Cristina Reyes, Houston, TX. I chose the six words I wish I could go around the streets of Santo Domingo yelling. I have never understood, in all my years, why the Dominican culture steadily continues to deny their “blackness.” Their children aren’t taught to consider themselves “negro” instead they are to consider themselves “indio.” The [...]
Rob Silva Oakland, CA First generation with Indo-Dutch/ El Salvadoran heritage. Family has seemingly always been the non-white in the group, especially when listening to the my parents’ stories of assimilation. So strange then when my son was bullied at his new school in Berkeley for being the white kid.
Emma Alvarez Gibson, San Pedro, CA. My husband’s heritage is Japanese/Portuguese/French. Mine is Mexican/Irish/Scottish. Neither of us fit in anywhere while growing up; both sides of each of our families considered us oddities at best. People never knew what to make of us. I was too white for the Mexican kids and too uptight about [...]
Tee Virginia Beach, VA I would love to find the answer to that, and many other questions…
Elizabeth Las Vegas, NV Because I have white skin, people automatically strip me of any heritage I have. Please don’t mistake “white” as the absence of culture. My family have lived through many wars, prejudices, struggles, and also victories.
Reed Atlanta, GA “Where is your family from? No, but where are YOUR PEOPLE from? I mean, what is your HERITAGE? Like, your ancestors. I mean … where do your features come from?” That was one of the more polite conversations that someone has initiated about by race. Although I was raised white and generally [...]
Vivian Li San Jose, CA I deeply appreciate my heritage as a Chinese-American. It has taught me about a complex culture, thousands-of-years-old ideology, and a strong sense of identity. I am proud of the country my ancestors hail from and its incredibly rich and its understudied history. It has given me beautiful looks, and the [...]
Jennifer Kerkow Chaska, MN I’m mostly Scottish and German but Im around 1/4 Indian. I feel like I cant fully embrace it and claim it because it isnt the majority of my heritage, although its a part of me that I love. When my great grandparents came to America (from Poland) they didn’t take the [...]
Katelyn Tsukada Northampton, MA My mother is of Irish and Italian heritage; my father of Japanese descent. Both of my parents were born in the United States as were their parents before them. Both consider themselves to be American as documented by their passports, drivers licenses and birth certificates. My mother and father speak English [...]
Guadalupe Madrigal Riverside, CA I am first generation born in the U.S. proud of heritage and of the U.S. both. When I was growing I had to be careful when and where to say I was Mexican. It was a matter of being humiliated, bullied, or accepted. I was so insecure that i kept to [...]
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 [...]
Hanne Nielsen New Zealand Wherever I go, I’m always from elsewhere. Born in Canada, with Danish heritage, and living in New Zealand, every place assumes I’m ‘really’ from one of the others. What does ‘really’ mean? In New Zealand, everyone came from elsewhere at some point, usually from many elsewheres.
Lisa Harrison Long Beach, CA This is such a common reaction from people over many, many years. I don’t look half Cambodian by others standards. I just say I’m multi-racial. The list of my heritage is too long!
Valorie Rancho Mirage, CA Hope you love your heritage, too.
Sydnie Cunningham Tulsa, OK
Bessie King Boston, MA I don’t think I have been offended by being asked “Where are you from?” before. I was raised to know that I am a Mexican with an American passport in a country where everyone is from somewhere. Until the USA truly embraces diversity and it’s own history, there will be no [...]
April & Bill Ledford Carrboro, NC Native Americans and their contributions to US history, heritage, music, culture, food, customs — along with the often ignored, horrible American Holocaust — are still swept under the rug on a continuous basis in the media, history books, and everyday American society. The fact we have an NFL team [...]
Cecilia Joy Contreras Solano Riverside, CA
Kristine Ratanaphruks Durham, NC I look ethnically ambiguous and, at times, I pass for white. I grew up watching white men call my father “boy” — I’ve heard countless racist remarks made by people who don’t realize my heritage — I’ve heard the question ” What are you? ” too many times to count and [...]
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 [...]
Em New York, NY Born in Mexico, to mexican parents, crossed the border to find a better life, learning english on tv, grew up in Queens, the most ethnically diverse county in the US, with Colombians, Dominicans, Puerto Ricans, Mexicans, Ecuadorians, two brothers many shades darker than I, my mother “the help,” always having too [...]
Gunner Goshen, UT Just because I have confederate flags and my family comes from the south does not mean I am a racist.
JS CA Brought up to believe my Mexican heritage was secondary to my white heritage. Didn’t learn Spanish, didn’t learn culture. As a young woman I identify with being Mexican only when I am allowed to. For example, on a jury questionnaire, I check “white” because I fear I don’t have “enough” Mexican ancestry to [...]
Michelle Sweeten O’Fallon, IL I grew up in an average small American town in the Midwest. I remember the first black family to move to my town, and then the first Asian family. As a child, it didn’t mean much, though I think the town had a harder time accepting them than I and my [...]
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.
Amie Lecorchick NJ I have no idea who my ancestors were or where they came from…all I know is that I’m white, and I live in America. As a white American, I feel like the only cultural heritage I have is a collection of atrocities. I am surrounded by this enormous array of diverse, amazing [...]
Holly Thompson Grand Rapids, MI I am half Puerto-Rican and half Scottish, but definitely all people see is “white.” I am constantly struggling with pride of my Latina heritage, guilt of my inherent white privilege, and guilt of ignoring half of who I am. I hate documents that ask for your race. Do I put [...]
Laura Berbusse Salt Lake City, UT I feel like I neither have, nor have the right to have, a rich, cultural heritage. Further, I feel like I am not allowed to participate in other people’s heritage, since it is for their consumption and perpetuation only; I would be seen as an imposter, there only to [...]
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 [...]
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 [...]
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 [...]
Jodi Su Tharan Berkeley, CA My family is Jewish, Apache Chiricahua, additional hidden tribes that still remained unnamed after years of research, Welsh, Scots, Irish, English and probably more. We joke that we are ‘the great unwashed’..not nice but in a way reclaiming the history of poor folks from all over becoming the beauty of [...]
Meghan Morales Seattle, WA Even though I’m mixed race (Latina with Puerto Rican & Dominican heritage & White), my lighter toned skin provides me the privilege to ‘pass’ most days. I’m often mistaken for someone whose sole race is White from those who do not know me. Because of this, it was especially shocking to [...]
Feldon Starns Summerville, SC I come from a lower middle class family. I was the first to graduate collage in my family. I worked full time at menial jobs and paid for everything myself. No loans, grants, scholarships, or aid. Nothing was given to me. If working inside old fuel tanks in a shipyard is [...]
Andrew Steven Doss Callands, VA I learned of my Huguenot heritage when I took up genealogy several years ago. They were forced to leave their ancestral homeland simply because their religious beliefs defied the state organized religion. It’s amazing that so many other people around the world are facing this same type of persecution today.
Anjali USA Growing up I feel like I only belong to my Sri Lankan culture and heritage because I dismiss the white part of myself. I am half Sri Lankan and half white, but I look tan. I wish I was darker. Some say I look white, but when I look at myself I can [...]
Justin Pineiro Muncie, IN
Traci Butler USA I’m a Caucasian mother of a beautiful, amazing little girl who happens to be of mixed heritage, because her father is from Africa. I have a difficult time when it comes to school forms or paperwork for doctor’s offices, because they don’t give you a box for “mixed ethnicity” or a space [...]
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.
Mary Kate Cunningham Hong Kong Growing up in the United States as an immigrant, I often felt frustrated by the fact that my “racial identity” as a “white” person often obscured a deeper connection I held to my Irish heritage. Now, I live in Hong Kong, and I find the community here is more willing [...]
Steven Wood El Cajon, CA It is really difficult to explain to people that I’m proud of my heritage, especially among my educated friends. It isn’t that my heritage is difficult to understand or very complicated – it’s just that I’m white. There’s really no reason to be “proud” of one’s race, since it isn’t [...]
Melanie USA When I first had my children someone told my husband that our children will be considered black in this country. When I fill out forms for them there is a check box for black and white but not both. I mark both. I will not have them pick one over the other. Relatives [...]
Philippe Nassif Houston, TX A blessing and a curse growing up mixed racial in the deep south. Born to a Mexican mother and Lebanese father, I have successfully learned to identify with all of my heritages while feeling like an outsider at the same time. When you are with Arabs, there is always your “other [...]
Caitlin Grames Sterling Heights, MI Race, gender, heritage, and all other innate traits we are born with are only secondary to our life experiences. Our stories make us who we are as individuals. And you can’t capture a whole history with just “black”, or just “white”.
Charles McCoy Los Gatos, CA I grew up being steeped in the folklore of Irish and Italian cultural heritage, thinking I was “half Irish”and “half Italian” and listening to my grandmother crowing about only being Toscana and speaking Toscana ( the received Italian dialect). As I did my DNA testing, I discovered that I am [...]
Madeline Murphy New Orleans, LA My father is white. My mother is black. My experiences and perspective as someone who is visibly “mixed” is something I greatly want for my own children – and can’t help but worry about. What if my children look white and people identify them as such? What if they look [...]
Paul Ruscher Eugene, OR Explore Identity It is time to ignore appearance…it facilitates judging others. I am a father of 11 including 5 adopted kids and I love them all and wish others did. but my biological kids (Caucasian) have always been more accepted than my darker complected ones (adopted from India and some from [...]
Jane Smith Hanford, CA Wheeling my infant son in his stroller through the local farmer’s market one Summer morning 23 years ago, this is the most puzzling comment I received as a woman leaned over his stroller. I only saw both sides of his wonderful heritage reflected in his features.
Gabrielle Guzman San Diego, CA Yes, I am Mexican. Yes, I know I apparently hold the same facial features as someone who would be considered Asian. No, I did not just cross the border. No, I do not speak Spanish, although I can understand it fluently and am taking classes to learn it. I am [...]
Hao Nguyen Durham, NC I wanted to say… Black Vietnamese. Speak english, spanish, vietnamese. Eat suong kho, pho, and corn dogs. Words that describe my mixed race/heritage children. Having to choose only 6 words, I had to put them in order of words that most describe them. Having to choose what comes first — black [...]
Rachel Crooks Tallahassee, FL As a woman with a Mexican mother (“Mexican” to signify “mixed race,” although my mother has been identified by some as being Native American or Filipino or ‘Asian’) and a Jamaican father (his ethnicity is never questioned, though his nationality is reduced to ‘African American’), I grew up in a strange [...]
Patricia Wilson Laurel, MD I am a baby boomer and I grew up in the era of segregation, lynching, blatant discrimination, marches, race riots, sit ins, boycotts, fighting for the rights to be treated as human beings, fighting for the right to vote; as well as the right to be recognized as a female with [...]
William Lee Posey, Jr. San Diego, CA DNA test indicates I am 13% Sub-Saharan African which is the same DNA of African Americans. Since my heritage is from the Southeast United States, this should not be surprising. Some people, both black and white do not want to believe or accept that a white person raised [...]
Tracey Frierson North Ridgeville, OH Version 2: biracial anxiety; black/white; neither/both! I have two adult biracial daughters, three years apart, raised in the same home under similar circumstances- one for whom racial identity has been problematic, the other who identifies herself as Black and has always seemed to adjust positively to that aspect of her [...]
Gracie Springdale, AR This project is amazing.
Constance Morton Henderson, NV I am multi-racial, but what you see when you look at me is my connection to Africa. But my ancestors came from the British Isles as well as walked tall and proud on their Native American soil. Why cannot I celebrate my rick heritage with pride in your presence? If we [...]
Sozit Mohamed Sunnyvale, CA Being Ethiopian with Arab heritage in my family, most do not believe I’m black/African. Also, being black and muslim, seems to be the worst thing you can be in America right now.
Clarissa Galindo Richardson, TX Growing up in small town Texas, most people expected me to act a certain way just because of my heritage. I was nearly the exact opposite of the living stereotype that was most of the other Mexicans in my high school, including the ones I was related to. It wasn’t until [...]
Ngina wa Kaai Canada While this wasn’t said to me directly, it was said by a white coworker to a child of Indian heritage while teaching them swimming. It was a stupid thing to say, but it made me think about the fact that there were numerous swim instructors of colour on our staff (including [...]
John Heath Olguin West Orange, NJ Before you get all worked up about my 6 words. Let me explain. I watched a little boy of Mexican-American decent sing our national anthem and thought nothing of it. The next day I read about all the negative comments that came about of his performance (see link) and [...]
Kavisa Brooklyn, NY My parents raised me to be extremely proud and knowledgeable of my African American and Caribbean heritage. My love for Africa intensified further after spending 2+ years living and volunteering in Tanzania. In the mist of becoming fluent in Swahili and embracing East African culture I fell in love with my future [...]
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 [...]
Dana Mulligan Falls Church, VA I am totally, completely, one-hundred-and-ten percent of white decent. However, I identify as an Asian-American. Due to her father’s job, my mother grew up overseas in Taiwan and Hong Kong. She passed the culture she learned there on to me. We take our shoes off at the front door, have [...]
Jessica Wright Athens, GA I have grown up denouncing my Southern birth and heritage. My parents aren’t Southern and disliked its racist past. As a white girl, who am I?
Cindy Droog Grand Rapids, MI Clearly, I am Caucasian. Beyond that, so many people aren’t comfortable with the “origin unknown” concept. They want to tell me that my extremely short stature, or reddened face, must indicate a certain heritage. They have a difficult time understanding that my heritage is not something I’ve sought to understand. [...]
Kyle Lim Grand Rapids, MI As a biracial individual, I learned early-on how to de-emphasize certain aspects of my racial identity depending on who I was around. When I met my wife Claire, we were both attending a predominantly white private college and although she knew that I was mixed, her experiences with me have [...]
Signe Wendt Austin, TX Jewish by heritage when I began to worship Jesus I was told I was no longer Jewish and I had to pick one.Now I try to connect Christians to their faith as a yoga teacher and I am not sure who is more uncomfortable with that. Yogis (at least in Austin) [...]
Lucia Flores Medford, MA My parents raised us to be proud of our Dominican heritage, and at the same time went to great lengths to ensure that we had the cultural/intellectual capital to succeed in a white-dominant society. As a result, I am an active participant in American culture as well as Dominican/Hispanic culture in [...]
Brittany Carney Washington, DC As a person that is three quarters African American and one quarter Japanese, I feel that culturally I’m the other away around.
Adrienne Zimiga Minneapolis, MN I was born and raised on the Pine Ridge reservation my first 12 years. Upon moving from Batesland, SD to Castlewood, SD my caucasian grandmother was concerned that my brothers, sister, and I could face social problems being part Native American (iyeska: mixed blood/race) in an all white community. She told [...]
Jan Mason NY Born and raised in paradise as a Haole (white) person I had more than my share of discrimination but living on the “mainland” where I “fit in” with the white majority(?) my island heritage is invisible. I have taken to checking the box or “Pacific Islander” though I feel guilty about if [...]
Leigh Ann Mullins-Zugelder Carmel, IN For all intents and purposes most people would call me “white” or ” Caucasian” and it always seems like an insult. It means that because of my outward appearance I may receive the ” benefits” of what minorities may not. On the flip side, what also is indicated when someone [...]
Margaret Washington, DC St Patrick’s day in the USA does not reflect my Irish heritage, nor do “Irish” bars.
Ashley Bellamy Washington, DC Growing up, I tried so hard to supress my skin, my heritage…it was crippling as a child. It wasn’t until college years that I began to feel comfortable and prideful in being a Black/African American Woman who yes, EMBRACES HER Wild and Free AFRO!! As a teacher, I STRESS to my [...]
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 [...]
Mike Angell Folsom, CA So I’m just an average white guy who grew up in an average white little farming town in Michigan. There were those that were outwardly racist and so, I was brought up to believe that this view was bad, which is most agreeable to everyone, at least outwardly. But it was [...]
Kelsey Cleveland, OH I’m Lebanese/Irish but grew up solely around my Lebanese family. However they rarely acknowledged where we came from. The closest I’ve gotten to my heritage is through food: being taught how to make baklava, seeing big bowls of hummus, baba ghanouj, and tabbouleh surrounded by stacks of fresh pita bread at parties, [...]
Aaron Duran Portland, OR I’m of mixed heritage, being Mexican and Italian. However, I more closely identify with my Mexican heritage due to closeness of family and family history. Still, growing up in a small, farm and ranching based town, I found myself often downplaying my Mexican side. Even going so far, as a kid, [...]
Alice L. Costa Mesa, CA I always get asked “Where are you from”. Answer: LA. Where are your parents from?: Earth. Why is it that when people see a non-white person, they have to be identified by their race/ethnicity/heritage? Do people ever ask a white man where his parents are from? What their heritage is? [...]
April Bamond Surprise, AZ I am a blonde white woman of European heritage. I made a choice to have a mixed race child. As early as age 5, I remember seeing mixed raced children and thinking that they were simply, beautiful. The more I saw prejudice and bigotry, I knew my choice to have a [...]
Kathryn Sanders Summerville, SC I am white Southern woman . I will never forget overhearing a group of white co-workers harshly criticize a black co-worker’s slip into African American vernacular at an on-the-job baby-shower while handing out gifts. I have some Appalachian forbears and am an English major and I take great pleasure in using [...]
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Janet Modesto, CA I am from Irish, Welsh and Scottish grandparents and don’t identify with other cultures that are grouped White/Caucasian. I am proud of my heritage and refuse to check the box, always write in Celtic American.
Kelly Cirigliano Orange, CA I am ostensibly white. In the secrecy of my heart, I am embarrassed of my race. Often I feel the urge to shout, “I am not like them! I am not defined by my ancestry!” But still, I am ashamed. I am ashamed that the color of my skin is associated [...]
Larry Smith Flemingsburg, KY I feel like if I’m proud of my white heritage I will be seen as racist. There is a double standard. You can have black history month but you couldn’t have a white history month. You can have a scholarship program for blacks but you wouldn’t be able to have one [...]
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 [...]
Heather Ann Lindstrom Buffalo, NY My beautiful son was born to two very different parents. Me, of Swedish and Irish heritage,and his father of Samoan and Chinese heritage. When I would take my son out as a baby, it felt like everyone I met assumed he was adopted and asked “How long have you had [...]
Christina Vallem Ann Arbor, MI Understanding Race Project- University of Michigan When the elementary school holds a Heritage Day my kids would ask me “What are we?” At first I would say we are “mutts.” Kids love dogs and understood the answer. My best answer evolved into “Northern European mix.” An improvement over rattling off [...]
Lara Furar Canton, MI Understanding Race Project- University of Michigan I remember being asked this question as a child. And at various times throughout my life ever since. There was enough of “something” in my background that made it difficult for people to “figure me out”. For some reason, they needed to do that – [...]
Jason Struhs Salt Lake City, UT All safety and comfort that I currently enjoy has been at the expense of those who have a different cultural heritage than I. I do not want to benefit from this, but it is impossible not to. Walking alone in a suburb late at night, an officer is more [...]
Grace Ostrum PA Didn’t know I was Native American Indian until I was 38 years old. My family still won’t talk about it.
Sarah Whitlock Indianapolis, IN It is so frustrating to be around people who are discriminatory. I am tired of having to worry about offending someone because I make a comment that mentions their race or ethnicity. Such a comment is not a problem specifically because it is potentially negative, but because it mentions their race. [...]
Dre Kansas City, MO I am curious if you the responses your received while in PA and across the country differed at all by race, gender, or particularly age(generation).