White Privilege doesn’t exist for me

Justin Banks, Mission Viejo, CA. I was born into an average middle class family that is dominantly white. I know that my father was born into a working class family where my grandfather worked a number of odd jobs but mostly was a handyman for most his life. My dad was the first in his […]

Life in the borderlands is painful.

Kaller, Portland, OR. Native American grandfather, Quaker grandmother, their child was my mother. Black stepfather, biracial brother, adopted Latina child, all Chinese grade school, segregation, race riots, the battle for Civil Rights…who are “my people?”

You’re Indian? With Dot or Feather?

Sam, Morris, MN. I have a grandfather that is fully Native American, from the White Earth Tribe. So my mother is ¼ Native American, and I am less than ¼. My father is mostly German. So I have fairly light skin, and my hair is light brown. In most situations I consider myself Caucasian and […]

Grandaddy gave carp to the darkies.

Clay Underwood, San Diego, CA. My grandfather, born 1890’s, was an avid fisherman. My brother and I fished with him in rural north Alabama when we spent summers there in the 1960’s. If grandaddy caught a carp he would give it to one of the black families he knew (he called blacks “darkies”). We were […]

Ilinois Grandfather fought South, Still There.

Joe Fricke Greenwood, IN My mother’s Great-Grandfather fought for the 121st Illinois Volunteers in the Civil War, was shot and killed in action against the Confederates near Resaca, Georgia. He is buried in an unmarked battlefield grave. I guess he gave his all for the cause too.

We lost our culture to survive.

Brianne Hittenberger, USA. It is the end of me, and I of it. My German last name belongs to me, my disabled brother, and my female second-cousin. My brother and I do not necessarily expect that we will marry, or that our cousin will keep our name if she does. When my brother and I […]

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“Who’s that white boy talking to Ning?”

Antonio “Tono” Cruz Sablan, Tacoma, WA. Immediately when I was born in 1996, I was adopted by two very loving individuals. My parents, Antonio “Tony” and Brenda Sablan, have provided me with years of unconditional love; the Chamorro community, however, was not always the same. My father is a Chamorro, native to the island of […]

Blinded grandfather gave granddaughter excellent vision

Nicole, East Lansing, MI. My grandfather was blind all my life. All I knew was that there was an accident. It wasn’t until he passed that I learned that the accident involved a white man. My grandfather was a doorman and was pushed into the glass door. My grandfather never spoke of the incident. I’m […]

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Grandfather’s poker gift a hanging invitation

Carol Zachary, Washington, D.C.–and Montana. Somehow I kept blocking on three things: A) the six words. . . grandfather, poker, three hangings, an invitation lost for almost 60 years, and my changed perceptions; B ) the fact that I’ve felt I should know exactly what evidence was presented against the men who were hanged; and […]

Charles, Betty, Moses, Rose, and Nice

Ted Hudson Centreville, VA Excerpt from my fourth-great-grandfather’s 1790 Sussex County, Delaware, will: It is my Will and I do order that the Negroes I now hold in bondage shall be free from me and my Heirs and at their liberty at the time hereafter mentioned to wit: Charles to be free & at his […]

Never met Grandfather because “Bull” Did

Andrea James Andrews Fresno, CA Our personal family legend includes Bull Connor from Alabama. My grandfather was diagnosed as Schizophrenic but that didn’t stop Bull Conner from killing him either before or right after they took him to the Colored Hospital for the Insane. Have an irrational hate for anything “Alabama” since then (born and […]

My race is human. Yours, too.

Nixi Chesnavich Pittsburgh, PA I was raised by a racist. My grandfather had a bias against everyone who wasn’t exactly like him. Even as a young child, I could see that the stereotypes he tried to instill in me were simplistic and dehumanizing. I chose not to hate. I chose to see all people as […]

Read Ralph Bunche’s comments about race

Richard C Evansville, IN Dr. Ralph Bunche was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his UN activities after world war II. He had remarkable people skills, intelligence, negotiating skills, humility and congeniality. The NAACP gave him the Spingarn Medal for his great work and he said “There need be no more Spingarn Medals nor any […]

How dare you presume I’m christian?

Gregory Ruderman Valencia, CA In most ways, being Jewish in modern America is significantly easier than at any time in the past, such as when my grandfather got his degree at MIT, something Jews typically couldn’t do in his era, but there are times when the discrimination is more insidious. From the supposed “war on […]

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Black Irish, mother’s grandfather from Barbados.

Dan Hubbs, Queensbury, NY. Mixed race ancestry was a family mystery. When visiting Irish relatives in Ireland, all of whom were fair skinned, I knew there was something else in my background. It turns out my mother’s father’s family, who were quite adamant about their “English” heritage, were mixed race and from the British West […]

I’m a German Russian Nazi Jew.

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 […]

My father endearingly calls us “Cottonpicker.”

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 […]

My great great Grandfather saved you!

Michael Smith Waco, TX I am sick and tired of being called a racist because I am a white, young, male. My great great Grandfather fought for the union to help free the slaves and keep the US from splitting, so I don’t owe you jack. If anything, you owe my family a gratitude of […]