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Like looking through a semi-opaque window.

Tony, Chicago, IL. I chose these six words because when it comes to race, it is like we are looking at each other through a semi-opaque window that shows an image without great detail. We use our own experiences and bias to fill out the missing detail.


Soul, compassion and intellect are color-blind.

Karl Maurer, New Lenox, IL. I love music. I particularly love American blues music, and am proud to serve on the board of The Blues Foundation, which is dedicatd to expanding the enjoyment and appreciation of blues music world-wide. What we love and enjoy is a big part of our identity. To the extent that […]

One Black Family On The Block.

Teena Lorie Harris, Chicago, IL Third generation native Chicagoan, product of public school and public housing. Purchased home in the Bucktwon / Wicker Park / Logan Square (West Town) neighborhood in 1997. Raising the fourth generation daughter in this mostly white community. My neighborhood was voted 4th, America’s Best Hipster Neighborhoods by Forbes.

Somewhere there is white like me

Francisco Jose’ Palomo Pratt, Oak Lawn, IL. I tried but failed to comment on a recacard. I’m a white Latino. I’m so white Mexicans won’t speak Spanish to me. My mother tans in the moonlight! But whenever I open my mouth to speak, all kinds of white people ask me where I’m from. I am […]


Stop thinking the phrase “Those People.”

Tom Woodworth, Chicago, IL. I was never a bigot (I would like to claim), but a disturbing epiphany came when I realized my troubled personal relations were much my fault, due to my blaming it on “how those people are,” overgeneralizations I just had, just absorbed somehow, somewhere, and never been caused to question before.


Met your daughter now it matters

Charles McCoy Owens, Chicago, IL. Throughout my life, both professional and private, white people who are friends have said to me that race doesn’t matter and that they see me as Charlie, a person just like everybody else. Interestingly though when I am the same age as their daughters or sisters and a friendship begins […]

where are you from

No, Where Are You Actually From?

Shagun Doshi, Naperville, IL. Coming from a predominately rich, white suburb, and not being rich and white has been an interesting experience. While there is a lot more diversity within my community compared to many others, there is still a lot of hostility. The divide between white and every other race is very prevalent; as […]

I won’t apologize for my ancestors

Anonymous, IL. Life is hard enough for everybody without guilting everybody for transgressions they had nothing to do with. My ancestors fought for the South, and they were poor white conscripts who starved to death in a prison camp. They didn’t care about race.


White Love Black, Black Love White :)

Ewa Konopka, Romeoville, IL. Look at this stunning couple. They see no color. THEY NEVER WILL. They see love, respect, honor, kindness, and goodness of each person. I wish the world would see through these kids eyes. The human race would be so much better of.


My daughter is not like me.

Bea Melnarowicz, Chicago, IL My daughter is bi-racial: her father is Spanish-French-Mexican, and I am Eastern European Caucasian. I am often told she looks ‘nothing’ like me, even jokingly by some of my friends. I am surprised each time I hear this considering the age and time we live in. The tone is rarely friendly, […]


Why can’t I just be me?

Charles C. Chatman, Hanover Park, IL. As a black man, I feel that when I enter a room, I must explain my reason for being there. When I go to work, I have to explain every decision I make. When I show interest in things that are obscure or not typical of the preconceived black […]

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Big-eyed Asian? Yup, that’s possible.

Sonyca Bermundo, Chicago, IL. I am an Asian born with really big eyes. It always frustrate me when people say, “All Asians have small eyes,” “You have big eyes for an Asian!” or “ Why are your eyes so big?” To be honest, I don’t understand why it’s a big shock to most people that […]

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“You’re pretty for a black girl”

Alexis, Minooka, IL. I hate when not just other races say this about black girls, but African Americans alone say this to individuals. I think it’s a insult honestly because what are black girls supposed to look like? Not pretty? Others may see it as a compliment but in reality it’s not. Beauty comes in […]


Too white to be Native American

Simone, Chicago, IL. A lot of people say I look too white to be Native American. It’s tiring that my mom is full Cherokee while my dad was full blown Italian, all my other bothers came out darker than me and had brown eyes, I am the only girl int he family. As far as […]

what are you

“So, what are you?” they ask.

Karen Gephart Altschul, Vernon Hills, IL. I was five, the first time I can remember somebody asking me that question. “What are you? Chinese or something?” Huh? Um, what are you talking about? I’ve been asked this question, “what are you”, on the first day at a job. A girl from China asked me if […]


You talk white. Where you from?

Kelli Watson, Chicago, IL. I grew up in a predominately white suburb in Chicago. We were the first black family to move to my block in 1987 and one of a handful in the school district. Around the age of 10 or so, I started to get this question over and over, “you talk white. […]


You are very articulate…gee thanks..

Lyonel LaGrone Jr, Urbana, IL. Over the last 17 years I have held a number of positions that have required me to give presentations on various topics across the United States. Often, when presenting to predominately White audiences someone will approach me after a presentation and offer up as a compliment, “You are very articulate.” […]

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Southern Belle? No. Korean husband.

Leah Lee (now Leah Durst-Lee), Chicago, IL. Keeping cultural heritage is very important to me, so when I married my husband, Sihyun Lee, I wanted our kids to have a Korean surname. Our first year and a half of marriage, I took my husband’s name and became ‘Leah Lee.’ It was awful! Almost everyone I […]

I didn’t know my first girlfriend was black.

Danny Zapler, Mount Prospect, IL. In hindsight, it is clear she is black. I knew about black and white people, but I just never saw her in racial terms. She was just the girl I liked in 6th grade. I only realized I was dating a black girl when a teenage boy on my block […]

Italian Boyfriend Uncomfortable Visiting Arizona Home

Mike McNamara Chicago, IL Especially in the non-winter months because he gets so dark. Growing up in Tucson, he was sometimes mistaken for Mexican, which makes sense when you look at him from afar. But only recently has he felt uncomfortable going home to visit his family based on that same mistake that people have […]

He exclaimed, “Ghetto Girl Makes Good!”

Laura Ann Lane, Chicago, IL. I was a paralegal at a large firm and the partners knew I was applying to law school. When a sicilian American partner found out that I was accepted to Northwestern University School of law he said, “The headlines will say, ‘Ghetto Girl Makes Good!” He meant that as a […]

No thanks man, I speak English

Manny DeVera, Gurnee, IL. A couple of my friends and I (all Filipino) were in San Francisco at the Golden Gate Bridge taking pictures when a white guy came up to us and said in HIS best impression of an Asian person ” You want me take picture” while making a camera motion with his […]

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Jami Tatum, Carol Stream, IL. ‘Blexican’ became my new name when everyone found out I was mixed with black, Mexican AND white! Of course the people calling me blexican were my best friends but they didn’t understand how I felt because they are fully white. When they called me that it made me feel low […]


Boy From America’s Heartland, Indian American

Rahul Iyer, Mesa , AZ. I graduated high school from Dixon IL, a small town halfway between Rockford and Moline, in the Northwestern part of Illinois. Dixon IL is a small town, and boyhood home of former President Ronald “Dutch” Reagan. Cornfields surrounded the town. I am the son of two medical doctors who practiced […]

This brown skin is my crown.

Lynette Neal, Chicago, IL. Many times as a brown girl, it’s hard accepting that this skin we are in is no less than the fair skin someone else may posses. As a young darker complected woman it is important to see other brown women wearing their skin with confidence and a head held high not […]


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 […]


I Don’t Get To Be Colorblind

Jenn M. Jackson, Chicago, IL. Every single day I am accused of “making things about race.” I’m told that I’m “looking for racism” in everything. I’m told I must lead a sad, angsty life since I can’t stop pulling the “race card.” I often get this feedback from Whites who feel uncomfortable when I note […]


I decide if I’m “black enough”.

Kelly Wickham, Springfield, IL. When I was born the white nurse told my mom that “mixed” wasn’t a category and she put “white” on my birth certificate, but my mother knew she’d be raising a child that the world would identify as black and she raised me as such.


We assumed their father was black!

Melissa Weir, Trout Valley, IL. We like to think that we are like every other family, whatever that means. But questions like “are those your real kids” or “what happened to their real parents” make that impossible. Nonetheless we are a close, joyful, and fortunate family.


It’s worse than you probably think

Amelia Ketzle, Carbondale, IL. I was at a Halloween party no more than two years ago, hosted by a girl I had lost touch with recently, when some new arrivals showed up. Everyone had been having a harmless, normal, good time, when this (white) couple came in carrying axes and machetes and covered in fake […]

I’m not part of the solution.

Marie Henehan, Sidney, IL. I’m European American Vietnam generation female grandchild of immigrants. I have not ever been an activist. If all white people were like me, blacks would not have such serious problems. So with a pat on my back, I have been complacent and uninvolved, safe in my well-off white bubble. _I’m_ not […]


Cautious eye-holding while saying hello.

Mark Loup, Williams Bay, IL. This is one of the reasons I’m glad I left Chicago, one of the most segregated big cities in America. The tension just seems to overwhelm intentions. I live near the resort city of Lake Geneva in Wisconsin, and while I’m sure there’s plenty of racism here, there’s less tension. […]


Is it because I am black?

Renee Yates, Evanston, IL. Being black in America means that every time you feel slighted or unfairly treated in the larger society you have to wonder “Is it because I am black?” It’s demoralizing and exhausting.

Leave the gun, take the cannoli

Isabella Fioretto, Park Ridge, IL. Many people assume since I am 100 percent Sicilian that I have relatives in the mafia. None of my relatives or people from our small town in Sicily are involved with the mafia.


Appearing strong. Mending daily. Race matters.

Anthony Charles Bradburn, Crystal Lake, IL. As a Dominican, it’s easy to get lost in nationality. The truth is I have a rich, beautiful Black line of people before me. I am honored to stand with them and cull their strength. The truth is I have white, Spanish Imperialistic blood in me. The truth is […]

Searching for a way to feel

Hadsim, Chicago, IL. Grew up in Detroit. 1970s. Did time in the Nation of Islam for 2 years. Father was discriminated against at work (thus the NOI). My mother just didn’t like white people. I’m was raised to hate them. And 40-plus years on, my parents’ anger left a residue that difficult to watch off. […]

Avery. Ate on the back porch.

Dee Abbate, Oakwood Hills, IL. Although I was raised in Chicago and my parents “were not racists” they fed our colored handiman leftovers for supper out on the porch behind our kitchen. That was in the 1950’s. The memory sticks in my throat today.


I’m not going to pick one.

Sierra Moore, Springfield, IL. The picture is one of me as a baby. Since my early childhood until now I’ve been encouraged by people close to me as well as acquaintances to identify myself as one race. I’ve also heard people guess what my ethnic background is (which no one has fully guessed correctly). They […]


What are you? White? or Italian?

Terri, Chicago, IL. Um…neither – Really. That is the first question asked by someone who had just met me. Really? That’s the first question you ask me? We really need to stop defining each other by one or two word descriptions and take a few moments to get to know each other beyond the generalizations […]


The difference is culture, not color.

Brenda Ward, Schaumburg, IL. The color of our skin has nothing to do with who we are. It is where we live, who raises us, our family traditions, our geography. We try to peg the differences on color because it is easier to see and understand and our lack of interest in exploring and appreciating […]


Treat all people with respect, kindness.

Sally Miller, New Douglas, IL. My doctor of 10 years is on the 9200 block of Ferguson. He is black, I am white. I go to the area 1-2 times per month and am always treated with respect. I always bought gas at the QT that burned down and was treated like an old lady, […]

“It’s because you have no soul.”

Anne Tobin, Normal, IL. Ever since I was thirteen, I’ve had to deal with the flack of my hair color. After South Park aired their “Ginger” episode, I hear ginger jokes every day at least once. When I enter a room or when I try and talk. “Shut up, Ginger.” “No one cares ’cause you’re […]


Afraid of Not Being “Asian” Enough

Gwyn, Chicago, IL. My Dad was born in Japan to a Caucasian Father and a Japanese mother. He moved to America with his father and siblings and unfortunately had to leave his mother behind. He no longer speaks Japanese, but he still holds his heritage very dear to him, placing various objects from Japan around […]


Who are your ancestors. Be honest.

Alison Bailey, Bloomington, IL. Yes. I’ve been able to find out who my 3d greatgrandmother is until recently. She was the bastard child of Joseph C. Van Mater, or “Big Joe,” as he was called. The Van Mater family were early settlers in Monmouth County, New Jersey. Big Joe was the largest slave holder north […]

Ilinois Grandfather fought South, Still There.

Joe Fricke Greenwood, IN My mother’s Great-Grandfather fought for the 121st Illinois Volunteers in the Civil War, was shot and killed in action against the Confederates near Resaca, Georgia. He is buried in an unmarked battlefield grave. I guess he gave his all for the cause too.

Black teen boys scare white people.

Tim McGovern, Chicago, IL. I live in a racially integrated neighborhood on the South Side of Chicago. You go to the playgrounds and there are kids of all races playing together, parents talking over coffee and bonding over the crazy things that four-year-olds do. The public school kindergartens, first grades, second grades, third and fourth, […]

I was stinky; I wasn’t afraid.

Lynne Shotola, Waukegan, IL. I’m a white woman. It was a Sunday night right after Ferguson. I had spent a host, sticky day doing chores. When I went to take the used cat litter out to the dumpster, I very obviously swerved out of the path of a black man. All I could think was […]

I don’t fear for my brothers.

Kari Pennington, Chicago, IL. I never have to worry that my brothers, my husband, or my white friends will be violently harassed, assaulted, or killed by the police, the court system, neighborhood watch vigilanties, or any other person or institutions. It happens so rarely to white men that those fears for their safety never keep […]


Not Racist, Not Privileged, Just White.

Francis Skony, Chicago, IL. Being an almost 40 year old man from Chicago, I’ve always grown up with a melting pot of friends, acquaintances, co-workers. I do not judge anyone by their race – I will have an opinion based on how some present themselves to the world. If you have no respect and no […]

Ghetto’s a place, not an adjective.

Damola Adebayo, Chicago, IL. It’s unfortunate how frequently the term “ghetto” is used so flippantly to describe undesirable, often “characteristically” African-American, aspects of culture. Makes me cringe every time I hear it.

I shouldn’t have to write this sentence.

Lindsay Svendsen, DeKalb, IL. This project is amazing, but I wish things like this did not have to exist in order for so many to open their eyes and their hearts. How we appear on the outside does not define who we are nor should it be the basis for any judgements.

What’s with this white guilt?

Kassie Rockford, IL White people bashing other white people for being white? I see, mostly on facebook, these extreme left wing people publicly displaying how white people are the reason for racism, only white people can be racist, all PoC are entirely exempt from any and all forms of racism! Yes, let’s blame whitey. You […]


I didn’t own any slaves.

David Murray Springfield, IL Racism is real – all around. Frankly, I am tired of being considered a racist just because I am a white male. I have a family history that had some slave ownership, but also those that worked (worked very hard – and died) to end slavery. Levi Coffin is ancestral First […]


Colorblind is still blind! Open eyes.

Amandilo Cuzan Chicago, IL Knowledge is power. Beyond the emotion we all benefit from studying the real history of race in America and the world. Too often we shy away from the realities of the European slave economy, Reconstruction, Eugenics, Jim Crow, and the current Prison-Industrial-Complex. Blind is blind no matter how you look at […]

My skin is not your accessory.

Michelle K. Chicago, IL Racist men who are interested in me solely for their “yellow fever”: my skin is not your accessory. Racist people who want to befriend me solely because they “loooove” my culture: my skin is not your accessory. Racist people who think being Asian is all about KPop and “kawaii”: my skin […]

Emmit Till died; OJ was acquitted

Roy Kutz Chicago, IL An innocent child pays a horrible price for presuming he can interact equally with white people a rich, famous man who interacts mostly with white people receives an undeserved dividend. Redemption is often unjust.