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 [...]
Anonymous Lexington, KY These words, written upon a sign, greeted my grandfather when he arrived in New York after immigrating from Ireland.
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 [...]
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 [...]
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 [...]
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.
Austin Howard Lakeland, FL I recently found I have a black grandfather on my mother’s side, making me 1/4 black.
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 [...]
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 [...]
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 [...]
Chad Oiastad Madison, WI Just that I’m glad social norms have changed. Anyone who views my mixed race kids as anything other than just kids is now the outsider, at least where I live. It’s better this way.
Jessica Goldhirsch Arlington, MA
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 [...]
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 [...]
Robert Carroll Rogers Boston, MA I’m glad you’re doing this. Wounds this deep take honesty, imagination, and all our resources to heal.
Richard Perez Bay Shore, NY Race is a byzantine and nuanced subject. The simpler days of the old binary strata, i.e. white/non white, are no more.
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 [...]
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 [...]
Mike Middlebrooks White Bear Lake, MN Century College Grandparents & Parents from Ocilla, GA
Anonymous Submitted at the Penn Central Conference 2011