tracy-at-Lamont

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. [...]

Lynda_DC-Street

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 [...]

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 [...]

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, [...]

“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 [...]

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 [...]

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 [...]

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 [...]

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 [...]

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 [...]

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 [...]

You talk like a white boy

Joseph Washington, DC from an essay I wrote in 2008: IN 1980, THE year I ran for president, the country was mired in inflation, the malaise of the Carter administration was about to be overtaken by Ronald Reagan’s Morning in America, and like a lot of the country, Ooltewah High School was swept up in [...]

Where Are You From? No Answers.

Charley Sullivan Ann Arbor, MI Understanding Race Project- University of Michigan It was 1976. I was 12, and just moved back to the DC suburbs from growing up in Southeast Asia and West Africa. The first question to me in 7th grade English class was “Did you see Tarzan?” This is how much my new [...]