Patricia Hughes, Lake Arrowhead, CA. My father’s father took the long route of immigration from Greece during the political upheavals occurring in the early part of the 20th century, and later sent for his family. My father and some of his siblings were born in America. Growing up extremely poor in Denver, Colorado, my father […]
Derrick Warren, Baltimore, MD. I remember my father talking to me about his college days in Missouri. There was this fraternity on campus that would require their prospective pledges to pass what was said to be a brown bag test. Essentially, if you were darker than the brown bag, you could not get into the […]
Anonymous, Omaha, NE. My mother is black and father who I never knew was latino. When I was 3 my mother met and married a white man fresh off the boat from Europe. Together they had a daughter,my baby sister. I only ever knew this man as any sort of father figure and because I […]
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 […]
Debra Taylor, Bolton, MO. Fourteen years ago I married a black man. My father told me my child and grandchild did not exist because I was dead to him.
Rocio Tapia, Forest Park, GA. Being from Mexico, I do not have any sense of race. I know what I am and do not identify with any of the categories listed when I am asked about my race or ethnicity, so I often leave it blank or choose “Other” if I am pressed to select […]
Christopher A Hernández, Corpus Christi, TX. Growing up on the Gulf Coast of Texas, you can always smell the sea; after all: it’s practically in your backyard. But there’s also something else that is constantly in the air that one may not be able to smell, but it’s just as pungent: Stereotypes. I come from […]
Amanda Baran, Arlington, VA. “No, I’m not Mexican. Nope, not Latino. I’m an American who’s half Syrian and half Indian. Well actually, my father’s former nationality was Syrian. His parents were refugees from Turkey who were expelled during the Armenian genocide. No, they weren’t Armenian, they were Christians who were forced out and into Syria […]
Tanya, Manakin Sabot, VA. My (adopted) son is biracial, his bio-father is unknown. I will never be able to connect him with his biological African American family. There is a void that I will never be able to fill for him . This breaks my heart as his mama.
Emily, Philadelphia, PA. I am a white American. My family is here because the Turkish government was committing genocide against Anatolian Greeks in the early 1920s. My grandmother lost her family and came to NY, and when Smyrna was burned she had no home to go back to. The confederacy does not serve my family. […]
Jessica Goldhirsch Arlington, MA
Akira Uchimura, Outside USA. I was born in Costa Rica, raised in Paraguay, Ecuador, Bolivia, El Salvador, Suriname, Japan and Chile (3 to 4 years in each country). I didn’t notice any difference between my friends and I until the “So where are you from” “Do you have a foreign name too?” and “Where did […]
Ezra Rosser Washington, DC Biligaana is a Navajo/Dine word that means “white, other, or the enemy.” I grew up in part on the Navajo Nation where my non-Indian parents worked and where my father still lives.
Melissa Weir, Trout Valley, IL. We like to think that we are like every other family, whatever that means. But questions like “are those your real kids” or “what happened to their real parents” make that impossible. Nonetheless we are a close, joyful, and fortunate family.
Sezin Koehler Submitted via Twitter: @SezinKoehler How many times I’ve heard this in my life. As a child very often when visiting the US (my dad is Sri Lankan). Occasionally still even now. I never get used to it. Sezin’s 6 word essay sparked a unique conversation on Twitter…take a look. She’s not your […]
Deirdre Stoelzle, Casper, WY. In Rwanda there were times that I was the first white person some Rwandans had ever seen. Mostly people wanted to touch my skin, my hair, but at one prison there were two little girls with their mother, bringing food to their imprisoned father. They saw me and screamed in horror. […]
Amber Halverson, Eugene, OR. “Oh good! He doesn’t look like he has any white in him at all!” My first real encounter with my own race that I can remember was when I was in middle school. My white godparents had just adopted a black baby. They “kept his black name”, DiMario, as his middle […]
Kimberly, Pittsfield, MA. My father, whom I don’t know, is black and my mother is white. I was raised in a White, Irish family. Growing up, no one in my family looked like me, but I never noticed until ‘Roots’ premiered on TV. I had my son with a white man, so he is one […]
Michelle Blanchard Ardillo, Rockville, MD. A Cajun girl in her kilt, that’s me. My dad was born and raised in southeast Louisiana, as was I, but my mother was born to Scottish immigrants who came to the US for economic and religious freedom. Upon marrying my father, however, she abandoned her Scottish heritage and adopted […]
Harleen Thind, American Canyon, CA. The reason why I chose these six words are because my mother and father are of different races, my father is European and my mother is Indian. Indians and Europeans were enemies in the past, they despised each other in the worst of ways. My father decided not to care […]
Anjali, Melbourne, Victoria.
Rhonda Nottingham Durham, NC My father was in the US Army when I was born. We lived in many places among many types of people. We moved to nowhere WV when my father left the Army in order to care for my ailing grandfather. I went to an all white high school, as there were […]
Emily Angelica Roldan, Saint Francisville, LA. My father is from Colombia and my mother is from Georgia. I have pale freckled skin, glasses, and I am a natural blonde with bottle red hair. I did not grow up speaking Spanish (my siblings and I the only cousins who do not speak it). When I was […]
Jordan Seigal, Flushing, NY. I’m Eurasian with a white father. At times I think, of course he was white. I wonder why, exactly. Why were Asian men not good enough? I look Asian. I have been turned down and called terrible things by Asian women, because of my appearance. Am I considered better because I […]
Beatriz Mallory Newfoundland, PA My father was one of the first black men to work at IBM in the late 50’s; my mother a Puerto Rican who migrated to NY to go to college. My father embedded this mantra in my head from a very age. I was a “little brown girl” in a world […]
Raquel Saunders, New York, NY. My dad is half black and my mom is white, when look at me you only really see the white. But I am a quarter black, and when I say that people look at me like I just gave them a lie. It pisses me off. Don’t judge me on […]
Susie, Fairbanks, AK. I am tired of being told I am not white enough or Asian enough. As mixed race, racial identity is already hard enough. My mother is Korean and my father white. I identify as asian, my sisters identify as white. I am the most anglo looking, as they both look Asain. Me […]
Al, Atlanta, GA. I was born 51 years ago. I grew up with a father who would definitely be considered racist today, but was probably just typical blue collar in those days – kind of an Archie Bunker figure. I heard the N word at least a dozen times a week. Fast forward to my […]
Anonymous, Des Moiones, IA. Drake University This is what my mom was told in 1954 when social services came into her home and removed her and all of her siblings from her mom. At that time they were truly poor and were having a hard time finding enough food to eat. Her mother had a […]
Heather Nath, Buffalo, NY. My father is from India. My mother is Irish/British. I’ve had the “privilege” of looking 100% white woman my entire life. Non white haters call me stupid white bi***. My brother looks Middle Eastern. He ignorantly gets called a terrorist Muslim because he has a beard. My sister goes to Puerto […]
Arlene Arias, Waterbury, CT. As an adult, I am an educator and social worker who fights for equality and promotes the value of diversity.
Robert S. Davis, Hanceville, AL. My southern blue collar father said that he never voted for the party but only for the man. Most of his life he voted for Democrats but in his last years he voted all Republican. He always voted for the biggest bigots running, even if only by party association, Dad […]
Aimee Mallery, Rochester, NY. My daughter is Native American on her father’s side. When faced with a form for daycare, I had to choose whether to label her Native American or Caucasian. They insisted she couldn’t be both.
Mark Steensland, Elk Grove, CA. Mark provides a link to: When Readers Do Get It by: Nicholas Kristof, featured in the NY Times to illustrate his 6 words.
Ann Lee Adams, Corvallis, OR. My father was part Cherokee. But we were raised white. So I don’t know what to feel…or be.
Julia Guerra, Austin, TX. My brothers are very important figures in my life. They were born to a white mom and a white dad. They are blonde and red-haired, with blue and green eyes. When they were little babies, my white mom married my Mexican dad and he adopted both of them as his own. […]
Anonymous, TX. Said a well travelled Black American female veteran to her biracial, trilingual, and dual citizen son. Behind her, in full agreement, stood her Eastern European Jewish husband. As madly in love as was at first sight, their relationship was taboo, condemned by family and friends alike. Now years later they faced their resultant […]
Christina Mayes, Richmond, CA. The constant revolving question in my life is, “What are you?” Let’s take care of this question now. My father is Peruvian and my mother is Irish-Italian. My father left when I was three, so for most of my life I felt like he left me with no culture or language. […]
Yasmin Gill Baltimore, MD My mother is white, American, and my father is Pakistani. Where ever I go, and whomever I am with, I rarely find someone who is at home with *all* of me. I am American, undeniably so, but there are peices of me that are also uniquely Pakistani. Americans see or experience […]
FessunUp Cracka, San Francisco, CA. My father never said n*****, but the multitude of subtleties…assumptions…these are mine to deal with. When I was a teenager, I frequently made racial slurs…weird, considering that there were only 3 black kids in my 1500 student high school. Now it is different for me. This cracker minored in black […]
Thelma Garcia, McAllen, TX. Thanks to my father (Mexican born) for making me proud to be an American.
Arturo Aguilar Los Angeles, CA My dad was a car painter and during vacation from Jr. High School I would go work as his helper. One day a client of the body shop came in and was unhappy about the time it was taking to get his car painted. He complained to the owner by […]
Bonnie Howard Fort Pierce, FL
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 […]
Dahomey Abanishe, Secrest, FL. As a child in Kansas, I always assumed I was African-American and not because of what I was culturally but because of how I looked. I am Truly a Nigerian American culturally. My father is Nigerian and I was raised eating pepper stew and listening to Fela. No one fried chicken […]
James K., Riverside, CA. I’m a white male and my wife is half Mexican and half white, but her sister is half Thai because they have different fathers. Any time we get to have our nephew come visit, we try to do as much as possible with him like going to the aquarium or disneyland, […]
Matt Schoch, Viroqua, WI. I’ve always felt guilt and shame having grown up in a racist household. Even as an adult I’ve felt awkward around people of a different race, as if I’ve done something wrong. My hope is that my race card will help me shed the guilt and shame of being taught to […]
Brad Crump, Floral Park, NY. As a Presbyterian Pastor I serve a diverse congregation (Guyanese, Jamaican, Black, White). As a teacher I work for a Middle School in Springfield Gardens (97% non white). While I spend every day serving the diverse cornucopia of NYC I am seen by many as the problem, the privilege, the […]
Keith Williams, Hawthorne, CA. I know plenty of black fathers…notice I didn’t say sperm donors, we are perceived to be an endanger species. Every father’s day on facebook, you can read the hurt from mothers, and children. Real black fathers exist, I’m proud to be counted as one of them. Society has deemed that the […]
Anonymous, IA. My mother had left the hospital to go home for a while, take a long hot shower,get fresh clothes for us both,and other little errands. Since I was a toddler of 3 or 4 years old I couldn’t be left alone in the hospital Pediatric Intensive Care ward,so my mother left my father […]
Nina Martin Phoenix, AZ I am quietly proud of my multiracial background: my mother is Chinese, and my father is half German, half American. I also look absolutely nothing like my mother, save for straight hair and slightly tanner skin. While never a negative issue, this has led to some interesting situations since the time […]
Amy Spencer, Kalona, IA. On Location: Drake University Sometimes when I look in the mirror, I think, ‘Dang, you’re pale.’ But inside, I’m mixed, because my husband and kids are a huge part of me.
Alexandria James-Hayes, Rancho Cucamonga, CA. I have lived in the suburbs my whole life and I grew up around mostly white people. My parents are divorced, my father lives in Alabama and I live with my mother and stepfather. When I use to visit Alabama my fathers family would always say “you talk like a […]
Sandra Hart, Brookeland, TX. This is an amazing thing to do. Growing up in the South in a white household with a black cleaning lady I felt there was more to the story. But no one would tell me anything or even answer me truthfully. I felt that Emma on orders from my mom would […]
Nedra Rutherford, Bridgeport, CT. People often think that I am not smart, my children have different fathers and last names. My husband is the father of them all.
Jean Tokuda Irwin Salt Lake City Public Library “I’m Japanese-American with a Japanese mom and a father who was a GI.” The Japanese called children like me Konketsuji, or loosely translated, GI bastard child. I was one of the offspring of a a Japanese mother and an American GI during the post-war occupation years, in […]
Charon Mcclain, Dallas, TX. In 2009, my father a proud military man passed. He was a great dad and loving husband. He was a proud man who had been in the Air Force and run his own business. I thought I knew all the stories that could be told. Until a pilot sent his condolences […]
Erica Watts, Arlington, TX. Growing up, I believed that I was all African American. My mother was African American and so was my brother and that is all I needed to know, to know that I was African American. However, as i got older, people began to question my ethnicity. Some claiming that I looked […]
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 […]
Jacob Augare, Kansas City, MO. Words from my Blackfeet, Native American father from the Piikani Nation.
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 […]
Jake, USA. My mother is from Ghana and my father is from New York. I am African-American and it drives me crazy when people who have a distant relative from Africa consider themselves African-American when they have no cultural ties to Africa. Black Culture is different from African Culture.
Felix Brooks Jr., Kalamazoo, MI As the father of a biracial child I told my daughter not to let anyone place a label on you. You get to choose for yourself . She took me up on that, and owned her own choice, and never struggled with who she was as a person .
Mark Ohrstrom, The Plains, VA. I will not be one too.
M. Peek Fitzgerald, Harrisburg, PA. In my 53 years of life I feel that I must carry something like this every time I leave my home. This is not the America I fought for. Not the America that I have to explain differences to my children. I’m an American too and I feel like a […]
Nicole S., Overland Park, KS.
Peter Alison, Richmond, VA. I come from an Austrian mother and an American father, so when people ask me about my ethnic background I tell them I’m half-Austrian. Throughout middle and high-school this elicited responses asking me if I hated Jewish people, or if I praised Hitler. It was annoying at first, but later it […]
Joseph Anico Angeles Irvine, CA I was born in the Philippines and when I turned three, my father (pa) enlisted in the U.S. Navy and moved to the U.S. to provide a better life for me and my mom. Shortly after his enlistment we joined him in San Diego, California. San Diego was the premiere […]
Katie Moore New Echota, GA I used to hate the way I looked growing up. My mom & brother had fair skin & freckles & I had darker skin & hair. I like the way I look now. I’m proud of my heritage. I am of cherokee, creek, German,& African decent. I stand taller than […]
David Duncan San Antonio, TX Our father would never disclose the full specific reasons for his anger regarding the Trail of Tears and the treatment of the Cherokee people. He talked of land granted his father being stolen by an overseer appointed because ‘Indians’ could not be trusted to manage their own property. His father […]
Jessica Danielle Jensen Tampa, FL I am the product of two people who only saw “who” there were, not “what” they were. Because of their bond, they produced four daughters (including me) who I believe are very beautiful. Mixed-race children represent the beauty that comes from open hearts and open minds. And, they have GREAT […]
Alia Laurence Orlando, FL When I was 18, we found out that we were not simply Cherokee and various shades of European pale. (My father always considered being part Cherokee his ‘greatest shame’.) We found out we were also part African. Specifically, African-American of Malagasy descent. Not that this should’ve come as a great surprise […]
Catherine Marden El Cerrito, CA My mother is from El Salvador. My father is from Kentucky. I grew up in rural Oregon. I didn’t know I was half-hispanic until I realized checking the hispanic box on college applications might help me get accepted. To this day I struggle with my Salvadoran ancestry. I am white. […]
Katrina V. Cromwell, Pearl Harbor, HI. My father is Hispanic and White and my mother is Black. They met in high school and they have been married for 28 years. I knew nothing about racism until my father sat me down as a kid and told me about things that my parents went through in […]
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 […]
Patricia Armstrong St. Louis, MO I was no more than 7 years old and made friends with a black girl in the neighborhood. We really had a lot of fun together and my family did not object. After a few weeks, I was invited to her house. After her father saw my white skin, he […]
Clyde Jasper Oakland, CA I’m a tall black man with dreadlocks. I’m a husband and a father. I’m a property owner, and a taxpayer. I’m a veteran. I vote. I graduated Phi Beta Kappa from a world class university in Berkeley, CA. In passing, I many times acknowledge a white persons presence and humanity with […]
I am a white woman married to a Mexican American.
David T Roth Nashville, TN I was walking through Centennial Park in Nashville, TN. I looked up to see a young Father holding his daughter of 3 or 4 facing him. It was obvious that they were interacting in a way that only parent and child can. Where the world around them disappears and they […]
Marcus Atlanta, GA Born of African American parents, raised by my African American mother and Irish-German (adopted) father. Big brother to a bi-racial sister and my cousins are white, Asian and Latino.
Sebastian Pacheco Lancaster, PA I will never forget the time when I was trying to save my father’s life. It was January 2006 and I called my father (he was 77) who lived in Puerto Rico. He retired as a Union Painter for a hospital in Bronx N.Y. for 30 years. He was not in […]
Katherine Fulton Chippewa Lake, OH My mother, father, aunt, grandmother and I have been mistaken for everything from Italian to Egyptian. When we tell the truth, reactions range from surprise to disgust.
LB White does not mean privileged. My grandfather grew up one room house with no electricity and an outhouse. My father worked hard so we didn’t have to.
Thais TX My father, age 83, born in a small town in northern Louisiana, has always called my siblings, cousins, and I “Cottonpicker.” My father is the grandson of “Old Man Bass”–as they referred to him, a slaveowner, and Grandma Meli, short of Amelia, an enslaved African-American woman who lived to see freedom. Grandma Meli […]
Derek Jones, Novel Ideas Book Club Washington DC
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.
Submitted via Twitter: @Only4RM #Trayvon’s father
Anonymous Submitted via: NPR’s Talk of the Nation