ask the class, does anyone know how to fix this. *An asian kid raises his hand and helps the teacher.*As i get […]

To see Dale hurt, still hurts.

Erin Thomas, Riverside, CA. In 1956, when I was in 4th grade (9-10 years old), we had a less-than-kind teacher, but you were taught to respect your teacher, no matter what. We were sitting in a circle on the floor having some kind of sharing session and the teacher had a boy, Dale, stand up […]

White men run errands too

Michael Kelley Los Angeles, CA I am a White man and when I am out running errands, some Black or Hispanic person will invariably ask if I am the Police. It’s funny that they still think it even though I grew my hair out because I got tired of being asked this question.

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You are important. Your voice matters!

Kathy Mercado Temecula, CA I do not know what it is like to be pulled over by the police because of the color of my skin. I do not know what it is like to be called degrading names because of my ethnic background. I do not know what it is like to be profiled […]

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Held against your will?

Judy Vasquez, Murrieta, CA. I am a caucasion female, brown hair with brown eyes and my husband is proudly Hispanic/Mexican. We were pulled over at a checkpoint one evening on or way home from a family event and when the officer looked in the car, he asked me, “Ma’am, are you being held against your […]

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I’m not adopted! I’m mixed-race.

Julie Taeko, San Francisco, CA. Writing a book called “Good Morning, Mixed-Race America!” to highlight the stories of 12 mixed-race individuals who are part-Asian, millenials and loving life! Checking All the Boxes & Embracing Our Own Unique Multi-Cultural Identity.

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Samoan/Jewish – aka The Last Unicorn

S. Dreyfuss, Novato, CA. Sometimes I call myself The Last Unicorn, after the silly 1980’s movie about a unicorn, the only one of her kind, that goes searching for evidence of others. Growing up with the unusual combination of Samoan/Ashkenazi Jewish, I’ve always wondered if there was anyone else out there like me. Any single […]

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I’m the future, can’t you see?

Lauren Lola Newark, CA Why are people always so curious about what my racial makeup is? They treat it like it’s a game- like they’re going to win a prize if they get it right. The overly asked question “What are you?” often is directed at me by individuals who are just meeting me the […]

I can’t find Home… Found it!

Mari Pollack Los Angeles, CA Joy was adopted at the age of 11 from an abusive home in Korea into a loving family in California. Now a rebellious alcoholic in her 20s, she is homesick for a home that doesn’t want her and unable to feel truly a part of her adoptive family. She returns […]

I became an activist and prisoner

Dan Kelly San Francisco, CA I was in a Brooklyn HS in the early 60s and the images coming from the south inspired me to question the social conventions that supported segregation, From that it was a short jump to questioning forteign policies that justified invading 3rd world countries. College seemed irrelevant and I left […]

Relief, family pride, and then hope

Joy Los Angeles, CA Looking into my family history, at first I found relief at finding no record of slave ownership, even among ancestors in the South. Was it just because they could not afford to buy slaves? But then I found a transcript of a sermon my great-great grandmother’s brother gave at a church […]

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Not just for being a black girl.

Anisha (Blair) Taylor, Riverside, CA. “Your beautiful. For a black girl.” . Those words spilled out the mouth of a young black male, in my 12th grade math class. Only then was reminded. That being a Dark skin Black Women, We are not considered to be as beautiful as other women. I was in second […]

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“Why don’t you like me?”

Mandy P, Sacramento, CA. When I was 7 years old we moved to Sacramento from Oregon. The culture and diversity is very in California than in Oregon. Moving to California exposed me to many other races and cultures. I saw many other races in my environment. Although in my neighborhood, where I lived and attended […]

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You’re Native American? Well, how much?

Kaitlin Reed, Poughkeepsie, NY. I am a Yurok Indian. We are the salmon people and my ancestors have lived by the Klamath River in northern California since time began. But after centuries of continual sexual conquest against Native American women, I am not the color of Pocahontas. That’s right, I’m white-skinned and Indian. This hasn’t […]