Francesca Sam-Sin, Katy, TX. “No offense BUT, what are you?” That’s usually how the conversation about my race begins. When I arrived in the U.S. in the 80’s I was really surprised by the emphasis on race. The first time someone asked what “race” I was, it took me a minute to understand exactly what […]
Tatyana Parrish, Valley Stream, NY. My six words are a fairly simple way to explain how complicated this matter is to me. My father was never there, and my mom worked her absolute ass off in order to make up for that. My father is African American, and because of this I’ve come to resent […]
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 […]
Khyrria Tekbali, Washington, DC.
Wes, Boston, MA. I feel like the topic of race has become uncomfortable for many people because we assume the worst of people’s words. A discussion that includes the ethnicity of another person too commonly leads to an argument or someone accused of being a racist when no harm was intended or when a fact […]
Jorge Talamantes, Azusa, CA. Student ’15 I am a Latino man of Mexican and Cuban descent, so when people tell me that I speak Spanish well because I happen to have lighter skin and “can pass as a white boy”, I am offended that they relate skin color to race and ethnicity. My race and […]
Ashley Diaz Mejias, Richmond, VA. I write this as 34 year seminarian and old mom of two girls; my husband is haitian and puerto rican, and I am cuban and white. I am part of a church that, over the past year, has walked through race dialogues in an effort to begin bearing witness to […]
Catherine Vance Agrella, Asheville, NC. I’m white, and by definition am associated with some of the worst perpetrators of racism. But I also come from deep Appalachian Scots-Irish roots and have a clear ethnic identity. I do know what it feels like to be mocked for my speech, or thought of as a dumb hillbilly, […]
Lynette M. Silva, Dallas, TX. My ethnicity apparently changes depending on the immediate environment. I get followed in stores here in Texas, and asked questions like, “Where are your people from?” But when I go to work–I’m a Ph.D.–I am told, “You’re Hispanic? I just don’t see it.”
Adrienne Karyadi, Los Angeles, CA. I think of this as a supermarket check-out line experience: I’m waiting with strangers in some kind of line, and they notice me with my son. My son tries to engage them and they respond. And then they start wondering: what ethnicity is he? because he doesn’t look like he […]
Aaron Yeh, Las Vegas, NV. White mother, Chinese father, I was raised by my mom and don’t speak Chinese. Sometimes I look in the mirror and my Asian features surprise me. It’s startling how I identify more with being ‘white’ than anything else. The “other” box on forms asking my ethnicity has always comforted me, […]
Nicholas Ellis, Somerville, MA. Being referred to as simply “white” strips me of my ethnicity, of which I am very proud. I look Slavic, I am Slavic, why should I be OK with being referred to in any other way? My people were also slaves, in fact the word “Slave” comes from an old French […]
Katie Rotondo, El Segundo, CA. I’ve been learning a lot about race and ethnicity lately. Looking back, it bothers me how many times I was asked what ethnicity I am, responding by saying I am Italian, and getting the famous saying, “But you don’t look Italian!” This is a daily response. Just because I don’t […]
Alix Sotomayor, Boone, NC. I have always felt suspended between two worlds, since my ethnicity is widely varied (like that of most Americans). I am mostly (~70%) white, of Scots-Irish and English descent, but also have a chunk (25%) of Puerto Rican heritage (the missing ~5% comes from smidges of Native American and German ancestry). […]
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 […]
Valerie B. Williams, Jim Thorpe, PA. I was born a WASP but now have a muti-ethnic, multi-racial family. It’s our present and future. Diversity makes us special. Love is all that matters.
Gary Kraemer Phoenix, Metro Area, AZ Two different former friends put up hate speech about people of my wife’s ethnicity on the internet. They were directly confronted, given an opportunity to make it right and choose not to. I broke off both friendships. They actually needed my friendship much more than I needed theirs.
Kay West Jordan, UT I get called Chinese all the time, and I have a lot of Chinese friends, but I am Japanese. Just because I am Asian, does not mean I am Chinese. Just like being Hispanic does not make them all Mexican. Being Caucasian doesn’t mean they are all from England. Every culture […]
Linda Levittown, NY My three children are a mix of English/Irish and Puerto Rican and when you line them up in a row, you can see one mirrors me, the second mirors my husband and our third is a pretty even split down the middle and can “fit” either side of our mixed family. A […]
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.
Annaleisle Gingher Peachtree City, GA Understanding my ethnicity has explained so much and helped me understand who I am. I may be classified in a box as “white” but I am a second generation Sicilian with dark skin and dark hair. I’ve always identified with other races. Only to understand we are all the same […]
Christian Rigby Heber, UT I believe that everybody has the potential to become the person they want to be. We should not let things like our race or ethnicity define our purpose in life. This means two things. First it means that we must make it our job to not judge others biased on their […]
Nikolette Joseph Union City, CA People always ask me what is my ethnicity. I respond saying Fijian and they look at me like what the heck is that. I explain to them that its an small island next to Hawaii. ”Ohhh okay” as they say. The Fiji water , that’s where you come from? So […]
John Q. Kontos Chicago, IL Sometimes, I wish that there were alien cultures that were a potential threat to our existence on earth, then and perhaps only then, would we view ourselves as one people instead of our current hateful and racist thinking. We all need a reminder from time to time that we are […]
Darek Tyson Seattle, WA In a nation of immigrants, color is race.
Xacu Seattle, WA The country we came from views us as bad and wrong. We were conquered, killed, and hated. Laws were made against us, we were disallowed to speak our own language, forced to speak theirs. When I say hunted, I mean there were death squads sent out by the government that took 21,000+ […]
Ashlee Barnes Marina, CA Applications always ask for you ethnicity, but why does it matter ?
Harry Bulkeley Galesburg, IL We don’t pick our race or our ancestors. Mine began coming to this country in 1635. They founded Concord, MA and one was the master mason on Old North Church. Some left the colonies because they were persecuted for being loyal to the king. Some were canal boat captains. One sold […]
Miriam Lennmark Tampa, FL If you want to really look at how race affects us, look at sisters. Sisters with the same biological parents, same home, same everything…except the color of their skin, hair, and eyes. Our lives are so different. She looks Caucasian…I look…well, brown. Most people will tell me I look Latin, but […]
Coco Smith Salem, OR A phenotype is not a race. There is only one human race. What people are calling race, is actually ethnicity. That is a cultural binding construct. It is that diversity that makes the world an interesting place. Without it, none of us would be here.
Alexandra Vogt Crofton, MD Because I was not raised in the Jewish faith, I feel unable to claim my ancestry on my father’s side the way I do with the family history on my mother’s side (Norwegian immigrants.) I wish there were commonly used terms that differentiated Jewish ethnicity from the religion.
Juan Lopez Madison, WI I really didn’t pay much attention to my race until I knew the importance of knowing your background and ethnicity and where you really come from.
Cecile Nguyen Austin, TX Alternative title could also be “I hate the Asian Guessing Game.” I really don’t mind people being curious about my ethnicity. What I do mind is how people go about finding out my ethnicity. “Are you Chinese? Japanese? Korean?…[list goes on]” Believe me, they’ll keep going until I stop them. And […]
Altinay Cortes, Submitted via Twitter: @yanitla1687.
Kate Mack Allentown, PA Overheard when students at the urban district in which I used to teach were contemplating my ethnicity.
Lita Ray Ann Arbor, MI Understanding Race Project- University of Michigan Since people always ask me what my nationality is in order to know my ethnic background it BOTHERS ME LIKE none other.. because my nationality is American. By asking me what my nationality is takes away from my Americanness. So my 6 words are: […]
David Tiffany Iowa City, IA I have trouble wrapping my mind around the concept of race. Like dogs, there are differing “breeds,” but we are all human. All fit in a range of physical and mental traits. But we all bleed, breathe and breed.
Jessica Hong, Philadelphia, PA. As an Asian American, people often ask “what” I am within the first 20 minutes (or sometimes 20 seconds!) of meeting me. Others feel self-conscious about asking but are visibly relieved when/if I happen to mention my ethnicity myself. I think the question of my ethnicity wouldn’t bother me so much […]
Sarah Whitlock Indianapolis, IN It is so frustrating to be around people who are discriminatory. I am tired of having to worry about offending someone because I make a comment that mentions their race or ethnicity. Such a comment is not a problem specifically because it is potentially negative, but because it mentions their race. […]
Yvonne Michigan Black people have really bad stereotypes that’s why I don’t claim black , but I don’t claim Hispanic either, they have there stereo- types as well. Ghetto Hoodlums Mean Scary Constant fights Gang bangs Workers Farmers A lot of kids No husband Poor When people look at me the first thing they see […]