Black youth obligated to be intimidating

Brent Hixson Des Moines, IA Why is our culture so tied up in image? For a young Black or Latino to walk into a store with hood down and face fully exposed is perceived as weak. Actions must always portray power, in charge and make others around them uncomfortable and then ask the question why […]

Diversity is enriching but also frightening.

Elizabeth A. Leeper, Dubuque, IA. I am a 62 year old, single, white female. I was born in Pennsylvania, grew up in Asia, and now live in Iowa. Education level: Ph.D. I appreciate racial and ethnic diversity and experiencing different cultures, but I also understand the fear of the “other.”

Kids’ mother tongue isn’t their mother’s

Elise DuBord, Cedar Falls, IA. Growing up in the Midwest, I started studying Spanish as a second language in high school, fascinated with learning about other cultures and enchanted with the idea of traveling to or even living in a new country. As a middle-class white kid, I was completely unaware of the privilege I […]

I Carry Guilt Because I’m White

Brandie Bushee, Cedar Falls, IA. In our current times we hear about racism every day. I hate it. I’m not one to say “I don’t see race; I’m colorblind”, because to “be blind” to race is to ignore the problem of racism. But I am one to say that I love everyone no matter their […]

No English. Standardized assessment. No chance.

Katrina Des Moines, IA As an ELL teacher, this came from when I had to give a student who was new to the country from Vietnam an annual standardized assessment. She hardly new English, had been in the country for less than two weeks yet she was still required to take a standardized assessment in […]

Young Bearded White Male…ehh

Jedediah Stegman Polk City, IA No cause, no advocate, just white and male. So little to be inspired by, all our models or “heroes” are flawed and not what we were originally led to believe they were. We stay silent, and with our wives we live the middle road life. 2 kids, 2 cats, 2 […]

Please, Listen to my story first!

Clemen W. DSM, IA Many people look at me and/or hear my accent and immediately create a full story about me in their minds. They react and act according to what they’ve assumed about me (Based in their own stereotypes). Please, listen to my story first. You might be surprised with who I am, what […]

“Flesh color crayon: now “peach.” Hope.

John Calvin Miller, Fairfield, IA. “Flesh” color crayon: institutionalized racism revealed These both relate to an incident at U-Tapao Thailand where I served as Race Relations OIC during the Vietnam war. I helped design an embroidered Brotherhood patch for sale to airmen. When it was first being made, I went to the tailor shop to […]

Mon Dieu! Mais vous êtes blanche!

Shari Miller Polk City, IA My junior year of college, I was studying abroad in Paris, France. I had joined a gym while over there, and one day as I was returning from the common shower area with just a small towel to cover me, a French woman said loudly to everyone around her: “Mon […]

My brother is just my brother.

Sarah Jentz Le Mars, IA I am Caucasian and the biological daughter of my parents. My parents made the decision to adopt when I was 4-years-old. In case anyone is wondering, the coolest thing you can ever tell a 4-year-old is that her brother is coming on an airplane. My brother is South Korean, and […]

What beautiful children! Are they yours?

Kate Lechtenberg, Des Moines, IA. The statement is spoken as a compliment, and the question is asked with genuine curiosity and is often followed with qualifications: “I mean, are you their real mother? Their birth mother?” Together, these six words set off essays in my mind, essays full of my own questions, frustrations, challenges, and […]

Black friend ditched me under pressure.

Margaret Sullivan Decorah, IA In high school in the 60s my friend was told that she “knew too many white people” and that if she didn’t drop us her boyfriend would get the crap beaten out of him. To this day I’m not sure why her boyfriend was to be the victim.

Constant awareness is difficult but necessary

Mark Reiter Drake University Des Moines, IA I grew up in a very white Catholic community. I always understood that there was more to the world then what was in my community growing up, but there’s no way I could have anticipated just how different everyone’s backgrounds could be. It’s hard to always be aware […]

We’re all a minority of one.

Dan Rice, Ames, IA. As a 55 year old white guy in higher eduction I have been part of dozens of diversity awarness workshops. I teach and present on many subjects concerning diversity issues. After 2 dozen year of such activitiy I finally simply portray and live the fact we are all different – with […]

White is not a single race

Slaton Anthony Mount Vernon, IA My last ancestor came to America before 1800 all from England, France and Germany. My ancestors fought and died in almost every American war, I was raised in the Cookson Hills of rural Oklahoma and believed that I was part of the American white culture. While attending college in Oklahoma, […]

I was the only white teacher…

Alena, Des Moines, IA. I was the only white teacher in the City of Little Rock Early Childhood Center, a school partnered with Little Rock School District that hired certified teachers and had a great full-day program for young, inner-city 3 1/2-5 year old students from “the projects.” Many of my young charges had no […]

That’s My Husband! That’s Her Daddy!

Anonymous, IA. My mother had left the hospital to go home for a while, take a long hot shower,get fresh clothes for us both,and other little errands. Since I was a toddler of 3 or 4 years old I couldn’t be left alone in the hospital Pediatric Intensive Care ward,so my mother left my father […]

My kids are mixed. And me?

Amy Spencer, Kalona, IA. On Location: Drake University Sometimes when I look in the mirror, I think, ‘Dang, you’re pale.’ But inside, I’m mixed, because my husband and kids are a huge part of me.

Previouslly attractive, now obese. who changed?

Barry Allen, Cedar Rapids, IA. What I mean here is that when I was thin, (smoking cigarettes) doors were opened much more regularly & loneliness was not a problem. Now fat, (not smoking) the loneliness is at times unbearable. Am I not the same person? Obesity creates discrimination similar to that of racial or gender […]

They hate me because I’m WHITE

Eddie Savage Gilberetville, IA There are bad people in the world, black, white, brown. the color of your skin does not matter. I know I am judged being white and a cop. Racism no matter what anyone says is HORRIBLE and needs to end, but so does the hate children are taught from a young […]

African american boys like my booty

Wendy Stokesbary Cedar Rapids, IA I went to middle school with lots of African american students and noticed the boys seemed to admire my curvy figure- I was flattered, not frightened, because no one ever tried to hurt me. I grew up with a curiosity and respect for diversity, and partly because of my professional […]

So wish it didn’t matter still.

Sharla Yeutsy Urbandale, IA I’m a white 73 year old grandmother of seven who has always lived in the midwest. I am grateful that I grew up in a family that judged people by the “content of their character” I rejoiced when we elected Barak Obama two times as our president and am so pained […]

I dropped out! White flight city.

Theresa Fichter Council Bluffs, IA Council Bluffs, IA in the early eighties was mostly white. Middle class and drugs and alcohol was a problem in school. But, not as bad as pregnancies and bad administration, in schools.

Hometown never knew anybody unlike me

Scott A. Hall Adel, IA Growing up in a small Midwestern town the entire population of the town looked like me, acted like me, worshiped like me. It wasn’t really until college that I was able to truly experience diversity of culture, race, nationality.

No, really — I’m from Iowa.

Thi Thumasathit Palo Alto, CA I’m Asian-American. I was born in Thailand, but immigrated here when I was 3 months old so I speak perfect accent-free English. Since the age of 4, I grew up in Hull, Iowa, population 1,500. Invariably, I am asked (even in the Bay Area), “Where are you from?” After I […]

Unexposed, Growing up in Lilly-White Littleton

Amanda Horvath Des Moines, IA I grew up in a city just outside of Denver that has a nickname of Lilly-White Littleton. I never realized how “white” it really was until it was pointed out. Then I realized how we had limited diversity. I grew up with little diversity, but I am aware of the […]

I live with a black man.

Glenn Wilson Des Moines, IA And I’m white. Throughout grade school and high school, I never had a black classmate. I don’t know the “struggle” nor did I grow up near the rough areas of a large city. Nevertheless, my roommate of two years is black. So what’s the big deal? All I did was […]

Without skin, would we be equals?

Britta Solan Des Moines, IA Drake University Skin…why skin? Shouldn’t we judge by something more productive…kindness…ability to make a difference…what we can contribute… we are all hurt by this out dated system

Aunt Lucy would be ashamed

Kevin Potts, Des Moines, IA. Drake University Mankind is surprisingly homogeneous, having evolved from a common ancestor. Our distant relative ‘Aunt Lucy’, the Australopithecus Afarensis hominid, would be ashamed to see how much hatred exists within her ‘family’ on the assumed prominence of racial differences. That is, if her species had the brain capacity to […]

European American just doesn’t make sense.

Emma Croskrey Des Moines, IA Drake University During my senior year of high school we were filling out our College applications, and I remember I had this one friend that really wanted scholarships because she didn’t have a whole lot of money. Since her family moved over here from Germany she figured she could say […]

“White” isn’t a definition or race

Anonymous Des Moines, IA Drake University Asians get offended when you cannot tell exactly which ethnicity they are, and yet it is fine/appropriate to call us “white”? “White” is not a definition, and it is definitely not a race. If I am racist for calling every Asian I see Chinese, then everyone else is racist […]

To Understand, you have to listen.

Michael Wendlandt Drake University Des Moines, IA Current culture is so based on social media and on entertainment, that stereotypes are becoming more and more commonplace among the youth. Because of that, no one has taken the time to listen to issues about race in America recently, at least to the point where they deeply […]

Dad said, “You were here first.”

Joan Fumetti Windsor Heights, IA Traveling from our white Iowa world through the South in 1961 we stopped at a roadside food establishment. Dad went to get in line behind a black man, who started to give up his spot.. I didn’t understand at the time but I could feel that something significant had happened.

Where are you REALLY from? Nebraska.

Teresa Volcheck West Des Moines , IA I am a Korean adoptee, raised in central Nebraska. I do not have an accent. I had a Swedish last name growing up and now have a Czech last name. I often get asked, where are you from? I say, “Nebraska”. Then I get, “Really, where are you […]

White, but torn between many cultures.

Riley W. Marshalltown, IA I’m ethnically European and Turkish, but raised in a town with influential Hispanic and Burmese influences. I find myself thinking that culture isn’t about where you came from, but instead a blending of the different ways of being an American.

I am a man without a tribe

Varun Vajpeyi Iowa City, IA I’m part white part south Asian Indian. I have been confused with other ethnic groups, most of the time its by a white people and most of the time people of other groups will say no you are not Indian, Arab, Hispanic etc. I feel i really don’t belong to […]

Modern black culture mitigates successful opportunities.

Dean Morgan Des Moines, IA It is my belief that individuals who embrace a number of aspects of modern American black culture mitigate successful opportunties for themselves in our society. Modern cultural characteristics include children without fathers, gangster rap, educational indifference, or selecting for children multi-syllable African influenced first names. Admittedly, the lack of opportunities […]

Interracial marriage isn’t a bad thing.

Ryan Wilcox Urbandale, IA My parents moved my sister and I out of Milwaukee in the early 1970’s to avoid the repercussions of desegregation. We were very young at the time so we did not understand the reason for the move. Later on my siblings and I attended an inner city high school, Washington Park […]