Jan Spooner, Tucson, AZ. As a white American, I don’t have a strong feeling of culture. My African American, Jewish, Native American and Hispanic friends can all talk about a strong cultural background. Their stories reflect their heritage and what it means to belong to their ethnic group. What is my culture and what are [...]
Paul Kuck, Portland, OR. I could talk about this all day. Race, ethnicity, and ancestry fascinate me. The question of who I am has been with me since I can remember. When I was little, we lived near the reservation in South Dakota, and everyone thought I was Native. My sister who is pale, blue [...]
Lee Stringer Mamaroneck, NY I was born into a place and era in which the aspiration was to assimilate. Of course, once I got a good handle on doing this, it was The Sixties and everything changed. The new order of things was to wear your ethnicity on your sleeve. So there I was, Sidney [...]
Rose McKenney Lakewood, WA I’m glad we’re finally acknowledging the number of multi-ethnic people in the US. Sadly people my age (50s) have been asked to choose one; yet I know several multi-ethnic people around my age. They lost a lot because they or their parents felt the need to choose one tradition or ethnicity.
Alexis Beauford Normal, IL 2 years ago I decided to go natural. A lot of non-ethnic people don’t know what that means. When an African American woman gets a perm, it’s to make her hair straight and more manageable which is the opposite of when some other ethnicities get a perm. When someone decides to [...]
Sahra Hassan Minneapolis, MN This was said to me by a hair stylist the minute I walked into a salon. Ironically, my hair was cover so she couldn’t tell what my hair type was but she assumed this based on my skin color. Unconscious actions like these can lead to structural racism in our society.
Jane Smith Hanford, CA Wheeling my infant son in his stroller through the local farmer’s market one Summer morning 23 years ago, this is the most puzzling comment I received as a woman leaned over his stroller. I only saw both sides of his wonderful heritage reflected in his features.
S.W. Spokane Falls Community College Spokane, WA
Ana Byers Ashland, OR It is tiresome, rude and de-humanizing to be stopped by strangers so they can guess “where I am from.” It is even more tiresome to be told that my answer is unacceptable and must be a lie when I reply I am from Washington state.
Andrea Jill Berman Rochester, NY Grew up working class Jewish in buffalo NY. a very ethnic city. No melting pot there. people kept their ethnic identities. I was always welcome in my friends homes. my brother’s best friend in the 1970s was black. Very unusual. my parents did anti defamation and voting rights activism, so [...]
Melissa Bowie, MD It wasn’t until I moved to the DMV (the Washington DC metro area, for the uninitiated), that I began to chafe under assumed ethnic identities. I have great examples: waiting for the metro and a metro employee sings the “Mexican Hat Dance” behind me; taking my (blonde) kids to the park and [...]
LaShunda B. Smith Pike Road, AL Even though i am an educated black woman, my name often times precedes me. It makes it difficult to compete but I continue to move forward. Soon to be “Dr. Smith”.
Quinta Thompson Lafayette, LA I hate that my friends who are biracial, usually nonblack, like to be ethnic when it is convenient and white when that works better.
Jordan Bo Delaware, USA My experiences living in foreign countries have given me a unique worldview, yet those experiences as well as my mixed ethnic background have allowed me no culture to call my own.
Jaime F. Galdamez Madera, CA It’s not plain to see out in the open, but those of us of different color and ethnic back grounds, those of us way below middle income, those of us who’ve been discriminated against, and stereotyped can see and feel the racial tension and classism coming from the right. We [...]
Laura Mariko Cheifetz Atlanta, GA I call myself hapa yonsei. I’m biracial white Jewish and Japanese American, fourth generation on both sides. However, there are two assumptions that I run into all the time. First, “what are you?” People want to know my ethnic background (not racial… that doesn’t satisfy their intrusive curiosity), but they [...]
Kaniela Kelekolio Captain Cook, HI The legacy of slavery and, for much of history, the demographics of the USA have led to ‘white vs black’ being the central racial discussion. But as America grows more diverse and East and South Asian, Pacific Islander, Hispanic communities and white and black ethnic subgroups flourish, they challenge a [...]
Chris Matthews Washington D.C.