Michelle Martini, USA. When it came time to choose my daughter’s first baby doll, there were only dark-skinned dolls left in the specific brand/style I wanted. Thinking it didn’t matter, I bought it. She has since chosen her own doll — also dark skinned. I’ve gotten a few comments. Most people seem to think we’re […]
Sandra Oldfield, Canada. I’ve gotten used to answering this question about my daughter who is adopted from the US
Adrienne Kern, Keller, TX. My daughter was two weeks from turning one on September 11, 2001. She is one of them. An Arab (pronounced with a Texas drawl: A-Rab). A camel jockey. A rag head. She is Turkish and Saudi and Egyptian. She is not white like me, her mother, who is also mixed race. […]
Brenda Bielke, Submitted via Twitter: @brendabie. @michele_norris, #theracecardproject
Deborah Gonzalez Carmichael, CA My daughter identifies herself as a Jew + Cuban + American. Being a Jew is more than a religion; it is an ethnicity, and per Hitler, a race. And for some reason “Cuban” has its own box to check on the U.S. Census; not Latin American, Caribbean, Hispanic etc. I’m not […]
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 […]
Itoko Richardson, Daly City, CA. I am Japanese and my husband is Black (he extremely dislikes to be called African-American). Our experience alone was interesting and filled with many racist, stereotype encounters and reactions. But my experience with my daughter is interesting. When I and my daughter are out, I can feel strangers’ wonder of […]
Chevelloni El, Newark, DE. My daughter attends a multicultural festival at her school each year where students share their experiences, cultures and history. She wants to tell about our history an cultures but I would be embarrassed to set up a table that says that we are African Americans- Africa is a whole darn continent. […]
Bonnie Jerome-D’Emilia, Haddonfield, NJ. These are my three children. We had never discussed the derogatory use of the word yellow to connote Asian, until we were forced to. My daughter was shocked.
Allison A, Yakima, WA. Sometimes it’s nanny, sometimes it’s babysitter or neighbor, but being asked if I was their grandmother was a first for me. At times, the question is about adoption . . . “Where did you get her?” The questions come from complete strangers, usually white people. The need to figure out this […]
Tracy Hart, Washington, DC. Yes, I’m from a tobacco-pickin, Southern white trash family, and I mean that in the most endearing way. Some stereotypes my family breaks: we were Southern but poor sharecroppers rather than slave-owners. Other stereotypes my family embraces: using discriminatory language in equal measure across all those who are not white Southerners. […]
Kristen Moorhead, Silver Spring, MD. I’ve always told my son, “You can be anything you want to be.” Before Shani Davis’ won gold, POTUS was elected – prior to Neil deGrasse Tyson gracing our screen in Cosmos. What was once – is still – momentous to me is his normal: ‘I like ice skating, why […]
Michele, Leesburg, VA. This was one of the nicer things said to my daughter at her church-ran private school, where she was the only white kid in her class. The girls would actually tell her that they couldn’t play with her because of her skin color. She asked, with tears in her eyes, why she […]
Linda Kristensen, Grand Rapids, MI. I am writing this for my daughter who is 34 with Autism. She became my daughter in 1980 when I was living in Norway. We returned to the USA in 1983 but my daughter even after 30 years is still not an American citizen. Here’s part of her story…. My […]
Jeremy Martin, Cincinnati, OH. My 7-year-old daughter about the only African American girl on her cheer team. How do we move past skin color as an identity, even for children?
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 […]
Tina C. Ozturk, Washington, DC. You can’t imagine how many times people of all races exclaim my daughters cuteness while questioning my motherhood. I try not to take it personally, but I do find it rude and disrespectful to risk hurting a parent’s feelings just because you are curious. What’s the point?
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, […]
Anonymous, Seattle, WA. My five-month-old Ameri-Kenyan daughter and I were part of a group of 300 Americans with the National Parks Service who commemorated the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights March. For five days, we marched from Selma to Montgomery. She rode just over my heart, clapping and singing as we went.
Jessica McMurtry, Collins, GA. I am white, yes, but it makes me very bitter when other white people refuse to see how being another “race” could affect their life. Empathy is not the same as not being prideful of your heritage. My ancestors were Irish, Scottish, and Native American- and I am supremely proud of […]
Brian Parra, Oxnard, CA. Without fail, the first thing a person remarks on, upon seeing my kids, is that they are blonde and I am not. I’ve gotten used to odd looks and the consistent recitation of a poor understanding of genetics, “Mom must have some strong genes!” Some have literally questioned whether they are […]
Pamela Torres, West Palm Beach, FL. CubanAmerican daughter often teased for being light skin. It hurts.
Shellee Perez, San Jose, CA. I unfortunately found that people have certain stereotypes of what it means to be Black inculcated in their minds and apparently the tone and features of my own child do not fit their bias. As a result, people would rather view my relationship with my daughter as servitude for a […]
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 […]
Cynthia Moreno, San Jose, CA. Since my daughter’s birth I have been asked why she has blue eyes! I was constantly asked if I was her nanny until she was able to say “mommy”. The most common question, “But how did she get blue eyes?” Do I really need to explain my genetic background to […]
Yael Silverberg Urian, Montclair, NJ.
Kelly M., Indonesia. My six words were spoken by my daughter when she was seven years old. I am From Texas, my family tree consists of Irish and English immigrants and Cherokee Native Americans. We generally look Caucasian, but all five siblings have slightly different skintones. I now live in Indonesia, I’m a single Mom […]
Jane Medina Orange, CA My daughter Annie had just turned 21. So she, my husband, my son, and I put on our cocktail party clothes and went to the fanciest restaurant in Orange, California to buy Annie her first drink. As our car climbed the steep hill where the restaurant sat like a crown above […]
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 […]
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. […]
Rebecca Schwarzlose, Roayl Oak, MI. I am white and my husband is Indian. My daughter has my husband’s complexion. When we are together as a family people assume that she’s mixed but when I’m out with my daughter alone (which is most of the time) everyone assumes that she’s adopted. People ask me where she’s […]
Ashley S. Westerman, Submitted via twitter: @AS_Westerman. @michele_norris #TheRaceCardProject
Wendy Wetzel Submitted via Twitter I’m white; she’s black. How do I help her through so much new to me?
Silagh White Bethlehem, PA
Daphne Revie, Compound, NY. Taking my daughter as a baby to libraries and play groups only nannies would talk to me assuming I too was a nanny because I have dark skin and my daughter is very light. The moms generally didn’t speak to me at all.
Christine Alexander, Spring Valley, CA.
Raenette White, Moreno Valley, CA. Shout out to California Baptist University.
Allison M, Philadelphia, PA.
Karen Button, Middletown, CT. Phone call from the neighborhood grocer – followed by my husband on the line asking me to come down to the corner store to verify that he was in fact the father of our bi-racial infant daughter since they were used to seeing me with her and were refusing to let […]
Arturo Carrero, The Netherlands.
Janai Leeb, Val Verde, CA. My 5 year old, bi-racial daughter is just discovering that her family may be a little different. I’m a black American and my husband is Austrian. From her perspective, I look like the odd man out in our four person family.
Debra Cope, Alexandria, VA. Adoption is beautiful, and I really don’t mind helping others navigate the awkward preconceptions that accompany it. But this phrase just burns me because it equates my spunky, lively child with an object . She’s not my toy — she’s my daughter!
William Kincaid, St. Louis, MO. I use some literary license in choosing the word “daughter”. She is actually the great-great-granddaughter of one of my family’s former slaves, if you want to get technical about it. But a six word statement is no place to get technical. Regardless there are not enough words to express how […]
Malika Los Angeles, CA Our daughter began to draw what she saw in the world very early. She wakes up from vivid dreams, grabs a sheet of paper and illustrates the thunder and lightning, fairies and wizards, monsters and princesses from her nighttime imagination. Having grown up in America as a woman of African ancestry, […]
Achilles C., Saint Paul, MN. I am a young African American single father, working hard to make sure my two daughters understand and value their own beauty, in the face of constant imagery and media messages that would suggest otherwise – my oldest was 3 the first time she wanted her hair straight like some […]
Suzanne Strathman Alma, MO How many times have I been asked if Marquita is my “real daughter”. My thought is “She looks pretty real to me.”. Marquita is African American and we are white. We adopted her when she was 4 years old.
Irene Eggers Wheat Ridge, CO The baby’s light older siblings adore her.
Naghmeh Moshtael Portland, OR These are my daughter’s words. We live in a world of different race, culture and heritage. My husband in African American, born in Seattle and raised in Compton, CA. I am originally from Iran, raised in Cameroon (Central Africa) and now living in the US. My daughter is adopted from Ethiopia. […]
Alexis S Atlanta, GA As we stepped on to the elevator accompanying a father and his two girls. She said “Look daddy black people”, and he turned redder than a ripe tomato and said, “That’s right honey, yellow, tan, gold, and brown people.” It was shocking to my family in hers, the fact that she […]
Anne Hickling Phoenix, AZ I don’t know how to answer this when she asks. The answer is both “Yes” and “No.” Her Cuban grandparents self-identify as white, but here in the SW borderlands, she likely is seen by many as one of those “brown” people, you know, the ones who crossed the border legally or […]
Carla Los Angeles, CA This comment is what I often heard from many people, including my own regarding my daughter from birth until about 8 years of age. I believe people actually thought they were complimenting her and maybe even me….someone who is for the most part unmistakably of African ancestry. Sometimes I would take […]
Sonali Miller Portland, OR
Dawn E Josiah Landis, NC My daughter is Hawaiian American. I’m the white part of her, her dad is the Hawaiian part of her. After 25 years of marriage, he pushes us out of his life and returns to his roots. I’m the one that deals with the anger and pain from my daughter because […]
Traci Butler USA I’m a Caucasian mother of a beautiful, amazing little girl who happens to be of mixed heritage, because her father is from Africa. I have a difficult time when it comes to school forms or paperwork for doctor’s offices, because they don’t give you a box for “mixed ethnicity” or a space […]
Morgan Cooper, Stockton, CA. In 2007, when my ex husband and I were expecting our baby girl, we jokingly called her “Blackanese”, a term I still use endearingly. Most simply put, I am half Black and half White and my ex husband is half Japanese and half White. Never in our wildest dreams did we […]
Barbara Schmidt Metuchen, NJ We are a caucasian couple that adopted our daughter from Southeast Asia. Random people in the supermarket make dumb comments and children have asked where is her real mom. We must carry her adoption paperwork when we travel internationally, since passport control sometimes questions whether she is really our daughter. School […]
Lora Fraracci Des Moines, IA Drake University My beautiful daughter.
Dania Abreu-Torres San Antonio, TX My husband and I are Puerto Ricans. I am more “white” than he is -He usually was mistaken as a muslim-. We have a blonde, blue eyed girl. In Florida, he use to take her to the supermarket. He was followed by a lady and asked if the baby was […]
Marc A Quarles, Pacific Grove, CA. Pacific Grove, I’m African-American my wife is German we have two children a son 15 and a daughter 13. We live in a predominately white affluent area on the Monterey Peninsula in California. Every summer my wife and children go to Germany to visit her parents and other […]
Kristen Green Richmond, VA My five-year-old multiracial daughter said these words while sitting on my lap today while we were both in bathing suits by the pool and she was comparing the color of our arms and legs. My answer, another race card: You’re a mix of mom and dad.
Vickie Diemer San Diego, CA ‘Overheard” at 14 years old…. radiating through the entire house.
Tracey Frierson North Ridgeville, OH Version 2: biracial anxiety; black/white; neither/both! I have two adult biracial daughters, three years apart, raised in the same home under similar circumstances- one for whom racial identity has been problematic, the other who identifies herself as Black and has always seemed to adjust positively to that aspect of her […]
Jeff Lewis Vienna, VA A few years ago my oldest daughter, now eight years old, described the skin color of my wife, me, herself and her younger sister in terms of ice cream flavors.
Katherine Howard Venice, CA A three year old shouted this at my daughter when I came to pick her up from a play area. The child said this with a tone and with a look that I was shocked to see from a child so young. I am used to and prepared for this from […]
Nicole Minneapolis, MN As a descendant of Germans and Scandinavians, I am termed WHITE. My daughter is is a strawberry blonde with creamy white skin and blue eyes. Again and again I have been asked how it was possible when her father is an African American. I have heard, “he can’t actually be her father” […]
Louis Moore Anchorage, AK
KT Holbrook-Yanit Eugene, OR What my white father asked because I dated young men of several ethnicities. I have to admit I was sad but relieved when he passed away the year before I married my non-white husband. Now I feel he would have grown up had he gotten the chance to meet his beautiful […]
Jessica Goldhirsch Arlington, MA
Padmaja Ganeshan Singh Seattle, WA Growing up here, in the US, my daughter’s definition of a princess, is a blonde, white young girl wearing a gown, tights and a tiara. The dress is mostly pink. DD now wears pink dresses, tights and is more or less always in a Tiara. She knows fair is only […]
Hilary Roberts-King Baltimore, MD Children’s books and Sesame Street make multi-cultural living look so easy. Of course I want my daughters to be proud of their beautiful biracial hair. Of course I genuinely admire my daughters’ beautiful curls. But it is so much more complex than that. It’s not just hair.
Peter Chin Washington, DC That was the question that my daughter asked me when our house was broken into a second time in three years. As a Korean-American living and working in a predominantly African-American neighborhood, I was tempted to answer her question by telling her about the long-standing hostilities between the two groups. But […]
Eric Brooklyn, NY I gave my daughter a calendar of notable African-Americans for Black history month. She thumbed through the pages and then announced “hey you know who’s missing from this calendar, Britney Spears”. I told her Britney Spears is not in the calendar because she’s not African American, to which she replied “she’s not?”. […]
Stephanie K. New York City, NY I’m a first generation daughter in the U.S. My parents are Chinese immigrants. They just don’t get it.
Danelle Hoffer Cabot, AR Michele, thank you for this amazing project! I am the incredibly proud white mother of a 16 year old mixed race daughter who is accomplished, bright and has the warmest heart of anyone I’ve ever known. My husband is white and we married when she was 4. He adopted our daughter […]
Thais Machado Teixeira Brazil My mom is black. My dad is white. I am not fair skinned enough to be white or dark enough to be black. Still, people believe that I’m my father’s daughter, but when I show them my mom I have to explain she married a white man so they can believe […]
Malie Carvalho Hilo, HI This is what my daughter says to me…she looks like her other parent, not all of our races are the same.
Michele Kacmarcik Savin Wilmington, DE When I listened to the report on Wednesday I ached for my daughter… whose birth mother, my husbands first wife, was adopted from Korea. She was teased on the bus as a first grader, and told to go back where she came from… which was Wilmington Delaware! I never imagined […]
Carol Sacks, Santa Barbara, CA. My nine-year-old daughter, who is adopted from China, is reading a biography of Muhammad Ali for a book club project. Last night, she asked me what the word r-a-c-i-s-m meant. Her question, this birther nonsense, are reminders that race continues to be part of our national conversation.
Kristina K. Albuquerque, NM Perhaps it takes a directly personal experience to be willing to see white privilege. We are a mixed-race family. My husband and I are white and watching our adopted Chinese daughter understand what it means (to her; to the world around her) to be different–not white/euro/caucasian like her parents, like most […]
Dina Stonberg Philadelphia, PA I have had the privilege to not have to think about race most of my life. Fell in love with a wonderful, kind, caring African American man – formed our family through adoption and now have the privilege of raising a beautiful, smart African American daughter. She is a joy every […]
Patrick S. Perkins ID Submitted via: NPR’s Talk of the Nation This is an interesting program and it made me recall an experience with my 4 year old in a grocery store. There was a man of east Indian descent in line behind us and my daughter kept looking at him and looking back at […]
Mary Palmer Manahawkin, NJ I am a white woman married to a white man. We are the parents of two biological sons and one adopted bi-racial daughter, all of them grown.
Anonymous Submitted via: NPR’s Talk of the Nation
Courtney M Oklahoma City, OK I’m white. I was raised in a military family that traveled everywhere and was taught to love what makes us different. Then I had children with a man who isn’t white. Now, race has taken on a whole new meaning. Explaining race issues to them is painful…for so many reasons.