Karen Gephart Altschul, Vernon Hills, IL. I was five, the first time I can remember somebody asking me that question. “What are you? Chinese or something?” Huh? Um, what are you talking about? I’ve been asked this question, “what are you”, on the first day at a job. A girl from China asked me if […]
Heather Saskia Nichols, Maple Grove, MN. I do not bleach my hair. I do not color my hair. I do not highlight my hair. I do not think about my hair. I do not think with my hair. Why am I called dumb because of my hair? In 7th grade, I stopped talking in class. […]
Anonymous London (studying in Chapel Hill)
Erin Fischer, Boulder, CO. This is actually the end of a quote from Abraham Verghese’s novel, Cutting for Stone. The whole quote says “Accent be damned in Africa, as long as it’s foreign and you have the right skin color.” It is referencing how a person who was low class and not well educated in […]
Student Century College, MN As an English language learner, sometimes I feel bad, shy, and ashamed. I still struggle as everybody moves on. Every day I am waiting to understand what everybody understands. By that time I am going to feel I am a big man. See more from the Century Race Card Project conversation: […]
Shakira, Phoenix, AZ. One day after our teacher snapped photos of our class she developed them in black and white and scattered them out on a table and told us to find ourselves. I got frustrated because I could not find my photo; that day my mother was volunteering as class mother and she pointed […]
Isabel Nicole Otero Hernandez, Silver Spring, MD. I was born in Puerto Rico to a Cuban Mother and a Puerto Rican Father. The summer I turned 10 my family moved to Jacksonville, FL, and only a year later moved again to a small town to the north: Ringgold, Georgia. When people ask me where I […]
Jameel Morrison, Submitted via Twitter: @jameelmorrison.
Jules M. Marquart, Louisville, KY. In Louisville during the pre-busing 1960s, this “screening” question was based on assumptions and generalizations about race and class. A high school in the West End of the city–African-American (Negro or Black back then) and poor; in the South End–white and red neck; and in the East End–white and privileged.
Katie Rotondo, El Segundo, CA. I’ve been learning a lot about race and ethnicity lately. Looking back, it bothers me how many times I was asked what ethnicity I am, responding by saying I am Italian, and getting the famous saying, “But you don’t look Italian!” This is a daily response. Just because I don’t […]
Anna Russell, Mangum, OK. #TheRaceCard is used by government to muddy the REAL ISSUE, the class divisions. When ppl are crammed in the ghettos of the largest cities it breeds contempt. Jobs and parents are scarce. Violence reigns supreme. The majority in the inner cities are black but not all, every color is there and […]
Annie Woodbridgem VA In high school, a white male classmate once said this to me. I am a half-Korean, half-Dominican woman. I had no idea how to respond. The context I perceived was that he meant that I spoke very clear, unaccented English, ate American-typical food staples for lunch, got excellent grades, and was in […]
Vicki Vardaman Lynn, IN When I took my 4 year old grandson to the Indianapolis Children’s museum’s exhibit of Ruby Bridge’s school and the reproduction of the empty classroom she entered, he listened intently to the story and replied, “Mamaw! I did not know that!”
Cecelia H Philadelphia, PA I remember being in fourth grade and the entire class had to make a dish displaying their ancestry and representing where your family came from. The project had my family scrambling. We don’t know what country we are from. As descendants of slaves in this country that information has been lost […]
Karen Bentwood, TN with me about what her name really was, as opposed to how the professor said it. She would say her name, the professor would butcher it, she would continue to make her points in the class discussion. After class, I decided to talk with her about the interaction. She graciously took the […]
Jean Millard Milford, MI I wanted to be part of the black culture around me because I could see the tight family ties they had. I was bullied by the kids I wanted to connect with. I remember when the first black family moved into the neighborhood. I was shocked by the comments I heard […]
Craig Woolmington-Smith, Orinda, CA. I was raised in a military family where discrimination was everywhere and a highly respected way of life, but the discrimination was based on one’s rank and nothing else. This was true up and down the ladder from Privates to Generals and was my first introduction to meritocracy, although we didn’t […]
Theil Baumann Ramsbey Smithfield, RI Everyone was so friendly when my family moved when I was in second grade. It was because, a classmate told me years later, they had never had a Negro in their class before. I am Caucasian but have olive skin that can tan deeply (although I never do this now!).
Pamela Tish, Dupo, IL. When I began my first teaching job in Cahokia, IL, “Any black kids in your class?” was always one of the first questions asked by friends and family. I return to that question in my own mind so often as I look across my classrooms, 20 years and three jobs later, […]
Chiyori Ishiyama Ann Arbor, MI
Sarah Fenstermaker Ann Arbor, MI Understanding Race Project- University of Michigan So many more words to say, which will be found on other cards from other participants. Great idea. Thank you.
Nate Pickett Kensington, CT If I see a group of rowdy teens in large fitted hats, Ed Hardy sweatshirts, and baggy jeans, I get a little uncomfortable, regardless if they are black, white, Hispanic, etc. If I see a group of well groomed men and women in suits carrying briefcases/laptop bags, again, regardless of race, […]
Submitted via Twitter: @GynoStar