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Two Arms, Two Legs, One Head.

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 […]

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Why do you have hazel eyes?

Jonscott Williams, Gilbert, AZ. This is the question either asked, or thought but unasked, by people both Black and White. This is connected to the assumption that one of my parents is White … neither is, though an early ancestor was. Some Black people have questioned whether I was “Black enough” … some Whites have […]

Identity is fluid; context is everything.

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 […]

I don’t see you as Black

Adrienne Crew Los Angeles, CA I’m always troubled about the concept of being an “Oreo” and not really projecting an “African American” identity but rather always being the upper middle class nerd that I was born and refusing to “code switch.” What is “Black” anyways? I get this comment both from whites and non-whites.

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Defined by race – who am I?

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, […]

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I am not defined by society

Justina Adarkwah Christchurch, VA I’ve always had a problem with identity, but ironically I realized it was me that thought I had a problem, it was society, my community, everyone else who had an opinion about ‘what’ I was and who I should be. I’m not sorry to let everyone one know that its not […]

Hybrid Asian identity disconnected from roots

Shen Lin Philadelphia, PA I’m originally from mainland China but spent most of my developmental years in Europe. After moving to the US I realized the extent to which people are able to connect so deeply with their racial heritage and express their opinions so freely in this country is enviable by the standards of […]

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I’m Black but NO-ONE believes me!

Kristi Webber Las Vegas, NV Growing up, there were several clues and incidents which occurred over the years which hinted at some sort of non-European ancestry in my mother’s background, and which would eventually lead to me pursuing her family’s ethnic roots. I had heard vague rumors of “Cherokee” blood but had long ago dismissed […]

My Race is a Collision of Shrieks

Senju Rajan USA My race is a collision of yelps, yips, of shrieks, Carnatic Punk Rock: Alan Vega smashing a raga over my head. I’ve been bombarded all my life, their immigrant hopes and dreams warring with my domestic aspirations, collateral between my shoulders, rubble strewn across shattered streets once paved with gold, now unrecognizable, […]

Black grandma, White grandpa. That’s weird!

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 […]

America’s minority education is in crisis

Alondra K. Poindexter Arlington, TX I am a doctoral candidate at Texas Wesleyan University. I am currently working on my dissertation “Cultural Identity and African American High School Teachers: The Impact On Their Instruction Of African American Students In Texas”. Less African American Teachers = Lower African American Student Achievement? Segregated higher academic achievement, integrated […]

Black, Mixed, Metisse, Exotic, Afropino, Fulatto

Christina Lewis Halpern New York City, NY The strange thing about race in the western world is the strong need to put people’s identities into boxes. I have a complicated identity, which led to people helpfully telling me what category I fit in, including making up some words to describe me. I’ve chosen to describe […]

NPR journalist to deliver Blackburn lecture

IN NEWS / BY EMILY WILLIAMS / ON APRIL 2, 2014 AT 12:00 AM / National Public Radio host and author Michele Norris will speak about race in America on Wednesday as a part of the Blackburn Institute’s Frank A. Nix lecture series. Norris, who previously hosted the NPR news show “All Things Considered,” authored […]

I’m not Japanese-American. I’m just Japanese.

Katie Hana Kuyama Northridge, CA I’ve always thought it weird to add “American” to my identity when my ethnicity is indeed Japanese. I’m a second generation Japanese living in America, but people always emphasize that because I live in America, I MUST add “American” to my identity. Not necessarily. In paperwork or community involvement, I […]

I’m Caucasian, therefore the assumed oppressor.

Casi Scheidt Carbondale, IL It’s come to my attention that, throughout my life, others sometimes assume that my racial identity as white means that I can’t or shouldn’t have input into racial issues. More than once, I’ve been confronted by individuals claiming that my whiteness means I’m inherently racist, and that I’m treating “their people” […]

Personal Identity Creates Community And Conflict.

Ty Pethe Seattle, WA For better or worse, we are social creatures that innately create groups of people like us. Whether it’s race, nationalism, gender, sex, ethnicity, economic class, sexual preference, religion, culture, age, sub-culture, political identity, philosophical identity, geographic identity, etc., we all tend to find value in our own (shared) identity. It tells […]

Biracial. Choosing everyone instead (of) no one

Sarah Seattle, WA Growing up biracial in a small, conservative, and rural town often left me feeling like I didn’t belong. No one could fully relate so I was shy and reserved. As I grew older, I realized that being biracial and bicultural is a gift that enables me to connect with a broad spectrum […]

See me, not just my skin

Jeffery J Jaekley Bolivar, MO Race matters. It shapes our identity, yet it is not the whole of our identity. There are elements that are common to the experience of any racial group, yet these are not universal to all members of that group. I’m bi-racial–white and Native American. Among whites, I’m often the darkest […]

Black ? No. White? No. Human? Yes!

Douglas Rice Fruita, CO I struggled for four decades to find some sort of racial identity…I’m bi-racial by my DNA, but having been raised in white culture where white people called me black I’ve never identified as white, and having been raised in white culture I didn’t “experience” black culture so I don’t Identify as […]

Samoan/Jewish – aka The Last Unicorn

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 […]

Blackness is your problem not mine

Victor Bradley Nashville, TN Often the discussion about racism is constructed as a problem with race. As if the problem isn’t with the majority’s racist attitudes, the problem is the existence of minorities. “I don’t see you as Black” translates as “I don’t see you as Black, because if I did, I’d have to either […]

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“You can pass.” Lifetime identity struggle.

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.

Identity Thief Blasian Sensation Lifelong Educator

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 […]

White American: No Culture or Identity

Lance Remington Stuart Rood Redlands, CA Sometimes I feel like I have no identity. White american? what is that? Irish? German? Dutch? Danish? I want to be able to identify with those around me. I love learning about people. Their heritage, traditions and culture. By knowing someones race or races I can then proceed to […]

Something other: ambiguous race, ambiguous identity.

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 […]

White mom of bi-racial child forgotten.

Peggy Person Cleveland, TN I have always been so disappointed in “America”, for labeling bi-racial, or mixed race children as one race or the other. I am a white woman, who has had to listen to society brainwash my child into believing that he can be accepted as “anything but white”. I raised him to […]

Not a Problem We Can Solve

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 […]

We don’t want your “White” America

Joel Wasinger Wylie, TX By all appearances, I’m “white” and I was raised in white middle class America. My biological father was Hispanic (my relatives on that side are mostly pale, like me). My dad, the man who raised me, is part Native American. My wife’s son–now my son–is black, technically mixed race. And there’s […]

When did borders start defining ‘race’?

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 […]

Hollywood reminds me everyday. I’m different.

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 […]

A costume I can’t take off.

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. […]

My children have no heritage day.

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? […]

What ARE you? I can’t tell.

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 – […]

Adopted. Raised as white. No identity.

Anonymous Kennewick, WA Being Latina, with a white name, but in knowledge of my Latino surname. I try to be supportive of my friends with their biracial and transracial adoptions, but it is so hard. I have suffered and struggled so much with my identity. People have such good intentions, but the children suffer. Then, […]