Susan, Boulder, CO. I’ve been going through something of an identity crisis recently. I’m 31, of mixed race (1/2 Mexican and 1/2 a mix of European). Although my mom was born in Mexico and is fluent in Spanish, I wasn’t raised much in the culture because I grew up on an Air Force Base in […]
Rachel Brinson, Centennial, CO. People always want to put me in a box and assume what I find offensive, what I find familiar, and how I choose to see myself and others. No one chooses to see human first, identity second. I will forever be explaining that the body given to me is arbitrary, and […]
Ellis Clark, Spain. As a seventeen-year-old black male, my view to race has been cushioned by growing up in a comfortable, yet politically aware household. While I knew racism existed, it rarely touched me growing up, and when it did, it was the microagressive type. Real issues with race didn’t begin to pop up for […]
Brian Davis, Ph.D., Holland, MI. Holland New Tech High School, #newshps
Erica Jameson, Ashland, OR. My parents adopted five muti-racial children, something unheard of in the rural mountain town we lived in. Between being confused about being different, to occasional thoughtless racism, the line “You can pass [for white]” still makes me uneasy. Does this mean that I should want to? I still don’t know.
Scotty, Detroit, MI. Race is real. Sometimes, it is also necessary to play the role we are born into. Most of the time, however, we don’t need to look at the world through a racial lens. This causes judgement and suffering because of who we take ourselves to be. What you see, you cannot be. […]
Louis E. Perego Moreno, New York, NY. All my life, I have been out of more than one box. However, after wrestling with the subject for over 20 years, I have arrived at a point in my journey where my identity is defined by belonging to three worlds: Latino, Gay and USA. Many Hispanics in […]
Val’Dionna P., San Francisco, CA. Throughout the years it has been a bit difficult to understand the many emotions and stereotypes being of color and mixed. It is important to understand that how one is raised growing up in a complex world that continues to critique someone on the features or melancholy of their skin […]
Brisa Gardiner, Canada I am very confused about my identity and what parts of my background are “mine to use”. I was born in Mexico and lived there for my toddler years but I am only 25% Latin, with the rest being Scottish and Swiss. My mother, who is half Guatemalan, grew up in Guatemala, […]
Carmen Angelica Zapata, Santa Monica, CA. I lived in Spain for a year after growing up in the United States and for the first time I was not other. No one yelled “speak English!” no one asked if I was legal, or if I was going to be deported. It was the first time in […]
Sadia Rodriguez, Round Rock, TX. If I had to limit myself to a single identity, I’d say that I’m a mother of twins above all else. Sure, I’m also a business analyst, a blogger, a divorcee, a permanent resident of the US, a holder of British and Bangladeshi passports and a former US Army wife. […]
Leonard McReynolds, Atlanta, GA. I’m a black Puerto Rican who lives in the United States. At Times, it makes navigating race relations difficult, for everyone likes to put me in a box. Either I am not black enough because I speak Spanish, or not Puerto Rican enough because I am black. However, I will not […]
Zizi Greenberg, Los Angeles, CA. Your race is your race, yes. But you are your own person independent of your race -unless you choose to let your path be made for you.
Sheri Baxter, Washington, DC. Race and identity are things that are so essential and important to who you are as a person. But also it’s not. Because when we meet people, friend people, love people, help people, work with people….those who live without hate and bias do all of these things without any consideration of […]
Phyllis W. Allen, Fort Worth, TX. I am a sixty year old woman who has lived through segregation, integration, Colored, Negro,, Black, African American, segregation, marches, integration, Pan Africanism, opulent consumption, financial catastrophe and now I’m just me.
Michel Bassadon, White Plains, NY. I was born in Morocco. My mother was Austrian and my father Jewish Moroccan, known as Sephardic. In high school some of my peers said my accent was French, others said it was Spanish. They decided I was from Monaco, especially since my first name was French. For a long […]
S. Dreyfuss, Novato, CA. Sometimes I call myself The Last Unicorn, after the silly 1980’s movie about a unicorn, the only one of her kind, that goes searching for evidence of others. Growing up with the unusual combination of Samoan/Ashkenazi Jewish, I’ve always wondered if there was anyone else out there like me. Any single […]
Rena Joy Dunbar, Eugene, OR. Our Black and White bi-racial identity was questioned even before we emerged from the womb. What ‘race’ would we turn out to be? Which ‘race’ would we choose? These questions and the dual nature of our identities continue to challenge perceptions.
Kaitlin Reed, Poughkeepsie, NY. I am a Yurok Indian. We are the salmon people and my ancestors have lived by the Klamath River in northern California since time began. But after centuries of continual sexual conquest against Native American women, I am not the color of Pocahontas. That’s right, I’m white-skinned and Indian. This hasn’t […]
Latoya Baerlocher-Turner, Newport News, VA. It’s fun watching people attempt to imagine my face from my name. My first name is notably of African American origin, but my last name tells a different story, so people don’t know what to expect. And it’s always the same vice versa when people who’ve met me, learn my […]
Megan Medrano, Houston, TX. Growing up Latina in south Texas, I have always been surrounded with rich culture. My home was filled with both the English and Spanish language and I was encouraged to live both my Mexican and U.S. Latina identities. I did not realize how important an ethnic identity was until I came […]
Anonymous Athens, GA Centuries ago, on the Horn of Africa, where my parents originated, Arabs crossed the Red Sea then crossbred and/or raped the indigenous Africans. This event has confused generations of “my” peoples’ sense of identity. I pose the question to my mother, “What are we?”, to which she responds, “Look in the mirror. […]
R. Flowers Rivera, McKinney, TX. The most aware I’ve ever been of race was when my family moved from Gulfport, Mississippi, to New Fairfield, Connecticut, during the 1980s. At that time, New Fairfield was a town with a population of about 10,000 in which there were three Black children, all of whom were in my […]
Rosita Gonzalez, Madison, WI. I am not who I seem. Roads converged to make me a person of three races, of which only one sticks. My children only identify with the one that sticks. But I cannot tell them much about that race that defines them. I blog about it to examine and heal both […]
Kristen Ellerbe, Richmond, VA. As a mixed child, I have never felt at home with any culture. My mother was born in the Philippines and my father was an airman stationed there. They are wonderful parents who are absolutely in love with one another. I am one of three children, the middle child and only […]
Chuy Benitez, Houston, TX. When you grow up at the collision of two countries, of two cultures, of two identities, you learn very quickly the different nuances between the two cultures and you adapt to appease whichever culture you have to encounter. It makes you more observant, but of course it doesn’t occur without making […]
Jonathan Aaron, Owings Mills, MD, As a Jew, I have always been intrigued by how Hitler twisted Jewish identity, indicting Jews as having bad blood and thus being an impure race requiring extinction. In the summer of 2015, I visited Berlin and discovered a fascinating art exhibit that challenged people’s notions of identity and asked […]
Anon Ymous Charlotte, NC “Replaced slavery chains with entitlement chains” As a white with guilt, all I can say is: I’m so sorry, twice…
Hisham Jabim, Reston, VA. I am a Muslim borne and raised in Palestine. I am married to an American woman name Rebekah and we have a three year old daughter Hanna. My wife and I lived in the middle east together for almost 10 years and now we moved to Northern VA. Bekah is a […]
Elizabeth, USA. In the novel Invisible Man, a black man in 1930s America struggles to find his identity. He starts out as hopeful and naive, believing that his hard work, determination, and intelligence will lead to eventual success and happiness. He does not realize, until the end of the novel, that the white characters and […]
Flora Griffith, Omaha, NE. I was eight years old when I first began to feel like an outsider. My school was very segregated, white people hung out with white people and black people hung out with black people, ect. I felt alone, I was never truly accepted into the black, white, or latino communities. The […]
Walter Harris Gavin, Sarasota, FL. Walter Harris Gavin is the author of The Autobiography of Obsidian Dumar, a novel of identity and creator and producer of Race Across America: Inconvenient Truths, Uncomfortable Conversations a web series if visual essays.
Tomas Sanchez, Forth Worth, TX. It’s so easy to choose any single part of you to define your identity. When you have more than one, they all become just details.
Katy Carpenter, OH. I recognize that we don’t live in a color blind society, but race is never something I felt was central to my identity, and has no biological base. It never came up until I moved to the Bay Area and people started associating this idea of whiteness as a central component of […]
Yesenia Chavez, Houston, TX. I’m a first generation Mexican- American, born and raised in Houston, Texas. Sometimes it feels like I’m too in between both identities to really feel like I’m either. My Spanish isn’t perfect and sometimes I forget words in English.
Daryn Crowell Denver, CO I am a US citizen but my family moved to Peru when I was two years old. Basically my whole childhood was in Peru. I grew up with much of society telling me I could not consider myself in any degree Peruvian and that I was from the U.S. However, in […]
Janine D Herrera, Rancho Cucamonga, CA. When beginning this exercise, I almost regressed back to my old thinking habits. I came up with the six-word phrase, ‘English language no Spanish still Mexican.’ However, I realized I was going back to what I was delivered from. I used to struggle with my identity. I am Mexican […]
Jazmine McKinney, Winter Garden, FL. Yes, I am black. No I am not angry. I actually smile all the time, and I get odd looks because of it. I guess I don’t act like people think black girls should act? Yes, I love Disney. I honestly don’t like rap music all that much. I love […]
Jessica Eaton, Minot, ND. My maiden name is “Hess” and carries a lot of weight for being a “Nazi name”. Growing up, other students in school would call me a “Nazi” because of my last name and distant relation to a couple of people who took part in the Nazi regime. I didn’t like it, […]
Jesse Ponnambalam, Bolingbrook, IL. When I see most of the people I know; they all somewhat fit into a specific group. Some may identify as a “skater”, a “Anime Nerd”, a Brony, a “Jock” a “set specific identity here” kind of mold. Now I know that people have more than one Identity, But I never […]
Raquel Diaz, Miami, FL. I’ve used this protocol in workshops before and it was quite reflective to see that I identify with being Cuban (cafe con leche) American (side of bagel). I am proud of my Cuban parents leaving behind everything to give us a better future in America. I love being Cuban American!!!
Rebecca Hassine, Palo Alto, CA. With racism being such a prominent issue throughout the world, especially within the United States currently due to the hostile political atmosphere, I always feel as though I need to defend my race. Defending my race, in other words, is like constantly needing to defend my identity. No one should […]
Jeremy Martin, Cincinnati, OH. My 7-year-old daughter about the only African American girl on her cheer team. How do we move past skin color as an identity, even for children?
Mary Rodriguez, Carmichael, CA. True question asked of me by my very first crush. I remember this time vividly. I was in science class and across from me was the “love of my life”..it was 6th grade. I was really excited to work with him, and when he looked at his friend then back at […]
Autumn Segrest, Highland Heights, KY. As a white woman from suburban America, it can be hard to understand the struggles of the countless people who were not born into whiteness. Their experiences with racism and prejudice shape their identity as much as my privilege shapes mine. But through education, whether it be traditional schooling or […]
When I entered high school, I quickly learned terms like white privilege, white fragility, and microaggressions, which challenged my identity. While I understood I benefited from white privilege, I did not like the label. Still, the racism embedded in our institutions and the frustrated feelings of my friends motivates me to want to be part […]
Dana, San Antonio, TX. Around the world, my white skin and my blonde hair make me easily identifiable as an American. This superficial categorization has lead me to wish that people took the chance to get to now me for who I am, rather than making assumptions about my character. In return, I challenge myself […]
Clara Chun, Los Angeles, CA. I’m a Thai-Chinese, Korean, White girl. It’s about as confusing as it sounds, but I refuse to not acknowledge a single part of my identity. Because all of it exists.
Ryann Williams, Trinity University In a lot of ways, having two parents of different racial/ethnic backgrounds allows a unique insight into both cultures. It can be extremely enlightening to see how both sides can be so different and yet so similar at the exact same time. However, there is always this feeling as if I […]
Back when I was a kid, I used to wonder why or how people are different, why do we all have different races? When I was in preschool, my mom would always tell me not to play with kids that were bad. Those kids were black. She said that they were troublemakers, misbehaved, and that […]
Christi Perkinson, Red Wing, MN. My mom is full blooded German so I’ve always known that I was half German, but the other half was a mystery. My dad’s side is quite the mystery. His Father was born in the south while his Mother was born in Canada. Both sides came over to the U.S. […]
Amber Nicole Gutierrez, Hemet, CA. Everyone grew up with a different life-style, just because I look of Mexican decent does not mean I am the same as every Mexican stereotype. I am an American and have grew up in the middle of both worlds of “American” and “Mexican”. I understand Spanish and speak some. I […]
Madysen Phororo, Corona, CA. South African dad, and white mom: I’m pretty ambiguous in terms of my race. There were questions I got in high school along the lines of “Do you think you’re more white or black?”. My mom was told that I’d have to choose what race I was when I went to […]
Cayla Olson, Duluth, MN. I have always felt that I had to qualify my racial identity with those six words. I am part native, my mother being Ojibwe and French, and my father being Oneida and Irish. We lived on my mom’s home reservation, and it was never any mystery to me as to what […]
Amanda Baran, Arlington, VA. “No, I’m not Mexican. Nope, not Latino. I’m an American who’s half Syrian and half Indian. Well actually, my father’s former nationality was Syrian. His parents were refugees from Turkey who were expelled during the Armenian genocide. No, they weren’t Armenian, they were Christians who were forced out and into Syria […]
Weston Mui Bellevue, WA I’ve always felt white, yet to my friends, I’m Asian. My racial identity is often confusing, even to myself.
Christina Mayes, Richmond, CA. The constant revolving question in my life is, “What are you?” Let’s take care of this question now. My father is Peruvian and my mother is Irish-Italian. My father left when I was three, so for most of my life I felt like he left me with no culture or language. […]
Sabrina Fairchild, Canada. I’m a little disconcerted by how negative this sentence sounds, but it seems to accurately reflect how I’ve been characterized all my life. I’m trying to find new ways to describe myself (as biracial, as Eurasian) that provides a single, coherent identity.
Alfida Cruse, St. Louis, MO. Growing up half Dominican and half Missouri German (white) constantly left me feeling not white enough for the white kids and not Dominican enough for the Hispanic kids. I have been called out and subsequently shunned when my mother picked me up from school in Arlington, VA (“you’re WHITE?!”) and […]
Carlos, Beloit, WI. What does an American Look Like? The real question is, “what was the intentional look of an American.” America is a history of exclusion and Labor needs. Immigration laws were molded in exclusion, but the need of minority work has changed what an Americans looks like. For they were part of responsibility […]
Ian Peterkin, Bridgeport, CT. When you think about it, what do you know of the achievements of black Americans other than what you get in February? Virtually everything I’ve learned about black art, literature, culture, and religion, I learned on my own. Cut off from one’s cultural identity, point of origin, and the stories that […]
Karen Plascencia, Los Angeles, CA. Our last names have a lot to disclose about our identity, but often times it is a gateway to preconceive notions of what we should look like and who we must be.
Epifanio Rios, Philadelphia, PA. My name is Epifanio, I am a fourteen year boy who attends the high school SLA. I probably know as much about race as the next guy but I think race is perceived differently by everyone. To me I think race can’t only be defined through your skin tone but were […]
Sarah Naomi Burnett, Norristown, PA. Being a ‘white’ girl raised on the border of Mexico the ‘race-card’ issue was raised daily. I always felt that if I was a color, and they were a nationality, those two identifiers didn’t quantify either of us equally. I had a culture at home that was Irish/Italian but where […]
Molly Lai, Milford, NH. I was terrified of travelling as a child because I hated people asking if I was adopted. Or the more frightening question: Is this woman really your mother, you can tell me the truth? I am half Chinese (and looked more Chinese than English as a child) with a red-haired, blue-eyed, […]
Mason Colquitt, Athens, GA.
Katie R. Phillips, Green Mountain, NC. I might be white, but growing up in the Southern Applachians is definitely its own ethnic identity. I didn’t truly understand this until I went to college, and brought friends home with me for the first time. One of my friends actually asked me if my family was inbred […]
Jennifer Wong Cernak, Chester, MD. I have been listening to your race-card stories for a long time and heard the topic of mixed race come up again and again. In the past identity has been a struggle for me, but now I feel comfortable with who I am. There were many days, growing up, I […]
Deborah Gonzalez Carmichael, CA My daughter identifies herself as a Jew + Cuban + American. Being a Jew is more than a religion; it is an ethnicity, and per Hitler, a race. And for some reason “Cuban” has its own box to check on the U.S. Census; not Latin American, Caribbean, Hispanic etc. I’m not […]
Heather Thompson, San Francisco, CA. While travelling to Mexico for one week, 5 separate people asked me if I was Cuban, 1 asked me if I was Portuguese (including one American!). I speak beginner-intermediate level spanish, but am Biracial (black, white, and a smidge of Native American). My white friend travelling with me was not […]
Natalia Lopez, Los Angeles, CA. Growing up in East LA and being told I was one of the “good children”, I played into the identity that I was and will always be an exception to my peoples inferiority. Striving to be more like the white girls I saw on television made me feel like I […]
Seema, Chicago, IL. Women already have identity issues because of an extreme and over-sexed image of women in Hollywood. Additionally, women of color are marginalized because of their under-representation in TV, movies, magazines and advertising. As an Asian-American woman, I see very few Asian men and women and when I do see them, we are […]
Aida Verri, New Orleans, LA. You are not ugly, pretty, stupid, smart, strong, weak, violent or calm because of your “race”. Your skin color isn’t your race, isn’t your culture, isn’t your identity.
John Coffman, Rocklin, CA. I used to believe that we all were heading somewhere. As a kid I loved Star Trek: The Next Generation, a TV show about a future where humanity had progressed to a point where all cultural/religious/racial/political/financial/identity barriers had been dissolved and everyone (except for those less “evolved” alien races) was able […]
Gregory, Philadelpha, PA. As a Polish immigrant in America I have been faced with many challenges, but one that has always seemed most challenging and bizarre was issue of being white and being treated by others as a minority. As long as people didn’t hear my accent I would fit in, but once my identity […]
Zoë McLaughlin, USA. Waiting in line for the Chinatown bus in New York City, a man approached me and began speaking Spanish. I squinted at him and briefly pondered my response. This was not the first time someone has expected me to speak Spanish. As soon as I began making forays out of my predominantly […]
Josh Benjamin, Philadelphia, PA. Almost nobody ever guesses me to be a black-white mix. This has led to numerous identity issues for me in the past. Now, however, I feel blessed and enjoy my background without calling attention to it.
Kelly C, Los Angeles, CA. My husband is Japanese and I look “white” though I don’t really know what I “am” because my father was adopted. Our kids are wonderful, beautiful, happy pre-teens. Growing up in a diverse and inclusive place, they have friends from a variety of ethnicities, religions, and social classes. But in […]
Lora M. McManus, Altadena, CA. Plain and simple. No ifs, ands, or buts. “What if you just haven’t met the right guy?” No. “And where are you really from?” No. “But you’re a woman…” No.
REPOST FROM: KPCC December 17, 08:21 PM Abbie Fentress Swanson | KPCC After 13 years at NPR, Michele Norris is dropping the microphone. The longtime public radio personality and former “All Things Considered” host says she is leaving NPR at the end of the year to focus on growing The Race Card Project, which she […]
Steve Harris, Honolulu, HI. As a Caucasian looking individual in Hawai`i many people make assumptions about who I am, what I’m about and where I’m from. It’s taken me years to fully acknowledge my identity as a secular Ashkenazi Jew. I grew up with much anti-Semitism and the tendency to hide behind my “White” exterior. […]
Cassandra Coats, El Cajon, CA. I grew up in a very multi-cultural school where being white was the minority. I was never teased for it, but I felt like I was missing out. I spent most of my childhood wishing I could be Asian, or Native American, or speak Spanish, etc. Sure, I have red […]
Julie Taeko, San Francisco, CA. Writing a book called “Good Morning, Mixed-Race America!” to highlight the stories of 12 mixed-race individuals who are part-Asian, millenials and loving life! Checking All the Boxes & Embracing Our Own Unique Multi-Cultural Identity.
Joy Owopetu, Manassas Park, VA. What does this even MEAN? I have heard so many times that I sound like a white girl from the valley. It has caused me to experience unfriendly behavior from coworkers who thought I wasn’t “black enough” and I have gotten outright laughed at in public by ignorant individuals who […]
Jamie Lee Myers Jacksonville, FL Many people seem to identify who they are by their race. We also all seem to have a tendency toward making assumptions based on how people look. I am fair with naturally red hair that is currently blonde. Most think I am Irish and that is in my family tree, […]
Brian Murray, Seattle, WA. Growing up it was always hard to find my own identity because I came from a bi-racial background. I am half Black and half Japanese and always had problems being accepted by either racial group because of my uniqueness. Although coming from a low-income housing development called the Rainier Vista Projects […]
Janetta Stringfellow Brookline, MA Tons! Grew up in Cape Elizabeth, Maine in the ’70s with a white mother who denied I was adopted. Found my birth mother when I was 31, who is also white, but at least had a story about a Kenyon grad student she hooked up with on her 18th bday in […]
Anonymous, Knoxville, TN. I’m from the Mountain South, where white privilege and racism take on a range of meanings outside the mainstream. I’ve heard our regional identity described as a kind of “otherized whiteness,” and I think that’s about right. Whatever else we were, we always knew our whiteness was the wrong kind. That’s what […]
Claire Berman Boston, MA I am a white woman and didn’t begin to understand my racial identity until I was in my late twenties. The more I learn about racism and its intersection with other systems of oppression, the more I realize how little I know and how far we have to go. So now […]
Andrea Alexander, Rochelle Park, NJ. The constant dilemma of “boxing” your identity when your category is not among the selections.
Bettina Sferrino, Oakland, CA. As a mixed race person, I get these questions all the time. The persons asking have a strong desire to know and place the “other,” and a feeling that somehow the persons asking these questions can’t move forward interacting with me without knowing that information. I can’t help but think for […]
Catherine Kehl, Cleveland Heights. OH. When we divide ourselves into “us” and “other” we don’t only lose the other, we lose ourselves. I was twenty-seven before I realized that my mother sometimes spoke to me in Spanish not because she’d picked some up in college before travelling in South America in her twenties, but because […]
Allen Greiner Lumberton, MS I had to spend time on a battlefield to finally see where we as a race were headed. It amazes me now, that that was what it took to rearrange my priorities. Scary how hardheaded we are as a species.
Ana Canino-Fluit, Penfield, NY. I am Puerto Rican, I lived in Puerto Rico till I left for college at 17. Till I was 16 I had never given much thought to racial identity. My senior year in high school I was selected to be a exchange student to our sister school in southwestern New York […]
Myriah, Arlington, VA. All my life I’ve gotten the “what are you?” question. It seems to be human nature to try and categorize people in order to identify them better somehow. Being French Creole and Sicilian, I have always loved being racially ambiguous, because my identity goes way beyond man made categories. I am physically […]
Mac Los Angeles, CA My children grew up in southern California and attended fabulously diverse schools that frequently featured “Heritage Days” where the school children were encouraged to wear clothes, and bring in food and other articles representative of their ethnic background. From their earliest years, my kids found this confusing. What were we anyway? […]