Samantha Poelstra, Richmod, VA. I am half Czech, half German, very much white. I chose these words because I sometimes have a hard time adding to conversations about race because I have internalized guilt over the actions that others my color have committed. I sometimes feel ashamed.
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 [...]
James Estanislao Herr, Los Angeles, CA. Dad’s side came over in 1717–Swiss-German and Irish with some Danish and Greek thrown in. Mom came over in 1954. Filipino, Spanish and Chinese with I guess some Portuguese somewhere along the way given my middle name. Grew up in an all white community outside Philadelphia. Not sure who [...]
Nicole Bodenstein Milwaukee, WI I’m allowed to have a German last name.
R. E. Longdon Clarksville, PA My family complexion has always been called dirty or ruddy. My ancestors came from Europe through England but family folklore has much more than English in our history. Our family always classified as white but we stood out in our hometown to the point our “dirtyness” was speculated by some [...]
Mary Ann Paris Philadelphia, PA Except for my brother, there were never any children who looked like me. I am black and white, more specifically black, jewish, german, irish, italian and polish and my brother and I have European features. We grew up in a segregated part of Philadelphia among black children. They never wanted [...]
Maria Grand Rapids, MI I am an American “mutt” with white skin and German/Irish descent. People all of the time assume that just because my skin is white, that I have a bias for white people and a negative stigma against people of other races. That could not be further from the truth.
Scott Kraenzlein The New York City, NY Born to a (white) Canadian mother and a (black) African father in Canada I was adopted at birth by a white couple who divorced when I was 2. My mother married my stepfather, a German national, when I was 7 and we moved to Germany. I spent my [...]
Marika Oakland, CA People often ask me “What are you?” or “Where are you from?” which is par for the course for people like me who are ambiguously brown looking, which is how I’ve come to refer to myself. Over time I’ve noticed my attitude toward other people who ask these questions changing. I used [...]
Jennifer Kerkow Chaska, MN Im Scottish, German, and Indian. It was my Great grandfather who was indian and I love it and want to embrace it and claim it but im told my people I cant because it isn’t a large part of my DNA though you can see it in me.
Max Haverhill, MA I’m an American with mostly German and Italian backgrounds. When the warmer months begin, I tend to get tanner than many friends of mine, likely because of the Italian background. I have been confused for other races in the past; there’s a photo in my home of me an my African-American cousin. [...]
Mikayla of Westminster Westminster, CO People tend to assume that all Germans are the Nazi’s idea of perfect: blonde with blue eyes. They also immediately assume that we’re pure-bred Nazis, or racist against Jews. Most of them can’t grasp the fact that my dad is as American as it gets, and are shocked to see [...]
Nicole Miller Highland, CA Because I am German, does that Make me a Nazi??? Why do I always have to be related to Hitler??? People are cruel. Regardless of whether they know they are being cruel or not… I catch myself judging by race sometimes. I don’t mean to do it but the stereotypes are [...]
ANNA GRASSI Cremona, Italy My husband ( German ) and I ( Italian ) adopted an Indian-born daughter. We live in Italy. It is not always easy to make people understand that we are a family: adoption and different skin colours make us “very perculiar”. Why did we parents choose a girl so different from [...]
Melanie Randolph Longview, WA I really knew nothing about my heritage until I was 44 and chose to research my birth family. It’s weird to know nothing at all in a world that is so hung up on where they come from. I look so generic. Brown hair, brown eyes, average height. I assumed Italian [...]
Aman Agah Brooklyn, NY I am Iranian, Irish, Azari, and German. Being Iranian means being called Arab. I am not Arab. Being Iranian means being part of a group of people that so many don’t know – even if I say “Persian” – and yet I am part of a group labeled terrorist. I am [...]
Nisha Ahamed Jersey City, NJ My mother is German, raised in Canada and my father is Indian Muslim. I was born and still live in the US. I grew up in a very white area, and now live in a very multicultural city. When I walk down the street in the Indian section of town, [...]
Alessa Abruzzo Philadelphia, PA Biologically I’m Korean. Ethnically I’m Irish-German-Italian. I was adopted at 4.5 months old, at which point I flew from South Korea to the USA and into the loving arms of my parents who happen to be white. To put it plainly, I was raised by white people – My entire immediate [...]
Bridget Ruff Portland, ME Everytime I meet someone from another part of the country, they immediately label me as a white hick from a rural state. I live in Portland (yes it’s a city and it doesn’t rain) and go to a school where 26 different languages are spoken by a quarter of the students. [...]
Karl Koessel Blue Lake, CA German-descent St, Louis raised 16-year-old volunteers for war. Japan surrenders while he’s in boot camp. Sent as occupational soldier, but really doing puberty. Comes to Berkeley in 1951 with new wife for school and I am first of 7 children to come. Growing up in mixed neighborhood where groups appeared [...]
Albert Toronto Who are the real Americans? Why do we have African Americans, Asian Americans, Chinese Americans, Korean Americans, but not English Americans, German Americans?
Glade Koehler Lake Forest, CA My father: German and Suomi My mother: Black-Seneca and Ashkenazi
Mark Sundermann Holt, MI This morning’s story about Mixed Heritage gave me hope. How does one pick from the following? German, Mexican, Dutch, Zapotec, Irish and (possibly) Menomini? I’m a MUTT.
Claudia Martin Thailand Thai-German-French-Cambodian. In Asia people always assume I’m white, and am treated like an outsider, telling me I’m not really Asian, but in Europe, it’s the opposite. So if I’m neither accepted as a white, or an Asian, I can’t help but feel like I’m always excluded.
Lance Remington Stuart Rood Redlands, CA Sometimes I feel like I have no identity. White american? what is that? Irish? German? Dutch? Danish? I want to be able to identify with those around me. I love learning about people. Their heritage, traditions and culture. By knowing someones race or races I can then proceed to [...]
Jordyn Schara Madison, WI I am Polish. I am Irish. I am German. My ancestors were immigrants in the early 1900’s. We were masons and farmers and hard working, loving people. We were urban pioneers and revolutionaries and strong and resilient. When you look at me, you see “white”. I wish you would look deeper. [...]
Christina Martinez-Williams Seat Pleasant, MD My mother is German and English, at least third generation American born, and my father is Cuban, first generation born. Much of my life I tried to identify with my Cuban side, because that is the side that people cannot usually physically see, especially according to stereotypes of what Latina’s [...]
McKenna Carlson Lakeland, FL
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 [...]
Briana Ciccarino Baltimore, MD “Are you Latina/Hispanic?” this is the question I often get when meeting new people. I appreciate the compliment and wish I was Latina, but I’m white. How can a white girl look Latina? Not sure. Like so many others, I am a mix of many heritages: I am Italian, Polish, German, [...]
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 [...]
Elaine Oyzon-Mast Avondale Estates, GA Filipino, German, English, Irish, supposedly with a touch of Cherokee and Iroquois. The melting pot serving up three beautiful boys.
Sabrina Price-Durling East Windsor, NJ I am proud to be more of just one race (black, white) and proud to have more than one nationality (American, German). After 36 years living, I still find it incredibly silly that other people feel the need to put me in a category…and more often than not its black [...]
Stephanie Connors Eureka, CA Music is one of my biggest reminders of the cultures that I grew up with. It fills me with nostalgia and pride, longing and love of the people who came before me. The people from: everywhere! I love all of it now. From day to day I swirl around in a [...]
Edvige Kromayer Barrie Clinton, NY Growing up in the ’50s, I was unaware that most people had no idea how to pronounce my name and were therefore reluctant to call on me in class or say hi to me on the playground. At the beginning of kindergarten, one kid even asked if I was a [...]
Michael Decker Austin, TX In Texas, the dominant ethnicities are German and Mexican. Over the past two hundred years, these two have mixed greatly — along with the other ethnicities. It surprises me that more people are not open to the idea that your last name does not define your complete heritage. My last name [...]
Celia C. Musch New York, NY My father was born in Germany in 1945 and came to the US with his mother when he was 6. At 12, he relinquished his German citizenship to become a US citizen. He worked for a German bank, but never taught me the language and after abandoning his German [...]
Dan Ellerman Baltimore, MD I was adopted from S. Korea at the age of 3 by a German/Irish couple. I grew up in a white household and neighborhood and went to predominantly African American schools in Baltimore city. The words I chose were told to me by my family and friends with the best intentions [...]
Anyssa Strauss Temple City, CA
Monica Santa Monica, CA I grew up in Texas in a small town where the population is roughly half Mexican and half white (German, Polish, Irish, etc.). I myself am half Mexican and half Irish. Funny enough, a lot of my friends are also bi-racial. When I moved away from Texas, I was shocked by [...]
Yvonne Kasper Hogan Phoenix, AZ Because of WWII, my family was displaced and I was born in Germany. When we came to the States in 1957, people would ask where I was from, because of my accent. I’d tell them, very innocently, that I was from Germany. They immediately called me a Nazi. My parents [...]
Rachel Stahr Bozrah, CT This is my heritage. My maternal grandfather and father are both Pennsylvania Dutch, but my great-grandmother is where things get interesting. Her family emigrated from Russia and was Jewish. She studied German and later moved there. She married a man who I’ve been told was in the S.S. Before things got [...]
Bodo Diehn Scottsdale, AZ When I came to the U.S from Germany in 1960, I had never met a Jewish person. Pete Lieberman became my best friend. I was too ignorant even to conclude his ethnicity from his name. How inhibited I would have been had I known early on, even though I was 10 [...]
Felina M. Gentile Colorado Springs, CO Both my sisters look Hispanic, like our mom. But I’m the only one to look my dad, who’s German. Some people wouldn’t believe me that I was Hispanic till they saw the rest of my family. So yes, sometimes I get mad/upset when people say I’m just some white [...]
K. Veidt Mid-Atlantic, USA I am proud of my race. I am proud of my French, Scottish, German, and British heritage; I am proud of my White skin. That makes me a racist in many eyes. Why? Other races are encouraged to be proud of their heritage, proud to be Black, Hispanic, etc., and yet [...]
Cassi Ulrich Rochester, MN
Elizabeth Liechti Chicago, IL Because I also speak German and Arabic I am sometimes VERY tempted to have a bit of fun with the person or persons making the assumption. Usually I say nothing and simply walk out of earshot, but once in a while I find it necessary to say, in English, “I can [...]