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 […]
Sarah Naomi Burnett, Norristown, PA. Being a ‘white’ girl raised on the border of Mexico the ‘race-card’ issue was raised daily. I always felt that if I was a color, and they were a nationality, those two identifiers didn’t quantify either of us equally. I had a culture at home that was Irish/Italian but where […]
Amanda Nelski, Los Angeles, CA. People like to put other people in boxes. “Where are you really from?” they ask. I used to answer Detroit. When they asked where my parents are from, Detroit was not suitable either. “You don’t look like you’re from Detroit.” After some banter I would eventually confess my lineage is […]
Grsteena Khoshaba, Warren, MI. I am a Middle Eastern girl and I just have one question. Where am I? Why is it whenever I have to fill out an official document that asks for my race, Middle Eastern is not an option? We are forced to bubble “White” when we’re not really white.
Lee, Saipan, MP. Oceania is the proper geographical name of a defined region, as are North America, Europe, Asia, etc. People are Native American, European, Asian… I am, among other things, Oceanic or Oceanian; a person descended from ancestors from Oceania. Specifically, Micronesia. The term “pacific islander” as a racial category is an oddity that […]
NanJo Carter, Richmond, CA. I grew up in the fifties and sixties. We moved to Japan when I was 2. We moved to Montgomery, AL when I was six and I attended Capitol Heights Elementary School. These were intense times with the National Guard escorting us to class and the school. We experienced discrimination and […]
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 […]
Vincent Yanez, Long Beach, CA. For as long as I remember my mother, and myself as I got older, was given a very hard time from people in our neighborhood and some family members about my little sister, little brother, and I not being able to speak Spanish. My mother and father both grew up […]
Sandra Miller, USA There is only one race – human. I am proud of my Semitic heritage, and I check other.
Hannah Killen, Lubbock, TX I’ve been called racially ambiguous more times than I can count. The thing is, just because I’m mixed doesn’t mean I don’t want a claim to my race. Just because I can pass as white doesn’t mean I want to pretend for the privileges. I love my culture and I take […]
Phil Audibert, Gordonsville, VA.
Rachel Brinson, Centennial, CO. People always want to put me in a box and assume what I find offensive, what I find familiar, and how I choose to see myself and others. No one chooses to see human first, identity second. I will forever be explaining that the body given to me is arbitrary, and […]
Emery Boyle-Scott, Milwaukee, WI. I want to belong in a group, and it’s nice to belong until someone looks closely. My whiteness is always sidelined when people learn about my lesbian moms. Don’t look closely and I have all the privilege. But, then it disappears and I’m not allowed, I’m questioned on everything. There’s no […]
Heinrich Beck Melville, NY I am white. Both my parents are from Germany. I have reddish blonde hair and a red beard. My wife is Okinawan (from Japan). I went to register my older daughter for kindergarten, and they use “Power School” as an intake form. My daughter looks much more like my wife, but […]
Saya Powell Japan Thank you!
James Duvall OUTSIDE USA For the longest time, I’ve always tried to put both my Latin side and my African American side towards the end of job applications. Sometimes they would make you choose one or the other. so when that happens I would alternate between Latino and Black. But now I can finally pick […]
David Bundrick Tucker, GA My mixed race children never knew which race to select on forms. I think it made them feel different from their friends.
Brittni Staufer, Lafayette, CO. I hate having to check a box for my race.
Kelly Wickham, Springfield, IL. When I was born the white nurse told my mom that “mixed” wasn’t a category and she put “white” on my birth certificate, but my mother knew she’d be raising a child that the world would identify as black and she raised me as such.
Rocio Tapia, Forest Park, GA. Being from Mexico, I do not have any sense of race. I know what I am and do not identify with any of the categories listed when I am asked about my race or ethnicity, so I often leave it blank or choose “Other” if I am pressed to select […]
Patricia Linderman, Mexico. I’m the spouse of a US diplomat, and we have lived in four Latin American countries for a total of 11 years. We have sometimes seen strong discrimination and heard ugly remarks against people in these societies with darker skin color. It is definitely not just a U.S. and European problem. Besides […]
Louis E. Perego Moreno, New York, NY. All my life, I have been out of more than one box. However, after wrestling with the subject for over 20 years, I have arrived at a point in my journey where my identity is defined by belonging to three worlds: Latino, Gay and USA. Many Hispanics in […]
SM Boston, MA When I was 22, I received my first speeding ticket, which I deserved as I was speeding. It was a speed trap on a major US highway on the way back to Boston. I accepted the ticket without contest, but since it was my first speeding violation I choose to appear in […]
Priya Charry, Middletown, CT. Much too complicated to be expressed in a single word. Jewish father of Eastern European descent, Trinidadian mother of Indian descent.
Malcolm X. Mosely, Lorain, OH. I started using “Other long ago when they first started putting it on an option and I could start filling out forms when I started entering college in the early 90’s and there after. The reason I have done this is because I am not only Black and White, I […]
Jazmin Whitmore, Asheville, NC. I am the result of two worlds but I was only raised in one. My father was Jamaican and my mother was European/Native American mix. My mother raised me. Although it was not her intention she raised me to be “white”. I did not realize how devoid I was of my […]
Kira Henstenburg, Washington, DC. Mixed race Russian-Kazakh. Adopted. I’m not considered “asian enough” to be invited to anime conventions. I’m not comfortable taking a strong stance on race in class discussions because I’m considered white. I’m told I “look a lot like my father.” If I say I was born in Russia, people assume my […]
Annaleisle Gingher Peachtree City, GA Understanding my ethnicity has explained so much and helped me understand who I am. I may be classified in a box as “white” but I am a second generation Sicilian with dark skin and dark hair. I’ve always identified with other races. Only to understand we are all the same […]
Sergio R Velazquez, Lowell, MA. The label Latino bothers me, same as Hispanic. Both have colonial roots and do not properly represent any specific group or culture. This is why I always select OTHER and fill in Cuban. Just my five cents worth.
Maggie Martinez, WEST PALM BEACH, FL. When I get the chance to check “other ” on any form it makes me feel as if I am tearing down another little wall and letting the form creators know that I will not be put in a box. Race is fake and constructed to keep people of […]
Leslie Lannan, Cincinnati, OH. It’s amazing how desperate we are in America to racially categorize our citizens based on how they look. My six words are a reference to a recent doctor’s visit. After discussing my ailments and general health, the doctor had one more question for me. “What is your race?” she asked. I […]
Zeren New York City, NY I’m a mixed ethnicity Palestinian-Arab, European, Afghan American…I naturally have light skin, eyes and hair as many Arabs, whites and Afghans do. But I grew up in China where I was a minority on more than one count, not just my skin color, but my ethnicity and my nationality kept […]
Carissa Lew, CA. Being born in America but having my heritage from China leads me to believe I should choose one or the other. Many people question me about how “connected” I am to my heritage, but truth be told..I’m not very in tune with my Chinese culture. It’s difficult to discern who I really […]
Whitney, Durham, NC. More 6-word offerings… – Life was less racial in Europe – Look black, more than half white – Ticked one box, denied one parent – Forced to deny half my heritage – Why should I pick just one? It’s not that race isn’t an issue in Europe, more that after nearly 8 […]
Rachel Masilamani, Pittsburgh, PA. I was eating lunch alone in the break room on my first day at an office job when 3 of my new co-workers peeked in. “Are you Hispanic, or just Italian?” one of them blurted out. Neither, actually. This lady just laid down her line for White and Not White and […]
Aimee Mallery, Rochester, NY. My daughter is Native American on her father’s side. When faced with a form for daycare, I had to choose whether to label her Native American or Caucasian. They insisted she couldn’t be both.
Giosue Romano, Annapolis, MD. I thought Italians were white. Does this mean we are POC, or do we get out one box now?
Cheryl Mercado Arnedt, West Orange, NJ. My grandmother and her sister — red-headed daughters of NYC cops — both married full Filipino men and were disowned. There was no race in our family – just rice AND potatoes at every meal. My grandfather “Pupa” intentionally didn’t pass down his Asian-ness or his language Tagalog so […]
Anonymous, Baltimore, MD. When people discuss race, they seem to refer to only people of color. I always check Caucasian on forms. At the doctors yesterday, there was a new option, Eastern European. It felt like a better fit for me. Just because my skin lacks pigment, doesn’t mean that I am the same as […]
Emily Bailon, Santa Clara, CA.
Anonymous, Memphis, TN. I feel like I have a wonderful heritage full of rich culture. Italian and Native American mostly, but when people look at me, that all goes away and I’m just white. Especially where I currently live, when my husband, who has his roll number, marks Native American, human resources directors say, “Same […]
Lynn, Great Falls, SC. I tend to look white; especially when not in the sun. I’m actually a mix of: European (German, Irish, & British), Native American (Seminole, Cherokee, & Muskogee Creek), Black (African -sub-sahara regions- and Melanesian), and Middle Eastern (Syrian, Turkish, Indian (India) & Iranian)…….Somehow I ended up looking more European instead……I hate […]
Cassandra Young, Norfolk, VA. Often times when filling out a survey or application we are asked to select our race. Many of the times the directions state to only choose one. I am biracial and one race does not define me.
Karen Jericho, NY Racial discrimination towards asians is unfair. We deserve the same treatment in the media, politics, and college application process. It makes me wish I was black.
Marta Silva-Serrano Lenexa, KS Sad statement by an immigration officer when I had to fill in my request for a Social Security Number in order to work as a doctoral student in a Kansas University. I am from Spain and I had never been asked about my race before.
Raj Merchant Philadelphia, PA Hey my name is Raj Merchant. I am Indian so technically I am Asian. I am a high school student, and I go to a magnet school called Central High School of Philadelphia. My grandfather said this line when I was going over the thing that were on the PSAT. When […]
Dominic, Minneapolis, MN. As the saying goes, if I have a quarter for every time… In my case, if I had a quarter for every time an adult said to me, “I’m sorry, I just have to ask–your daughter–what is she?” I know what response each of these inquisitions intends. With quizzical eyes trained on […]
Ben, Madison, WI. Every time I think about race, especially when I’m asked to indicate it, I feel three things: anxiety, resentment and shame. Anxiety: Even if I have the option not to indicate my race I feel a wave of anxiety. I have a “White name” and light skin, English was my first language, […]
Mary Crescenzo, USA. I most always add a “human” box to check, or fill in the blank with “human” on such requests on forms.
Mason Colquitt, Athens, GA.
Catherine Chase Yaghi, Stockton, CA. I hate having to exclude a part of myself when checking ethnicity on a form. The options white (non-hispanic) always threw me. It almost always goes with “Check only one”. I’m both!! What do I check?
Kathy Smith-Wenning, Highlands, NJ. My boxes check white, Anglo-Saxon but the ethnicity of my heart is Mexican. That is for all the good, the beauty, and the kindness afforded to me by the Mexican people here in NJ and Oaxaca, Mexico.
Heather Holdridge, Dunwoody, GA. I am a high school student and every time I take a standardized test it asks me for my race and ethnicity. Why do these questions matter? We are all human.
Jackie Loya-Torres Kansas City, MO As a small child in the 1970s, I remember having to take some sort of standardized test in school. You know…the ones where you need a #2 pencil to fill in the ovals? On the cover page, in addition to listing my name, gender and age, I was asked to […]
Tracy, Pittsburgh, PA. During the summer I’m darker so I’m African American, during the winter I’m lighter so I’m other. My family comes from a mix of dark and light skinned Spaniards, French and Jews. We are Dominican. I am American.
Jolie Anne Chevalier, San Jose, CA. This is me at eight years old back in 1979, the daughter of an African-American/Seminole Indian mother, and a Irish-French-American father. Growing up, I was faced with contradictions in a world of opposites; although I was multiracial my mother told me I was Black, and to identify as such […]
Walter Thompson-Hernandez, Los Angeles, CA. I am a native of Los Angeles, California and the proud son of an African American father and a first-generation Mexican immigrant mother.
Aaron Yeh, Las Vegas, NV. White mother, Chinese father, I was raised by my mom and don’t speak Chinese. Sometimes I look in the mirror and my Asian features surprise me. It’s startling how I identify more with being ‘white’ than anything else. The “other” box on forms asking my ethnicity has always comforted me, […]
Cody Fong CA I’m half white and half Asian. And if there isn’t an “Other” box I decline to answer.
Jocelyn Nikohl Fox, Houston, TX. Mulatto.
Michele Malmstrom, Charlottesville, VA. My daughter has always had very low self-esteem. I tried her entire life to address the problem by complimenting her and giving her the tools for building her confidence: cello lesson, in which she excelled, girl scouts where she achieved the silver award, college educated with a B.A. and at 24 […]
Angie Cruz, Los Angeles, CA. As a person of brown skin color and Latin heritage, I am often spoken to in Spanish by strangers with the assumption that I only speak that language. It can often be demeaning when people assume that because I have a culture different than the “majority”, I am automatically categorized […]
Bridget, Washington, DC. As a child growing up in the Texas Hill Country I was often told to go back to Mexico. I didn’t speak Spanish, and I’m half white. German, Irish, and Finnish to be exact. My dark, curly, frizzy hair and olive skin won me no favors. Years later I live in DC. […]
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 […]
Eric D., Houston, TX. While my son was in elementary school, I asked what race dose he tells his schoolmates he was. He quickly responded, “White”. When I asked why, he said that his skin color wasn’t brown or black. As he grew older he learned about both his Spanish and African American heritage. Now […]
Choua Yang, Green Bay, WI. I was one of the lucky to escape Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War conflict. It was 1980 and I was only a baby when I came to the United States. As I progressed through school, I was immersed in western culture everywhere but my home; and it frustrated me […]
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.
Mara Leveritt, Little Rock, AR. When I donate blood to the Red Cross someone looks at me and identifies me as “Caucasian” on their form. No person can identify “race” for another, but this has gone on for years, even though I decline to be racially classified. How many institutions, government and private, that are […]
Michael S., Elk Grove, CA. My mom divorced and remarried 3 times with 3 different men with totally different race and had a child from each marriage. Her first marriage was gentlemen from Jamaica, second was a man from Ecuador, and last was from Thai. My mom been immersed and learned every one of her […]
Kristina T., Oklahoma City, OK. I’m half Native American and half Mexican. I have 3 tribes’ blood that runs through my veins along with Mexican blood. Most people consider and see me as one or the other. I speak and know my Mexican culture, but when it comes to my Native culture, I’m completely lost. […]
Alexis Henson Sacramento, CA
Matthew Cannella, Norfolk, VA.
Andrea Alexander, Rochelle Park, NJ. The constant dilemma of “boxing” your identity when your category is not among the selections.
Catherine Kehl, Cleveland Heights. OH. When we divide ourselves into “us” and “other” we don’t only lose the other, we lose ourselves. I was twenty-seven before I realized that my mother sometimes spoke to me in Spanish not because she’d picked some up in college before travelling in South America in her twenties, but because […]
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 Lewis , Submitted via Twitter: @ECLECTICCHAIR.
Jerrel A. Burgo, Syracuse, NY. The Race Card Project On Location: Syracuse University My race/ethnicity is not easily identifiable for many people. No one’s race/ethnicity should be deemed “easily identifiable”. Humans do not fit into boxes that were constructed for us. We choose, on our own, how we identify. Many times, people will ask me, […]
Elizabeth Soda Cupertino, VA Being from a mixed racial background brings a whole other set of issues. Your not White enough to be White and not Asian enough to be Asian. All the racial surveys out there that force me to pick one of my “halves” over another just highlight how much further we have […]
Myriah, Arlington, VA. All my life I’ve gotten the “what are you?” question. It seems to be human nature to try and categorize people in order to identify them better somehow. Being French Creole and Sicilian, I have always loved being racially ambiguous, because my identity goes way beyond man made categories. I am physically […]
Ahmed B. Middlebury, VT When your name is supposed to be an indicator of your ethnicity, religion, the language you speak, and everything else. And when you can’t change it, because you don’t have citizenship yet.
Josh Smith, Sacramento, CA. My son is 3 years old, and the son of a white male with no real cultural identity (myself) and a Mexican woman (my wife Yadira) who is the first-born daughter of Mexican immigrants, with a large family that celebrates its culture and traditions often. I frequently wonder which ethnicity he’ll […]
Nina Haug Richardson, TX While applying for college, I realized that I have no “hook” – the box, story, or line that might make me more than just another high-achieving middle class white girl applying to too many schools. And I had absolutely no right to complain about this – I grew up in a […]
Massiel Ramos, Bronx, NY. Sometimes your race depends on the people and culture you associate yourself with. If that’s the case, I’ll never fit into one solid category.
Carol Hodgspeth, Berkeley, CA. Race is important to talk about, but we can’t be boxed in by it. Be critical!
Jay Marie Fernandez, Bridgeport, CT. With white skin, being of Hispanic origin, in a household that did not speak Spanish, in a predominantly Spanish speaking neighborhood, this sentiment taught me being Hispanic or Latina was something to be hidden. The kids hated me because I thought I was better than them, proudly pri-claiming “I’m white”…now […]
Laura N. Weston, Baltimore, MD. About 80% of the time people assume (mostly men) I am Puerto Rican even though I am half Caucasian and half African American. I stress to everyone who thinks it is important enough to ask me what I am that I am Mixed or Biracial and I state with what. […]
Eirann Betka, Grand Rapids, MI. I wish white wasn’t a race. Because where does that mean I come from? I am given five options of classifications to choose from. Five checkboxes. None of which correctly identify my origin, and of all of them, white seems vague and without a home. Where is white? How can […]
Jade Pritchett, Port St. Lucie, FL. Growing up, I never understood how I was supposed to chose a bubble, check a box, pick one race. I am multiracial, and proud of it. Teachers would tell me to choose the one that I “feel”. Does that mean that I can’t feel them all? When I grew […]
Blair White Haddad, Los Angeles, CA. Being the child of an adopted mother, for a long time I only knew half of my genetic make up. After being reunited with my bio grandmother we discovered our Native American/ French background. My whole life I’ve been asked the question- what are you? Instead of identifying myself […]
Erica Watts, Arlington, TX. Growing up, I believed that I was all African American. My mother was African American and so was my brother and that is all I needed to know, to know that I was African American. However, as i got older, people began to question my ethnicity. Some claiming that I looked […]
Mia Manning, Atlanta, GA.
Cortney Pouncey, Sacramento, CA. Being biracial, my hands have always been forced to choose what ethnicity I should identify as. In reality, I am just as black as I am white. How could I pick one and deny the other? I believe biracial people are the key to end racism.
Anonymous, Canada. I pass. You’d never guess. I’m spared alot of the cliched terrorist rhetoric. I don’t fear any of my family members will extra judiciary arrest or detainment. So I win right? Sure, but I feel like I’m cheating. It feels equally disingenous to be “just” a white girl as it dose to insert […]
Vince Darcangelo, Flort Collins, CO. “Sadly, I believe that underlying the race issue is a deeper human need (perhaps fear- or anxiety-driven) to label and discount those different from us. I don’t believe it’s as simple as skin color. Skin color is simply the signifier that facilitates easy division or grouping. If we were all […]
Belva Brown Jordan, Claremont, CA. Often, people make assumptions when they see me, before actually meeting me or knowing anything about me. They think they know which “box” to put me in. Based on little information they assume to know who I am, where I come from, what I experienced as a child, my intellectual […]