Melissa U., Charlotte, NC. My Taino people would love me, from my plump lips to my curly hair. My African people would love me from the rhythm in my hips to the powerful thoughts in my mind. My Spanish people, they might deny me, but I can’t deny them. They are in my language, they […]
Soledad O’Brien, Submitted via Twitter: @Soledad_OBrien. @michele_norris #theracecardproject
Michael Kelley Los Angeles, CA I am a White man and when I am out running errands, some Black or Hispanic person will invariably ask if I am the Police. It’s funny that they still think it even though I grew my hair out because I got tired of being asked this question.
J. L. Woodward-Lyons Boston, MA
Jasneet Kaur Palaha, Ann Arbor, MI. University of Michigan. Sikhism, a monotheistic religion from Northern India believes the idea of simplicity, therefore requiring to never cut your hair, along with other requests. Men usually tie their hair neatly in a turban, whereas girls commonly let it down. Wherever we were, my father would be frisked […]
Anonymous, USA. Grew up as the only little brown girl in class, always having to explain why my hair grew up to the skies when it rained and the humidity took control of my tresses, then drew tightly too my head. Never getting assistance from the PTA moms passing out red and black combs on […]
Renee Bracey Sherman. Oakland, CA. “Can I touch your hair?” they ask, hand already extended, a mere inch from my thick brown curls. I feel invaded. Living as a biracial woman isn’t the easiest thing in the world. People come up to me with an inquisitively tilted head and say “What are you?” If I […]
Janaki Kuruppu Rockville, MD As a child, my skin was darker and my hair frizzier, thanks to the genetic contribution of my father who was from Sri Lanka. As I’ve aged, I’ve come to resemble my white American mother more and more, Since my father died when I was 19, every time someone brings to […]
Daniela Charlotte, NC Some people look puzzled when I say I am half Japanese. They tend to ask me if I perm my hair or go tanning because typically Japanese females have pin straight hair and fair skin. However they don/t seem to pay attention when I say HALF Japanese (I am also half Peruvian).
Jeanette Ruiz, Atlanta, GA. Growing up I learned to hate my afro hair. I was the only one in my family with course African hair texture. Although there were others in our Hispanic neighborhood with course hair and dark skin, my mother with straight silky hair made it seem like a problem. She would take […]
Nicolette, Alpine, WY. “You’re not black.” “No, I’m not.” “Then why do you have black-girl hair?” “I just like braids, that’s all.” When I had my white-girl hair professionally braided by an African hairstylist from Togo, I never expected I would lead people to such confusion. Why did I do it? I just like braids. […]
Tiana, Wildomar, CA. Typically I get complimented on my hair that I have inherited from my mother’s side. As a mixed breed people struggle to figure out what I am exactly, but my hair is a tell tale sign that I am not white. Aside from various compliments I always get that one girl that […]
Brenda Becker, Brooklyn, NY. I grew up in a white Queens neighborhood where neighbors worried that “they” would “get in,” and the cool girls had straight sheets of hair. I was delighted to meet and make black friends at my all-girls Catholic high school. It was the 70s, and even as I struggled with my […]
Justin Banks, Mission Viejo, CA. It’s weird how simple hair and skin color can categorize humans into different ethnicities and cultural origins that might not define that person at all.
Jessica Cooper, Glasgow, KY. The first time I met an African-American individual I was three years old. My mother and I were walking down an isle in the supermarket and I looked up to see a little girl with the prettiest hair. She had braids with beads and ponytails and I loved it. My three-year-old […]
Meteorologist Rhonda Lee, Shreveport, LA. I was let go from my job as a meteorologists at KTBS in Shreveport, LA for a Facebook post where I defended my hair, and later Black kids. I’m pregnant now and feel there is still so much I need to do to change the world before my son gets […]
Natasha Smith, Philadelphia, PA. I am white. I look white. I am white? Pale skin, red frizzy hair, littered with freckles. Often I am asked “Are you Irish?” The answer is “No…” and I wonder if it is the time to go into my family’s racial identity or my own struggles with my racial identity. […]
Laura N. Weston, Baltimore, MD. About 80% of the time people assume (mostly men) I am Puerto Rican even though I am half Caucasian and half African American. I stress to everyone who thinks it is important enough to ask me what I am that I am Mixed or Biracial and I state with what. […]
Carolyn Hipkins, Largo, MD. All my life I’ve been told that I have “good hair”. Its very soft and with a loose curl pattern. If I straighten it or put a relaxer in it it looks like Caucasian hair. But let the humidity go up. My hair reverts to its natural curly state. I spent […]
Tunya Marie Loftis, Dallas, TX. I love who I am. I am the firstborn of my mother with four siblings under me. Strangely enough, when I was young, I didn’t know my Mom was white. She was my normal. She was just Mama. Who taught me how to read and color. She did my hair, […]
Heather Saskia Nichols, Maple Grove, MN. I do not bleach my hair. I do not color my hair. I do not highlight my hair. I do not think about my hair. I do not think with my hair. Why am I called dumb because of my hair? In 7th grade, I stopped talking in class. […]
Heather Raymond Grand Rapids, MI Understanding Race Project – University of Michigan People say that “blondes have more fun,” but having light hair isn’t what it is cracked up to be. Many times I find myself at the receiving end of stigma when I have a “blonde” moment: dumb, human mistakes blamed on the color […]
Khairah L. Walker, Montclair Heights, NJ. My hair is not my heritage. It’s been an issue my entire life, people define me because of it. People hate me for having it, curse me when cutting it. It is not ME. Yes it is my crown but I am my temple. I revel in my blackness, […]
Clare Norris-Bell, Los Angeles, CA. In the Black community, hair has been been a measurement of one’s value for generations. In the African-American culture, “good” hair refers to hair that is not kinky or not what is pejoratively called “nappy”. It is hair that is closer to the texture of people in parts of the […]
Sherhonda Florence, AL As a child, every time a white girl touched my hair, she had something derogatory to say about how my hair felt to her fingers. Those experiences didn’t end with adulthood. I was a career professional at a university in Huntsville, Alabama, when a coworker asked to touch my hair. My hair […]
Victoria N. Fortson, GA My ancestors came to America just like many others. Just because I am white, does not mean my family “owned” “slaves”. When an African American girl says to me “you’re so lucky to have that hair” or “I would pay a lot for some of your hair”, it makes me mad. […]
Stefanie Walker, Sacramento, CA. Sometimes I just want to dye my hair and see what it would be like to blend into the crowd-to not be defined by my red hair color anymore-to not be a “red head”. Red heads are the biggest minority of all in my opinion, how many do you actually know? […]
Joan Socorro Sullivan, Minneapolis, MN. I’m a quarter Mexican and over half Irish, I don’t attend church and I don’t drink. My hair is dark brown, my eyes are blue, I freckle like no one’s business; there’s the black Irish. My hips and bosom refuse to fit in anything smaller than a medium since I […]
Susan Williams Frappier, Canada. It`s just a hair thing. I spent my childhood wanting to have bouncy, floaty, flippable hair. It`s only now at 37…38 tomorrow, that I have embraced and called beautiful and amazing MY hair. I no longer want to be like everyone else. I still think the others are beautiful, it`s just […]
Nikki Hearn, Sacramento, CA. Being “Black” just the way God made me is enough.
Nicole, New Orleans, LA. Black women are so obsessed with their hair that it can totally consume their life… “I can’t get in the pool ‘cuz I can’t get my hair wet”. “Girl, I can’t work out and sweat and mess up my hair”. “I can’t buy that. I gotta pay to get my hair […]
Shaunise Allmond, Baltimore, MD. Society assumes since I am a black woman with natural hair I cannot do simple tasks like combing my hair. My hair texture is extremely curly and what some consider nappy. I have broken combs in the past and will continue to break them in the future. My problem with people […]
Donna Monroe, Indianapolis, IN. It was the summer of 1957. I was riding on a train with my mother when I saw another little girl who was having her hair braided. She was crying. My heart went out to her because I cried when my mom tried to comb the tangles out of my hair.
Taylor, OH. I come from two very light parents & my dad is the one who has red hair, its natural but I constantly find myself having to explain and even defend who I am to elder white women & even black people.
Jeanine Flier, Tujunga, CA. I am a mother of 3 multiracial children. They all have different types of hair. My oldest son has a very curly large beautiful Afro . My middle child as wavy thick hair similar to mine. My youngest child has large black curls. My oldest child is the ONLY ONE WHO […]
Aphrodyi Antoine, Seattle, WA.
Saraa Fadl, Philadelphia, PA.
Laura Abercrombie, Mulberry, FL. I am a 27 year old biracial (mother black, father Russian and Romanian Jewish descent) woman. I was born and raised in NY, transplanted to rural Fl when I was a teen. I am also one of Jehovah’s witnesses. Basically, I’m very used to being on the fringes, the “token”, the […]
Angel Walker, Hayward, CA.
Jesse Hernandez-Oliver, Modesto, CA. I’m Mexican, African and Native American (Apache and Cherokee soecifically) with ringlet curled hair that resembles finger waves of the 1920s when brushed. Growing up I remember everyone always asking to touch my hair. I can speak some Spanish too so that also through people off,which I always found to be […]
Lauren, Fairpoint, NY. I was required to do this for a MSW course on ethnic diversity. As a white, Italian-American woman, it was very difficult for me to think of an example of a racial micro-aggression that I have experienced. I have coarse, curly black hair. The statement was meant to be an insult.
Dana, USA. People always assume that if a black women has long hair, it’s not real.
Michelle, Norfolk, VA. When I tell people my father is from Denmark most people in America always ask me why my hair is not blond. Scandinavians have just as many different natural hair colors as they do blond.
Lauren McEnerney, Norfolk, VA. ODU
McKinley Dixon, Richmond, VA. In the dominantly caucasian school that my sister used to attend, she would get picked on for her hair being curlier and fuller than the other girls in her school. It got to the point where she would straighten it every morning before we go to school. Damaging her hair, for […]
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 […]
Terence P Ward New Paltz, NY I’m one year in to a five-year exploration of dreadlocks as a participant-observer, so I can learn about the experience and the perceptions; it’s called Dread Like Me and I maintain a blog about it at dreadlikeme.blogspot.com. I expected people to treat me differently because they would think I […]
Amara Lawson-Chavanu Elk Grove, CA I wear my hair in an Afro.
Diana Ryan Millbury, MA My last name notwithstanding, I am 100% Puerto Rican through and through. That is an ethnicity, not a race but too many people don’t make that distinction. My features are typical in the culture, full lips, broad nose, dark curly hair, olive skin that tans deeply and easily. It’s a blessing […]
Lunia Collado Cranston, RI As an adult, I’ve been living between the US and the Dominican Republic. While in the US, curly/kinky hair is not usually a big deal, it definitely can be, and is often perceived as unprofessional for situations such as job interviews and media appearances. In the Dominican Republic, the issue of […]
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 […]
Aminah Columbia, SC Being a light-skinned African-American has afforded me the ability to kind of live on multiple sides of the race coin in terms of my superficial assets. Many people assume that I’m mixed; I’m not. Many people assume that I lucky because, since I’m fully black, I have good hair. Man, if one […]
Alexis Beauford Normal, IL 2 years ago I decided to go natural. A lot of non-ethnic people don’t know what that means. When an African American woman gets a perm, it’s to make her hair straight and more manageable which is the opposite of when some other ethnicities get a perm. When someone decides to […]
Jessica Stagg Heber, UT They’re eyes widened. “How..?” someone asked awkwardly. I laughed. It was a reaction that I was so used to whenever someone asked me about my race. Maybe it was my milky-white skin that caused them to look in awe. “You look like a Dutch person, except for the eyes.. and hair..” […]
Mia Turner New York City, NY The obsession so many young black women have with long straight hair has undermineded the cultural identity and pride of a generation.
Rachel Salt Lake City, UT Blonde hair and blue eyes must mean no brains, right? Despite having a college education, being an avid reader, having an understanding of and experience teaching math and science, and having written published news features, I still have times when I am treated like my intelligence is less than others […]
An Indigenous Native American’s with Curly Hair, USA Western Hemisphere Indigenous Natives The “straight hair myth” started by The English Settlers in North American, and spread like a nasty virus throughout our entire hemisphere. Anyone else tired of this lie. THE PENCIL TEST: In the past Whites had a test which was used to define […]
Sahra Hassan Minneapolis, MN This was said to me by a hair stylist the minute I walked into a salon. Ironically, my hair was cover so she couldn’t tell what my hair type was but she assumed this based on my skin color. Unconscious actions like these can lead to structural racism in our society.
Charlotte, Houston, TX. I grew up close to African Americans. They were guests in our home and people on the bus with us. I never noticed how taboo touching was between us until I was 30 and a neighbor girl came over to play with my kids. She skinned her knee and as I hugged […]
Sarita Houston, TX As a child in the south, I was picked on for several reasons: I have a dark complexion, I have decent hair, and I spoke English the way I was taught to. All of which cut very deeply. The worst came from family members, cousins, who would introduce me to their friends […]
Mikah Broken Arrow, OK A lot of people are surprised when I tell them I’m Mexican… I’m light-skinned with dark hair and it disappoints me that it’s hard to get a dark tan or that people can’t tell. I’m proud to be a Mexican American and I’m still finding my identity as a person and […]
Michele Ypsilanti, MI My darling boys are Chinese and Black but look more racially non-specific; even while I lived in northern CA, what people think of as some sort of center of tolerance, people constantly assumed that since I was Black I was their nanny. Even though they are older now, I still get surprised […]
Kehinde Yemen I sat down at a store today in the middle of Mumbai and a cute little girl about two years old was walking by with her grandma. She took one look at me and refused to come any further. I smiled at her encouraging her to take the few extra steps but she […]
Caty Salas Oakland, CA Being a guessing game gets old. PC-ness has cut down on questions like “What are you?”, “What color are you?”, and “Is that really your hair?”, all of which used to sincerely baffle me when I was a kid. Now they just ask me where I’m from. Endlessly. I am from […]
Sonni Williams Germantown, MD My name is Sonni, and I am 47 years old. I have 3 sons, and all of them have white fathers. When my first two were born, it was clear to everyone that their father was white, or that they were of mixed heritage because of their fare skin and hair […]
Maggie Whitman Boston, MA My African-American friend freaks out whenever anyone asks to touch or play with her hair, but she is always coming up and playing with my hair (and other white women’s hair) without asking. I don’t want to say anything… but it seems hypocritical.
Jessie V. West Sacramento, CA. As a little girl I was always told “you have such pretty hair” and then with that i was asked what are you? As a kid I never thought about it until I got older.It wasn’t until I was in High School that that phrase used to bug me. At […]
Cynthia Detroit, MI Growing into my African heritage in America, I love to wear my hair how it naturally grows. I get the stares of disapproval but we all must remember i’m not here for your approval. Please, ask before you touch.
Allison Valeri Charlotte, NC In 2011, I took a trip to Kenya, Africa where my team and I were welcomed in as family. We were all white, a lot of us with blond hair and blue eyes, and one person with red hair. We were a sight to be seen. We stayed in an area […]
Caroline Hutton Raszewski Columbia, SC As boycotts and riots raged around the South in the early 60’s I was oblivious. It was the first day of school. Mother was braiding my hair as my brother, one year older than I, lay on her bed. She grew serious. “There might be little black children at your […]
Victoria Finney Cambridge, MA I still remember how upset she was when I asked her this. Like I had said something wrong that I shouldn’t have. Like I had failed a test somehow. “Tori, aren’t you happy with the way you are? You are beautiful; black is beautiful.” Why is she saying this? Why does […]
Tiffanie Luckett Washington, DC I have had men and women approach me on public transit, in the streets of Washington, in restaurants and grocery checkouts, in nearly every domain of my life, and touch my hair without my consent. As a black woman with long curly hair, I feel like somehow people think my hair […]
Adana, Seattle, WA. I have 2 children. My son looks just like his papa: dark, wavy hair and alabaster skin. My daughter looks like me: golden skin and curly brown hair. When I’m out with my son, I’m asked if I’m his nanny. When I’m out with both kids, I’m asked if they have the […]
Giselle Henry Torrance, CA The first person who taught me that looking more like my African ancestors than my non-African ancestors made me ugly was my mother. She didn’t say it directly, but she said by telling me to pinch my nose so it wouldn’t be so wide. She said it by saying how “pretty” […]
The Rev. Dr. Laura Mae Johnson New Bern, NC [stumble]
Rebecca Carroll Brooklyn, NY
Hilary Roberts-King Baltimore, MD Children’s books and Sesame Street make multi-cultural living look so easy. Of course I want my daughters to be proud of their beautiful biracial hair. Of course I genuinely admire my daughters’ beautiful curls. But it is so much more complex than that. It’s not just hair.
Valerie Elverton Dixon, East St Louis, IL. As an African-American woman living in a society where the standard of beauty is light skin and straight hair, I am so grateful that I came of age during a time in this nation’s history when we started to celebrate and to affirm the beauty of various skin […]
Charles Hegeman Cheverly, MD All too often I see of bi-racial children with what would be best described as a birds nest on their head. Please save these kids with a trip to the barber shop, beauty salon or a good friend with similar hair.
Thomas Larsen Ann Arbor, MI I have said it over and over, that I actually am not Jewish, but every time I say so they give a start of surprise.
Kyrsten USA I chose these six words because I hail from several different European ancestries. I have German, Irish, French, and Danish in my blood. I often tire of people who ask where my family originates from because there is no simple answer. I am German. I am Irish. I am French. And I am […]
Deborah King Bolingbrook, IL I was 7 years old the first time I had my hair straightened with a hot comb. For the next 25 years, my world revolved around the maintenance and condition of my hair. Moving to another city, the first order of business was to find a hair dresser. The never ending […]
Ernest Fabrizio Garcia New Fairfield, CT Neither of us are African-American, but our children are. There seems to be a conception that doing black hair well is partially genetic.
Carissa Wertman Lockport, NY “Dumb blond” jokes just aren’t funny.
Jordan Falby Ann Arbor, MI Understanding Race Project- University of Michigan
Chelsea White (African American) Ann Arbor, MI and… “My skin speaks when I don’t”
Kathleen Wieland Norwich, CT I’m a 6th generation New Orleanian & a genealogist. My natural-blonde sister & I had always hoped to find something “interesting” in the family tree to explain her incredible tan – as well as some very dark complexions & hair in one of our “purebred German” lines. I got very excited […]
Thomas LaVergne Kenton, OH People sometimes do not believe I am who I am due to stereotypes from Hollywood films. Not all Indians have dark skin, brown eyes, black hair, and live on reservations. Racism can exist by people denying you your identity.
Sophia Farber Brooklyn, NY Of course, when envisioning ideal partners, I do give a thought to what our daughter’s hair might be like. Guilty. Wondering if and when Michelle Obama will let the girls go natural at a state event.
Steve Blake Douglas, MA Genetically, skin colour, bone structure and hair texture are three of literally thousands upon thousands of genetic traits. We are a retarded species.
Katrina MA Last time I checked, yes- I am African American. Last time I checked, I was a Woman, and last time I checked I had a lot to be angry about, as should every other American citizen. Although years away from having a 17 year old son (Trayvon Martin), how am I supposed to […]
Robin D. Jenkins Submitted via: NPR’s Talk of the Nation
Nappy & Happy Pasadena, CA