“Are they yours? Are you sure?”

Adam Conner Washington, DC My sister and I are both adopted from South Korea. Our parents are white. One of my memories from childhood is being at the grocery store and constantly having people ask my mom “Are they yours?” point to my sister and me. I remember one time someone then adding “Are you […]

Some of my best friends are….

Steven Shimberg Washington, DC I envy our kids who seem to be colorblind and take diversity for granted. Having grown up in the 50’s and 60’s, I regret that my ability to understand fully, appreciate and relate to some of my friends’ life experiences is limited. Divides based on socio-economics are significant but divides based […]

I am white but not racist.

Stephanie DeRoose, Baltimore, MD. During a service trip to Washington DC, I encountered many nice and talkative people while I walked the streets. I made a comment to another volunteer and her response was, “It’s because they’re black isn’t it?” I had never experienced such rude commentary and didn’t know what to say. My comment […]

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Which category do I belong to?

Patrilie Hernandez, Washington, DC. When you look at me, what race do you see? Do you see my dark skinned grandparents, whose African relatives escaped from the Dutch slave trade? Do you see my last name, which reflects my “Latina” heritage, or do you see a brunette “white” girl, after hearing the way I speak […]

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Wearing your difference on the outside.

Mona Khadr, Washington, DC. “But where are you from, originally?” is a question I get a lot. When I was younger, I answered proudly (“Egyptian!”) because my heritage was something that made me unique from my mostly white-American peers in the suburbs of MD and PA. As I got older and entered high school, college, […]

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Why Not Put My Needs First?

Faith Dow, Washington, DC. Black women are the benchmark and template for every viable social reform from the past 50 years that others use to advance their own agendas – often at our expense. We deserve respect and reciprocity.

Progress? We’ve been running in place.

Christina H. Washinton, DC Too often this summer (2014), I’ve felt like we’re reliving the events and emotions of ’65, ’68, and ’69. I cannot believe we still have to protest the killings of unarmed black people. Progress on race? Some days it feels like this nation has just been running in place.

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Why the wink and the gun?

Mark Overmann, Washington, DC. I grew up in a mostly white suburb north of Cincinnati, Ohio. My grade school was not diverse. I remember one black classmate in my year – we played baseball and basketball together – and one girl of Asian descent, but that’s about it. My high school was more diverse, but […]

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For Me, Racism Started at Home

Sarah S., Washington, DC. My Puerto Rican grandmother used to call me “muchacha fea,” while calling my dark-haired, dark-eyed, darker-skinned, curly-haired sisters, “muchacha linda.” That woman treated me like Cinderella. When we were kids, one of my sisters took my grandmother’s cues, and decided to torment me by saying that I was adopted (I wasn’t), […]

I was mugged by a “victim”

Jonathan Osmundsen, Washington, DC. I appreciate some of the coverage that’s focused on the Baltimore riots, and issues that influenced an explosion of pent up anger. That frustration is valid, those wrongs must be corrected. Here’s the “but”… I’ve not heard one NPR story that mentioned the burning of a 60-unit building by rioters, which […]

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I stand my ground for justice

Lynda Tredway Washington, DC I have about 10,000 words to say about race in America, how we are all affected by it every day — in individual and structural ways. I sometimes remember Cornell West’s words: We are all on the Henrietta Marie (the slave ship sunk off the coast of Florida). We are all […]

Is that your family? They’re white.

Gaby Segalla, Washington, DC. I’ve been adopted…twice. I was raised in a diverse community and I attend Georgetown Day School which is a very accepting school. I’m Vietnamese but I’ve been raised in America by a white family. When I am with my family and a friend who is white to other people I’m the […]

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“But you have blue eyes!” So?

Stephanie Diane Scott-Melnyk, Washington, DC. My father is a light-skinned black man. My mother is an extremely fair white woman. For at least the 40 years I can remember, I have felt required to fight for the recognition of my black heritage. My race card is a statement made to me at least once a […]

Guilt. I loved my Annie so.

Lisa VonTress Las, Sunrise, FL. As a child growing up in the DC suburbs, I had no idea about what was going on. I had Annie, who was with my family 6 years before I was born until I was 13 when my father moved us. I came back to her later as she worked […]

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Not “bi-racial”, not “mixed”, just human!

Tyler Brown, Washington, DC. As an African American and Irish American man ppl have referred to me as biracial or mixed for most of my life…both terms uncover misunderstandings about race and what makes a person. One being can’t be two races at the same time, neither can they be mixed like cake batter in […]

Straight White Males, press blames us.

Joe, Washington, DC. Don’t believe the hype. The press baits everyone. Stirring the pot gets more clicks which makes money. The pols benefit from a nation divided too. Realize the vast majority of America is somewhere in the middle of these extremes.

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Define my integrity, not my identity.

Erin Powell, Washington, DC. “Are you sure your dad is really black?” “If you imagine her with curly hair, you can tell she’s mixed.” “You look straight white, nothing else.” “Ugly half n*****.” Just a taste of the both disparaging and conflicting comments I’ve received on my YouTube vlog about my personal experience being biracial. […]

only white people say they are color-blind

Anonymous, Washington, DC. I am White and i hate to hear other White people say they are color blind or that we’re all the “human race.” by saying we are color blind, we are pretending racism is over and make other’s struggles seem illegitimate. To me, this seems like it adds insult to injury.

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Will you have an arranged marriage?

Krishna Ghodiwala, Washington, DC. I am an Indian American woman who was born in Canada, immigrated to the US at the age of 3, and went on to receive an excellent education that has helped me pursue a successful career in US politics and issue advocacy. My Indian heritage is a big part of my […]

My shopping bags don’t get checked.

Ashley Cooper Hair, Washington,DC. Georgetown Day School In the town where I went to high school, the privilege I felt was one of class. There were almost no people of color. Living in Washington, DC, I feel my white privilege constantly. Not only am I not followed around Best Buy, my shopping bags are never […]

Why ask, when leaves glisten gold.

Lauralee Coady, Washington, DC. Georgetown Day School In the gym, step forward if you are white, back if you are black. A diversity lesson, well intended. Alas, one best friend forward, the other back. In public. One raged for the other who took it in stride.

I pass, but I can understand.

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 […]

I’m not his white trophy wife

Moyo Myers, Washington, DC. In that split second when someone (of any race or ethnic origin) sees me (White) standing with my husband (African-American), they decide so much about the quality, depth, and reasons for our relationship. And that shows, in the expression on their face and in the way that they interact with us.

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She is so cute!! Your daughter?

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?

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Two white dads. Three black kids.

Jack Montgomery, Washington, DC. My husband and I got married and adopted three beautiful children on the same day last summer. Happy times! I have learned more since these kids have arrived than I ever new possible. A same-sex parent family with trans racial kids draws a lot of attention both in the big city […]

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Yes I’m tobacco-pickin white trash

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. […]

Think you cute because you’re lightskin?

Kwazi Owens Washington, DC I see so much divisiveness among black women due to colorism. I remember growing up and girls automatically not liking me just because of my complexion and me feeling the need to reel in my personality as not seem as though I’m trying to be “better” than others. As an adult […]

Now, I can protest that murder

David C. Ruffin Washington, DC I participated in the March on Washington in 1963. I was 18 and home on leave from the Air Force. My most enduring memory of the March was a conversation I had with an older man on the train ride from Pittsburgh to Washington the night before. He told me […]

What does Puerto Rican look like?

Janet Jimenez Washington, DC Puertorriqueño(a) is the “proper” term used to address a native islander from Puerto Rico. Do not confuse with Newyoricans, or anyone else born outside the island to Puertorriqueño parents. A real Puertorriqueño(a) knows the words to “La Borinqueña”, speaks Spanish (FLUENTLY), has lived on the island, and cries to the words […]

Doubling Down on the Race Card

Cheryl Head Washington, DC President Barack Obama has too much grace or perhaps it is too much political presence to play the race card. So, I’m going to play it for him and raise the ante. From the “you lie” shout during the State of the Union Address to the terrible debacle of legislative gridlock, […]

Separate but equal was the goal.

Glennette Clark Washington DC Integration did a great disservice to black people in that we thought that we achieved a dream that turned out to be a nightmare. Teachers stopped caring about students and students stopped caring about achieving. Instead, we became “affirmative action’ed” because we lowered our expectations of ourselves along with everyone else. […]

Mind wide, self-education comes free

Edward Darden Washington, DC Every American black person, who succeeds is and was self-educated to a great extent, at least in the beginning. When children are young, the chains around their minds and bodies are able to be broken with a Will to reach farther than what is in front of them. In this way, […]

I’m Asian. Don’t assume I’m Chinese.

Gaby Segalla Washington, DC Most people see me and assume I’m Chinese. As an adopted Asian girl most people think “Oh that girl is probably Chinese.” I don’t take offense to that mostly because I have become used to being asked I’m Chinese. I’ve gotten used to people asking me where I am from and […]

“The only Mexicans I’ve ever met ..”

Josie Villanueva Washington, DC “… pick our melons on my Daddy’s farm.” she said to me, with wide eyes, on one of the first days at Hoosier Girls State. I was one of the very few Latinas in the program, a delegate chosen for my academic excellence and leadership at my high school. I think […]

“How we get along in Washington, D.C.!”

Isabel “Scottie” Dalsimer Alexandria, VA It was a bright and sunny day in August 1963. I was 25 years old and just back from a two year assignment in West Africa. My household effects were arriving at my Washington apartment that afternoon, but I had time to go to the March on Washington beforehand. I […]

Sunday Church, Saturday Sabbath, Friday Work.

Sadaf Qureshi Washington, DC Weekends in the United States make worship on the holy days of Christianity and Judaism convenient. The holy day for Muslims is Friday, a regular working day. In some ways, this reflects the way in which the architecture of a society is built around considerations for those in the mainstream or […]

My son won’t be a victim.

Jevon Heyliger Washington, DC My son is 2 years old and I refuse to believe he’ll grow up on a world full of George Zimmermans. I refuse to believe that being a black male will be an albatross around his neck. I have to believe this. His generation has to be better than us.

Pass black man, compulsively say hi.

LSSteph Washington, DC I’m a white woman, ever since I read this article back in college by a black man discussing his revelation that he always instinctively looks down or away when encountering a white women because he didn’t want her to be afraid of him and how he no longer does that, I say […]

Called racist for not serving someone…

Ethan Pickering Washington, DC …a drink. Because he stumbled into the bar hammered. But he was Salvadoran and I am white. Nevermind that I was speaking to him in Spanish (NOT my first language). Nevermind that I was conversing with other Spanish speakers who were drinking–some who were drunk–at the bar. Nevermind that nobody else […]

Does “The Talk” include crime statistics?

Peter Gwynn Washington, DC Police and everybody else, despite any amount of training and good intentions, are still just people and will be influenced by patterns around them. I live in northeast Washington, DC. I don’t know how likely it is that I or a member of my family will be beaten, robbed, killed or […]

Angry white men are the deadliest.

G. Thompson Washington, DC From the historical raping and pillaging of peaceful countries to still being the #1 profile of serial killers and perpetrators of school shootings, there remains one group worthy of fearing.

Not Guilty: no respite to Zimmermans

Patty Reed Greenville, SC Where do they go from here? The only answer that could have brought peace is Guilty. Justice may have been served, but justice doesn’t bring peace. Justice only brings justice. It doesn’t seem to matter what the verdict was, they’ll never have a life again; there is no “returning to our […]

I’m not white in my family

Lisa Craig Washington, DC It’s a bit complicated. My father’s family consists of Scottish, Swedish, French, German, English, Mexican, and two different Native American tribes. My mother’s family consists of French-Canadian, English, Inquit (Alaskan Native Americans), and some other ethnicities that I am not aware of (I am not close to them). All of my […]

Please! Ask before touching my hair.

Tiffanie Luckett Washington, DC I have had men and women approach me on public transit, in the streets of Washington, in restaurants and grocery checkouts, in nearly every domain of my life, and touch my hair without my consent. As a black woman with long curly hair, I feel like somehow people think my hair […]

You’re too black and too ugly.

Karen Hill Washington, DC Those words were spoken by the first boy I ever had a crush on. I was 12 and had asked my best friend to find out if he liked me. She called him and while I listened in on the other line asked what he thought. He hesitated and then with […]

You’re black? You don’t sound black.

Marianne Scott Washington, DC At least strangers no longer blurt out “no, you aren’t black,” as they did for years. My skin is lighter than most whites and quite freckled. My curls are “good” – large ringlets. Instead, people reveal their own stereotypes when they tell me I don’t talk black. As if there was […]

“You’re sister’s Black? Are you joking?”

Ana Mendelson USA No, I’m not joking. Some other questions I have been asked about my older sister: “Where is she from? Africa?” No, DC. “Is she Jewish?” Well, we adopted her when she was 11, so no. “When did you find out she was adopted?” Um…I guess I just always knew…

Looks white. Sounds black. Fooled ya.

Diana Veiga Washington, DC This weekend I was at an event with a roomful of black women. There was this one lady who stood out because she looked “white”, but then she opened her mouth and she sounded “black.”. And then her mother stood up and she was black. I looked at my mom and […]

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EMBRACE the skin you LIVE in!!

Ashley Bellamy, Washington, DC. Growing up, I tried so hard to supress my skin, my heritage…it was crippling as a child. It wasn’t until college years that I began to feel comfortable and prideful in being a Black/African American Woman who yes, EMBRACES HER Wild and Free AFRO!! As a teacher, I STRESS to my […]

Passed over, wrong color. I’m white.

Steve Townsend Washington, DC In the 1990s, the US Army was under pressure to normalize promotion rates, especially in “under-represented” branches. I was in the Infantry, which had significantly fewer minorities, especially in leadership positions. When a prime position opened, I was the most senior and best qualified for the position. However, the commander approached […]

Why do people steal from us?

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 […]

Uppity white mother, shut your mouth

Kristen Hartke Washington, DC I have been a DC public school parent for 14 years, and my daughter is about to graduate from high school. She has always attended schools that were at least 80% African-American with about 30% of the students in the free lunch program. I have been a longtime volunteer, working particularly […]

Ashamed by white bread and atrocities.

Devin Day Washington, DC As a straight, white, twenty-something man, I am imminently aware of my privileges, given randomly due to my genetic make-up alone. But with a full heart and an excess of empathy growing up, it always bothered me when people around me were discriminated against or treated differently just because of something […]

I really wish it didn’t matter.

Radhika Washington, DC I wish race wasn’t a factor that divided us as Americans or as human beings. Unfortunately, that is not the world we live in. I wish I didn’t have to think about it, but as a woman of color, I am often forced to confront race and racism.