Brian Isaac Rizowy, Israel. Born and raised in the USA to Jewish parents, one from Sarandi Grande, Uruguay, the other from Chicago, I am nearly 100% Polish, with a dash of Russian and Mongolian thrown in. My great grandmother hid her Asian features with swanky glasses from the 1940s and 50s, lest anyone suspect her […]
Kelli Watson, Chicago, IL. I grew up in a predominately white suburb in Chicago. We were the first black family to move to my block in 1987 and one of a handful in the school district. Around the age of 10 or so, I started to get this question over and over, “you talk white. […]
Gary Baldwin, Chicago, IL.
DeAnna Calderon, Austin, TX. I grew up poor in the Southside of Chicago. We were extremely poor and even homeless at times. Sleeping outside in the middle of winter when I was a child. When I was 22 I joined the Army. The treatment I faced as a woman in the military felt like it […]
Jamal Wills, MD. People often say that black kids need black role models. I sort of cheated. The wild hair, thoughtful eyes, the chin and the smile always reminded me of my grandfather. Yet, Albert Einstein was a German Jew whose prominence in the scientific community reached celebrity status. Even then, he still had to […]
Leah Lee (now Leah Durst-Lee), Chicago, IL. Keeping cultural heritage is very important to me, so when I married my husband, Sihyun Lee, I wanted our kids to have a Korean surname. Our first year and a half of marriage, I took my husband’s name and became ‘Leah Lee.’ It was awful! Almost everyone I […]
Brandi Green, Chicago, IL. I constantly am asked “what I am” or “are you mixed” Nope. I’m black and albino. It’s a fascinating existence.
Mike McNamara Chicago, IL Especially in the non-winter months because he gets so dark. Growing up in Tucson, he was sometimes mistaken for Mexican, which makes sense when you look at him from afar. But only recently has he felt uncomfortable going home to visit his family based on that same mistake that people have […]
Laura Ann Lane, Chicago, IL. I was a paralegal at a large firm and the partners knew I was applying to law school. When a sicilian American partner found out that I was accepted to Northwestern University School of law he said, “The headlines will say, ‘Ghetto Girl Makes Good!” He meant that as a […]
Mark Cooper Lafayette, IN In elementary school, my best friend turned to me and said, “Mark, I don’t even think of you as asian anymore!” I knew he meant that our friendship had stepped beyond perceived race, but the phrasing could not be anymore alienating. I have family that trace back to the Mayflower, to […]
Kirl T. Lawson, Oakland, CA. I have so many tales to share about my experience with my color (or lack of “definitive color recognition”). growing up in Chicago, I was called “a white n*****” by friends at times w/ affection and at times derisively. Initially the appellation hurt my feelings until I took an objective […]
Enkhsolongo, Chicago, IL.
Clayton Kobilca, Chicago, IL.
Lynette Neal, Chicago, IL. Many times as a brown girl, it’s hard accepting that this skin we are in is no less than the fair skin someone else may posses. As a young darker complected woman it is important to see other brown women wearing their skin with confidence and a head held high not […]
Seema, Chicago, IL. Women already have identity issues because of an extreme and over-sexed image of women in Hollywood. Additionally, women of color are marginalized because of their under-representation in TV, movies, magazines and advertising. As an Asian-American woman, I see very few Asian men and women and when I do see them, we are […]
Tom Lau, Chicago, IL. This is a Polaroid of the back of my mom and dad that I took few years ago.
Jenn M. Jackson, Chicago, IL. Every single day I am accused of “making things about race.” I’m told that I’m “looking for racism” in everything. I’m told I must lead a sad, angsty life since I can’t stop pulling the “race card.” I often get this feedback from Whites who feel uncomfortable when I note […]
Bea Melnarowicz, Chicago, IL My daughter is bi-racial: her father is Spanish-French-Mexican, and I am Eastern European Caucasian. I am often told she looks ‘nothing’ like me, even jokingly by some of my friends. I am surprised each time I hear this considering the age and time we live in. The tone is rarely friendly, […]
Charles McCoy Owens, Chicago, IL. Throughout my life, both professional and private, white people who are friends have said to me that race doesn’t matter and that they see me as Charlie, a person just like everybody else. Interestingly though when I am the same age as their daughters or sisters and a friendship begins […]
Katriel Hampton-King, Chicago, IL.
Mark Loup, Williams Bay, IL. This is one of the reasons I’m glad I left Chicago, one of the most segregated big cities in America. The tension just seems to overwhelm intentions. I live near the resort city of Lake Geneva in Wisconsin, and while I’m sure there’s plenty of racism here, there’s less tension. […]
Sean, Chicago, IL. We try not to see color but color fills our life. Embrace it.
Hadsim, Chicago, IL. Grew up in Detroit. 1970s. Did time in the Nation of Islam for 2 years. Father was discriminated against at work (thus the NOI). My mother just didn’t like white people. I’m was raised to hate them. And 40-plus years on, my parents’ anger left a residue that difficult to watch off. […]
Eric N. Harris, Chicago, IL. At age 40, I’ve come to realize that Life is the Classroom of Knowledge and I still have a lot to learn. May both my Race Card + accompanying photo show it.
Terri, Chicago, IL. Um…neither – Really. That is the first question asked by someone who had just met me. Really? That’s the first question you ask me? We really need to stop defining each other by one or two word descriptions and take a few moments to get to know each other beyond the generalizations […]
Richard A. Cummings, Chicago, IL.
Tom Woodworth, Chicago, IL. I was never a bigot (I would like to claim), but a disturbing epiphany came when I realized my troubled personal relations were much my fault, due to my blaming it on “how those people are,” overgeneralizations I just had, just absorbed somehow, somewhere, and never been caused to question before.
Gwyn, Chicago, IL. My Dad was born in Japan to a Caucasian Father and a Japanese mother. He moved to America with his father and siblings and unfortunately had to leave his mother behind. He no longer speaks Japanese, but he still holds his heritage very dear to him, placing various objects from Japan around […]
Margaret Metobo, Chicago, IL. I feel that anywhere I go people look at my race first before I’m human and that’s the way I carry myself out of security.
Pursuit of social justice seems subsumed within an empty space of cliches. Can we transcend the superficial to create real equity in our world?
Jeremy Jones, Chicago, IL.
Ashley Kirkwood, Chicago, IL.
Tim McGovern, Chicago, IL. I live in a racially integrated neighborhood on the South Side of Chicago. You go to the playgrounds and there are kids of all races playing together, parents talking over coffee and bonding over the crazy things that four-year-olds do. The public school kindergartens, first grades, second grades, third and fourth, […]
Kari Pennington, Chicago, IL. I never have to worry that my brothers, my husband, or my white friends will be violently harassed, assaulted, or killed by the police, the court system, neighborhood watch vigilanties, or any other person or institutions. It happens so rarely to white men that those fears for their safety never keep […]
Mike Padden, Chicago, IL. The conversation would be much if improved if the inflammatory and innacurate term “racism” were substituted with the much more accurate and potentially productive term “prejudice”.
Francis Skony, Chicago, IL. Being an almost 40 year old man from Chicago, I’ve always grown up with a melting pot of friends, acquaintances, co-workers. I do not judge anyone by their race – I will have an opinion based on how some present themselves to the world. If you have no respect and no […]
Damola Adebayo, Chicago, IL. It’s unfortunate how frequently the term “ghetto” is used so flippantly to describe undesirable, often “characteristically” African-American, aspects of culture. Makes me cringe every time I hear it.
Tojo, Chicago, IL. Even the really Japanese people in my family don’t appear shockingly Asian so I can see where this comes form, but I am Japanese-American. That means I’m American too.
Amandilo Cuzan Chicago, IL Knowledge is power. Beyond the emotion we all benefit from studying the real history of race in America and the world. Too often we shy away from the realities of the European slave economy, Reconstruction, Eugenics, Jim Crow, and the current Prison-Industrial-Complex. Blind is blind no matter how you look at […]
William Josephs Chicago, IL
Michelle K. Chicago, IL Racist men who are interested in me solely for their “yellow fever”: my skin is not your accessory. Racist people who want to befriend me solely because they “loooove” my culture: my skin is not your accessory. Racist people who think being Asian is all about KPop and “kawaii”: my skin […]
Angela Clark Walker Chicago, IL
Roy Kutz Chicago, IL An innocent child pays a horrible price for presuming he can interact equally with white people a rich, famous man who interacts mostly with white people receives an undeserved dividend. Redemption is often unjust.
Nick Rabkin Chicago, IL So much of who I am is comes from my sense that the fight for civil rights is really the fight for the real American dream. I was active in the campaign to elect Harold Washington mayor of Chicago, and I worked in his administration. Harold!
Isaac Chicago, IL Check out this video about a blind date gone wrong once a young lady realizes her date is exactly what she said she was looking for: Tall, dark, and handsome. Clicking on the link below will take you to youtube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bDq_wEGwZNA
Annie Chicago, IL I AM NOT AFRICAN, NEVER BEEN THERE AND DON’ CARE TO GO. I WAS BORN ON AMERICA SOIL. DON’T CALL/LABEL ME ONETHING SO ONE RACE CAN FEEL SUPERIOR OR LESS DOMINANT. I HAVE YET TO SEE A BLACK PERSON OR A WHITE PERSON. WHERE ARE THEY?
Mark Allen Kleiman Venice, CA As a student activist back in the day, I fought de facto segregation. It breaks my heart to see how quickly things slid back. A “kinder, gentler” end to a “kinder, gentler” Reconstruction. Only nationwide.
Chyealla C McBride Chicago, IL I’m an emotional person, but I wasn’t raised to properly express emotion. In learning and reading about other’s experiences, gave me language and comparisons to my own experience in the world. Starting with empathy for my people’s struggles, I grew to be able to express myself emotionally in ways I […]
Poppy Davis Chicago, IL Sometimes, even though affirmative action has done great things for minority races, I feel as a person of Asian descent, that it’s nothing more than a policy put into place by white leaders who think they know what’s best for minorities. Am I wrong or do my feelings have validity?
Bobby Chicago, IL Current iterations of affirmative action programs are a relic of the narrowminded thinking of the past century. They should be reformed to award assistance based on socio-economic status, not race/gender/religion/etc. To truly help all disadvantaged people we must break from the outmoded thinking of archaic legislation.
Jewell Chicago, Il Someone asked me how I knew what endorphins are…my response was; I read books and graduated from college too. Someone else stated to me, “well you have really traveled haven’t you”. AMAZING, to think this kind of thinking is not more abated; in this day and age.
Lamont Walton Chicago, IL University of Michigan Law
Marc Dumas Chicago, IL Growing up going to integrated schools, I’ve always been told this. My response, as drilled into me by my parents, was “Of course I do. This is what black sounds like…from my mouth.”
Celina Chatman Nelson, Chicago, IL. We are constantly trying to essentialize race when in fact it is not a biological reality–there is no gene for race, nor even any particular constellation of genes that identifies a race. We made race up to categorize people like we categorize things. That said, because these categories are so […]
Kathleen Cole Chicago, IL
John Q. Kontos Chicago, IL Sometimes, I wish that there were alien cultures that were a potential threat to our existence on earth, then and perhaps only then, would we view ourselves as one people instead of our current hateful and racist thinking. We all need a reminder from time to time that we are […]
Shani Blackwell Chicago, IL Who decides when people who have experienced inequality should get over those experiences?
Jimmie Jones Washington DC My father spent 30 years preserving the genealogy of our family through three generations. My early Summers were spent recording voices, taking pictures, tracing gravestones and memorizing family trees into three generations. His book and his legacy led me to the plantation where I met ancestors, reclaimed cotton, cried into soil […]
T.J. Chicago, IL Yes, I’m the Great White Devil himself. I came here to the U.S., killed ALL the injuns I could find (actually, my great-great grandmother was a 16 year old Cherokee half breed when she gave birth to my great grandmother, whom I had the pleasure of knowing.) I whipped and beat n*****s […]
Anonymous Chicago, IL I am female and white. Often I am told by my POC friends that my life is easier than theirs and I am privileged because I am white. We discuss race and culture because we are comfortable and open with one another. I hear their points of view on a predominately white […]
Ali Hill Chicago, IL People have always boasted the importance of a first impression, but I don’t understand why. The very first impression, in almost every case, is superficial. We see someone and judge them, we hear someone and judge them. Have a conversation. Discover all the ways you can relate to someone, despite how […]
Phyllis Batson Chicago, IL It’s tiresome for folks who are, even in this day and age, ‘first’ or ‘only’. I would so much rather be the ‘go to’ person for legitimate dialog than that friend, colleague, neighbor who is somehow OK, the proverbial exception to the rule. It negates who I am and who we […]
Joan Maxwell Chicago, IL This happened to me in college in 1971. I was an education major, and a black student spoke to our Philosophy of Education class. He asked the students to raise their hands if they felt they were not racist. I raised my hand. I was the only one who raised my […]
Danielle Amodeo Chicago, IL Only being 18, I have come into contact with a spew of racism and judgment. Being labeled before even saying anything, because of the way I look is not the way I expected it to be today. People would be surprised to know that I am just as human as they […]
James Washington Chicago, IL It’s much easier to cling to race than force myself to go to college. It’s about time it become about my attitude and willingness too, not just “their” attitude.
Julia Chicago, IL I tried to post this last week but don’t see it. I hope it gets there this time. I listen to non-whites talk about how they are treated and I’ve been treated the same way. Since I am white, I think some of it is elitism. The elites think everyone who is […]
Bart71 Chicago, IL I am who I am. I accept who I am. I love who I am. Black men have jumped over all forms of racism in the past and will continue to jump over them. I know that daily I defy all stereotypes. It makes me stronger. It keeps me on my game. […]
Joseph L Collins Jr Omaha, NE Ashland Avenue in Chicago was the street you could not west of it at 69th street or you would get beat up by White men/boys in the early 60’s. A white priest was a defender of the neighborhood that let that hate happen. God is about Love and that […]
Azeem Raheem Chicago, IL Happened about a week after 9/11 as I was headed home from school on a Chicago train.
Maren Robinson Chicago, IL I watched how my American-born half-Iranian husband went from being perceived as white (Iranians are Caucasian) to being perceived as vaguely “middle eastern” (eliciting double takes on trains and extra searches at airports) after September 11th. He is an actor, so I have also watched him play characters who are Caucasian, […]
Michael Kassin New York, NY Ivan was one young man among many that I taught at St. Anne H.S. in Illinois–40 years ago. But he left the biggest impression. He lived with his grandmother in a trailer. I don’t know where his parents were (I did meet his grandmother, sister and brother). He shuttled between […]
Michael H Chicago, IL I grew up listening to Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy talk about their dream of a society that one day would be “color blind”. Forty years later, I feel like we’re as far as ever from that goal. In fact, I suspect most Americans would prefer to perpetuate the distinctions […]
Susan A. Chicago, IL Stereotypes that are now labeled as racist, actually have nothing to do with race. Actually, it is cultural difference which causes problems. Culture is what forms differences in values, ways of speaking, ways of dressing, whether people talk in loud voices or quiet voices, what people eat, what their cooking smells […]
Abraham Wang Chicago, IL I am Asian and I live in Chicago, which has a large African-American population. I’ve been the victim of racial harassment by black youth on several occasions. I don’t judge all African-Americans on the actions of a few because none of my African-American friends behave like that. But I’m disappointed at […]
Ingrid Monson Newton, MA I’m white but lived in a black neighborhood in Chicago for part of the 1990s. I tried to get a plumbing firm from a nearby white neighborhood to come and clear a sewer pipe blocked by a tree root. Everything was fine until I gave him the address of the house […]
Richard Bacon Chicago, IL Mid 1970s living in perfectly nice middle class neighborhood in NE Dallas Texas. The desecration, by busing, of the neighborhood school (which was mediocre anyway) caused about half the families with school age children to move out in one summer. My best friend moved. Those of us who stayed were dispersed […]
Jana French Chicago, IL Craving honest conversations about race in America. Must get over white baby boomer guilt and talk frankly about what unites and what separates us. I have faith in GenX.
Rom Barkhordar Chicago, IL This was a brief exchange with someone I just met who, to his defense, had a few beers and was feeling rather boisterous. I explained to him that I am an actor in Chicago, doing a theatrical production where I play a middle-eastern character. He is also an actor, but found […]
Owen O’Riordan Chicago, IL Mom lived between Ireland and US growing up. She spoke like the Irish in Ireland and then changed to Midwestern in America. My parents moved to Chicago in the 80s and surrounded themselves with other Irish people and my mom now sounds American but my dad sounds like he just stepped […]
Barrett Murphy Chicago, IL People en masse are bad, they are obnoxious, racist and worse, think mob mentality. People as individuals are good and decent. A lot of racism in our country comes from the people, not from persons. Ask anyone who works as a public servant and they will understand exactly the difference between […]
Simon A. Smith Chicago, IL With the wealth gap growing out of control so many people are getting swallowed up and spit out by greedy corporations and the almighty dollar. As a high school teacher on the south side of Chicago I talk about this a lot with my students, and the fact that they […]
Mike Chen Chicago, IL My wife and I were both born and raised in New York. Our parents immigrated from Asia in the 70s, and are all naturalized citizens. We speak fluent English without an accent. We have always identified ourselves as Americans. This question comes up disappointingly often, typically asked in a few variations […]
Florence L. Tate Sarasota, FL When I was three years old I sat with my grandparents around the fireplace and listened to my father reading the Chicago defender about the details of my cousin’s lynching .
Charles Edward Stanfield Chicago, IL The people know my work.
Rachel Kay Cleveland, OH Having been born in new york and raised in Chicago, I knew that antisemitism was real, but even if I ran across some ignorance where I grew up it was never in a vacuum of exposure to Jewish people or culture. When I was in college in Iowa I experienced, for […]
Ranjana Rajendran Chicago, IL
Dov Kawamoto Woodbridge, VA
Joseph Kannookadan Chicago, IL
Julie Jackson Chicago, IL
Simone Jelics Chicago, IL
Sheila Bailey Chicago, IL Recently found myself on an elevator in downtown Chicago with a white woman who looked to be in her fragile 80s. As the doors closed, she retreated to the corner opposite from where I was standing and hugged her purse to her chest. I wish you could have seen the look […]
Chicago, IL Submitted via Twitter: @SoulbyMax