Helen Nelson, Saxonburg, PA. I grew up working in the tobacco fields. Cutting tobacco with an ax. Piling the plants. Stringing plants on a wooden lathe with a spear. I was a dying breed, is what they told me in college. No one believes me now that this is who I was and who I […]
Jacquie Arnold, Hopkinton, MA. I was an A student at Key West High School when I graduated from Key West High School in 1981. While applying to top ranked colleges, my guidance counselor, Mrs. Adair, told me that Stanford University was not for students like me. I’m African American. I knew what she meant. I […]
Leslie Troyer, Sammamish, WA. I was raised in a very WASP’ish environment. There was very little opportunity to interact with people of color or alternative life styles. When opportunity did present I focused on the situation, not what the person looked like. In High School, I worked for a woman while working on a charter […]
Ayla A. Wilk, Blacksburg, VA. I grew up in a small town in the south side of Virginia. Our town was built on a foundation of tobacco plantations and textile factories. We had only one high school. The population breakdown was nearly 50/50 African American to White – other ethnic groups were negligible. The blessing […]
Katelyn Crombie, CA. I never cared about race until I was in college. Before then, I was adopted from China and grew up in a family that taught me to love everyone, regardless of appearances. I was also blessed with attending a high school that was racially diverse, despite our predominately white neighborhood, and these […]
Lillian J. Hall, Dallas, TX. I was a freshman in college. I was sitting in the dining hall with a friend, near a window. It was “Texas Day”. The theme was obvious by the bails of hay, western-wear-clad employes and of course, barbecue on the menu. My friend and I were chatting, when all of […]
Beatrice Arreola Wilmington, DE It was the summer of the end of my sophomore year in college, when I got an internship in an engineering firm. It was my second engineering internship and I was excited that I was working in my field of study. I was part of the small structural section in the […]
Barry Watkins, Santa Rosa, CA. My mother took me back when she told me that. She was loving & guileless. She drove off the road when I told her I had Black roommates in SF, though I grew up in Beaumont, TX. I never thought of my roommates as “Black”, they were individuals – Ron […]
Michael Doran, Selinsgrove, PA. I am a student of music, and I love with the genre of soul/blues music like The Temptations or John Legend. Once, at an audition for the Voice, I was approached by a group of black guys who told me the six words above. It amazes how these barriers of white […]
Maria Pacheco, Riverside, CA. My parents never graduated high school. None of my family members have ever been to college. But this Chicana wants to be the first one to make a difference in my family to show them that it is never too late to go back to school and earn a degree. I […]
Eric Wall, Kent, WA. I was fortunate to be part of an integrated busing program all through elementary school. I went to college and got a master’s degree in Multicultural Education. I still spend too much time talking the talk and not walking the walk. Fully understanding the impact of Race is truly a life […]
Susan Riker Washington, DC Freshman year on the 4th floor of the International dorm at Mt Holyoke College.
Shari Miller Polk City, IA My junior year of college, I was studying abroad in Paris, France. I had joined a gym while over there, and one day as I was returning from the common shower area with just a small towel to cover me, a French woman said loudly to everyone around her: “Mon […]
Emily Scroggins, CA. I am white. 100% white. 50% of my friends are not white/part white. my boyfriend is not white at all. I say this to make a point that I do not discriminate, and I am not racist whatsoever. This being said, there is something that I haven’t spoken about publicly or to […]
Michael Tackie, Pittsburgh, PA. Upon graduation from college with a B.S.in Chemical Engineering, I got this from someone I had known for three years, someone I regarded as a friend. He was white, and majored in History or English, I forget which. I was initially amused, not understanding the subtext to what he was saying. […]
Natalie Perez Sacramento, CA
Patricia L. Gadsden, Central, PA. As an African American female in the 1960’s, I was discouraged from attending college. It was explained to me that I wasn’t college material. I’m not sure what they really meant since I graduated with straight A’s from high school.
Heather Sams, Moreno Valley, CA. My daughter is a beautiful, intelligent, biracial young lady. I am white and her father is a light skinned black man. I say those race terms that way because that is honestly how people in society view others, by color. My daughter is as pale skinned as I am. When […]
Suzie Husami, San Diego, CA. My mother and father met in college in upstate New York – he, a Lebanese -Muslim-Republican named Muhammad and she, an American non-practicing Methodist-Democrat named Maureen. They fell in love and had three daughters – Najla, our olive-skinned sister, and my twin sister and me – pale and freckled. My […]
Johnny B., USA. Growing up in thee northeast US, in a multi-racial mixed racial attitude combined with military and college education has afforded me a peaceful coexistence.
Lana Moore, Sarcoxie, MO. I am the youngest of eight children, who were all encouraged to further our education. All eight of us went to college. Our mother taught in a one room school house until she was expecting her fourth child, and our father was a mechanic.Our parents raised us to view all people […]
Jon Stuckey, Mechanicsburg, PA. I learned my 6 words based on your lovely presentation this evening at Messiah College. Thank you for coming. And thank you for your important work.
Cheryl Evans, Whitehall, PA. I am a black woman who works in a white male dominated field. Many of my coworkers, over the years, have assumed that I am not as qualified as they are because I am black. I made the Dean’s List in college. I have successfully led million dollar engineering projects. I […]
Matthew English, Lakeland, FL. Michele was at my college today for convocation. Her words spoke the truth. I will always listen.
Lucie C., San Antonio, TX. I was born in Texas just this side of the river. I’ve lived in Texas all my life although I’ve traveled a lot. One day while traveling through the Texas Hill Country, a gentleman, perhaps Pakistani perhaps Indian (I know NOT to call person either because I might be off […]
Carol Salami-Goswick Eugene, OR I’m a white woman who was born, raised, and lived in CA until I was 54. I was in college during the 60’s and was sympathetic to the black folks struggling for equality in the South. In my 30’s I had a serious relationship with a black man. I worked in […]
Christina Aviles, Bethesda, MD. “You don’t talk like most Hispanic girls do, you don’t wear your hair like them, you don’t listen to the same music as them, you’re just not, well you’re not like super Hispanic”. This is what my white college roommate said to me during our first semester of freshman year when […]
Derrick Warren, Baltimore, MD. I remember my father talking to me about his college days in Missouri. There was this fraternity on campus that would require their prospective pledges to pass what was said to be a brown bag test. Essentially, if you were darker than the brown bag, you could not get into the […]
Gene Gruber, Houghton, MI. College students don’t seem to care about racial inequality, On campus, there is a lot of racial diversity but off campus is mostly dominated by white people. There is even a place where “the Asian people live.” Nobody ever seems to try to mingle outside of campus though. I wish there […]
Susan Riker, Washginton, DC. Freshman year on the 4th floor of the International dorm at Mt Holyoke College.
Ana Canino-Fluit, Penfield, NY. I am Puerto Rican, I lived in Puerto Rico till I left for college at 17. Till I was 16 I had never given much thought to racial identity. My senior year in high school I was selected to be a exchange student to our sister school in southwestern New York […]
Anonymous, Madison, WI. I’m from Madison, WI, where Tony Robinson was killed by police. I’ve been studying at UW Madison in the Legal Study field and I planned to join MPD after college. This was before the big spike in Black Lives Matter protests. Everyday this weekend I see calls to counter the police, and […]
Olivia Sliwa, Brandon, FL. I am a freshman in college and grew up in a loving, supportive family. Myself and both of my parents are white, but the always instilled in me to treat others as I would want to be treated and to never judge anyone simply because they had a different skin tone […]
Hanne, Columbus Grove, OH. I grew up in a primarily white upper class community. Anyone in my town that are of a different ethnicity or race were adopted and brought into the community. I grew up being told to stay away from the topic of race because it will offend others. When I started college […]
Zulema Peralta-Saltos, North Hampton, MA. People believe that being Latina gives you a higher advantage at getting into college, graduate programs, internships, and jobs. I didn’t get into college to fit a quota, I got in because I am as smart as everybody else.
Sadia Rodriguez, Round Rock, TX. If I had to limit myself to a single identity, I’d say that I’m a mother of twins above all else. Sure, I’m also a business analyst, a blogger, a divorcee, a permanent resident of the US, a holder of British and Bangladeshi passports and a former US Army wife. […]
Carla Washington, New York, NY.
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 […]
Amanda Rae, Houghton, MI. I go to college in a very predominantly white city at the northern tip of Michigan. Here the student population is massively more diverse than the town around it. There are few black people but many Chinese and Indian students. There are no rules separating the different groups but we see […]
Katherine Barrax, Sherman, TX. I grew up in a house with parents who both went to college. I was reading before I entered kindergarten, and I was always corrected when I spoke incorrect English. So my entire life people have said “you sound white” or “you’re not really black” because I speak like an educated […]
Nzingha Shakur-Ali, Dallas, TX. First week of college, 1999, Abilene Texas. went to an off the way antique shop. The store owner didn’t want me there, and let me know it. About 5 other people in the store, all white, glaring at me.
Val Andrew, Overland, MO. My parents taught us early on to accept all people and invited international college students of different races, religions, and nationalities to stay with us during holidays. During the Vietnam War we hosted an AFS student from Vietnam for a year. I grew up a few miles from Ferguson and taught […]
Alexandra Gradwell, Pittsburgh, PA. I come from a mostly white town and have heard that many of my friends have heard this from their parents as they go off to college.
Josh Leake Cullowhee, NC It’s very aggravating to be judged because Im white. I come from a very rural area with a poor background. I have killed myself to support myself and be able to put myself through college.
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 […]
Lindsey Halsey River Falls, WI Sometimes I feel that racism is taken to such extremes that we forget how much everyone struggles and is judged through life. I’m a young, white, middle-class college student who struggles with school, an income, and creating a future. We all struggle throughout life, racism isn’t completely to blame.
Anonymous Plattsburgh, NY I grew up in a rural upstate NY town–hating everything that seemed bigoted or prejudiced. I loathed a lot of the people I knew in adolescence who held tight to old racist values. I went into college with an open mind and an open heart. I don’t know what happened next. Our […]
Ted Willis, Jr. Cary, NC As a teacher, I have seen how, with each passing generation, race is becoming less of an issue with my students. Most of the racial tension is bred from their parents and the time frame most of then grew up in (however, the parents are become the generation in which […]
John Johnson USA This race card comes from the struggles of applying for college scholarships and being white. There are many scholarships designated for different races that I’m not allowed to apply for, yet I don’t see any scholarships designated for people of my race. I’m not at all implying that scholarships for races is […]
Danielle Hayden Detroit, MI My freshman year of college, a boy at orientation (with whom I had only recently become acquainted told me that the only reason I had gotten into the University of Michigan was because of Affirmative Action. This wounded me deeply, and I became obsessed with proving to everyone how intelligent I […]
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.
Brent Beard, Lansing, MI. For a broke college student, I’ve been lucky enough to see more of this world than many people ever will. I’ve discovered in my wanderings that you may meet a Thai bartender who you relate to more than your own relatives. You may have greater difficulties understanding the culture of a […]
Elizabeth S, USA. Is he on the basketball team? Does he play football? I’m white and in an interracial relationship. Whenever someone new sees a picture of us together that’s usually the first thing they ask. No, I’m sorry just because he is tall and black doesn’t mean he can dunk or played sports in […]
M. King Oklahoma City, OK College educated, and my profession, is IT training and consulting. When whites gain that friendly level of comfort, they try and say that my manner of speech, an education, makes me white. Once I posed the question, what made them think that education, intelligence and standard speech are attributes only […]
Kyle Glasper Houghton, MA Everything I feel I learn in sociology is telling me that as a black male, life has doomed me to the pits. A third of us have been incarcerated or will be and the half of the rest won’t ever go to college. It’s been this way for a while now […]
Derek Kendall Cullowhee, NC Why Is it when people see a African American student going to college they automatically assume that he must be here on a to play sports. On the other hand when white people are at college its only because they are smart and their parents have a good amount of money […]
Meghan Morales Seattle, WA Even though I’m mixed race (Latina with Puerto Rican & Dominican heritage & White), my lighter toned skin provides me the privilege to ‘pass’ most days. I’m often mistaken for someone whose sole race is White from those who do not know me. Because of this, it was especially shocking to […]
Susan Tsoglin Seattle, WA At the time, I was a white female college student in a mainly white university. Following the disaster that was the reaction to NineEleven, I became more political. I became involved in protests and rallies, doing educational flash mobs, being “alternative.” I was surrounded by white hippie culture, which had re-appropriated […]
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.
Carissa Brown Los Angeles, CA I am a struggling white college student with no scholarships. Why? Because all the scholarships available seem to be exclusively for first generation Americans, or Hispanics, or African Americans, or anyone but me. It’s not my fault I’m white. Why can’t I get scholarships??? Why can’t there be any scholarships […]
Rayna Delaney Pharr, TX This occurred to me in 1969 as I started college. I was a naïve white girl from a rural all-white neighborhood. Had read a lot about Blacks and their struggles. I was surprised when I sat down next to a group of Blacks and they ignored by attempts to start a […]
Cassandra Krummel Seaford, NY Being a white girl brought up in New York was difficult. I went to school where many of the students were black and to them, I was a spoiled white girl. Coming to college and joining a sorority never helped the situation. Every time I am confronted by a black person, […]
Ashley Smith Davis, CA Even in my Junior year of college, I hear about how my friends took a whole bunch of AP classes and how awesome it was. I barely had stable teachers and Algebra 2 was the highest math offered. In 10th grade, my math class went through 20 teachers in a year. […]
Anonymous Eugene, OR Universities are just little bubbles in a sea of ignorance.
Emily Wood Anchorage, AK Growing up in small town Minnesota where the local summer celebration was “Swedish Heritage Days” could be awkward for a girl with a white dad and a Native mom. My parents raised my brother and I to celebrate the fact that we had two sides to us, that we lived with […]
Lorinda Roberts Carmel, IN For my friend, Rabi, who was born and raised in Africa and is now applying for citizenship, however, cannot describe himself as an African American, according to state college officials.
Ann Marie USA I didn’t understand how much racism still existed in America until I moved to Missouri for college. As a white female, second year college student and only 19 years old, I am absolutely disgusted with the racial slurs I still hear today. Coming from San Diego, I grew up with Latino friends […]
Lisa Johnson, Holden, MO. I am, unfortunately, from very rural America. There was a short period in my life (approximately 1/4 of it) that was lived in larger areas where I got to know various people. My most favorite experiences were the multicultural atmosphere of the Modern Languages and Literatures Department of a college I […]
Bruce H. Weik, Hot Springs, AR. I was attending Northern Illinois University. Everyone on dorm floor applauded. It was on my birthday, April 4, 1968. I packed and left that day.
Anne Lincoln, MA I was asked by Admissions if I would agree to having a black roommate. I said yes, but when she learned of the request (I never knew how), she was angry–at the school, and confusing to me, at me. From that moment on, there was only anger. I was naive and woefully […]
Vanessa Uzoh Dallas, TX My freshman year of college was the first time I actually had to think about how identified myself within my own racial community. I didn’t know how to handle this and other questions that people asked me, but I knew that I definitely wasn’t going to let the opinion of others […]
Jenna Overton Langhome, PA I’m a half-black college student. My friends and I were having a discussion about race one day and a few of the white males in the group (my boyfriend among them) reasoned that they probably couldn’t think about race in the same way minorities do, because to be white is to […]
Sarah Nesbitt Dallas, TX I guess you could call this an epidemic of the current generation. Race is now often viewed as a factor to be manipulated, suppressed, and revealed at convenient times. Students are white as far back as they can remember, but the minute the CommonApp goes online, they feel the ache and […]
Andrea M. Newton, MA I grew up not really ever thinking about my race until my college applications asked me to literally box myself into one race. I always thought I was “white” with my Irish last name, Swedish grandmother, and my other American family. I just also had a mother who took us to […]
Elizabeth Norris Taylor Fernandina Beach, FL I have lived my entire life with people coming up to me and asking, “what are you?” For a while in college, I had some very clever comebacks… now days I simply shrug and say, “American, and you?” I have had people come up to me and speak Spanish […]
Samantha McFadden New York, NY I grew up outside of New York in a city that was definitely more urban than suburban. I spent the majority of my childhood being referred to as “that white girl” by my classmates. As one of a dozen Caucasian people in my graduating class in high school, you would […]
James Eliot Griffith Stillwater, OK It’s irritating how in this day and age if I just tell someone I’m Mexican (which is the side of my family I identify with a bit more since I grew up on the border in South Texas) everyone is perfectly fine and its all cool. But if I happen […]
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 […]
Erika Malinoski Oakland, CA When I was in college, I ran psychology experiments on volunteer college students, and I was always perfectly comfortable running the experiment late at night alone in the building except for the participant. Until I went to do the exact same thing I’d done a hundred times with a Black participant. […]
Andrew Butz Minneapolis, MN I am white, and grew up not thinking or having to think much about race at all. Made a lot of non-white friends at college and learned a lot about race and privilege, including the reality of thinking about race everyday because you have to. White people are the only group […]
Sayeeda Brooklyn, NY On a predominately white college campus in the late 80’s early 90’s I was often the only African Caribbean person in a class. Anytime issues around African Americans, Caribbean people or Africans came up all heads turned, to me as if I were an expert or authority. My classmates didn’t know this […]
Megan Gilson Ann Arbor, MI Understanding Race Project- University of Michigan As a future high school teacher, I believe that race and diversity education should be mandatory component of high school curriculum. College should not be the first time that students study modern racial inequality in depth.
Mitu Yilma Durham, NC Duke University
Dolly Szymanski Fort Wayne, IN Both of these quotes are things my mother heard or said. The second quote – My mother said to me when I wanted to invite some college friends to our home. Some of the friends were persons of color Grosse Pointe, MI in 1959.
Artie Dee Franklin, IN My first real contact with black people was living with some black guys in college. There were restaurants, in the mid 50’s where we were refused service if our black friends were with us.
Webdoyenne, Tampa Bay, FL. (I am a) middle-age white female…but it’s not even an issue for my son…college freshman…who has friends from many ethnic groups and every color of the rainbow.