John Abraham, Grand Rapids, MI. Thanks to my Italian and Lebanese heritage, I am blessed to say I have a fairly full beard and curly brown hair. However, these two attributes have granted me two common nicknames: “Jesus” or “Terrorist”. I suppose I look like many modern-day depictions of Jesus and when I’m referred to […]
Ian Castruita, Tempe, AZ. I have a Scottish first name, am sometimes mistaken for Italian or Arabic, and was raised by my Mexican immigrant Pop and Scotch/French-Canadian Mom (who are both fluent in Spanish but never taught me or my siblings how to speak it). My half-siblings on my biological Father’s side are more strongly […]
Austa H., Sandy, UT. I got my dark hair, skin and eyes from my father’s Italian side of the family. However, I’m a gigantic mix of nearly every European nationality, making me much more Caucasian than Italian. Because of my overall brown-ness, I’ve been fortunate enough to personally see both sides of the “white privilege” […]
Sean, CT. I’m not proud to be white, because there’s so many different kinds of white and I’m not proud of my skin color, I’m proud of my culture. Sunday dinners. Seafood. Irish bread. That’s what I identify with, not the color of my skin. And to call me racist for that is complete shi*.
Alessa Abruzzo Philadelphia, PA Biologically I’m Korean. Ethnically I’m Irish-German-Italian. I was adopted at 4.5 months old, at which point I flew from South Korea to the USA and into the loving arms of my parents who happen to be white. To put it plainly, I was raised by white people – My entire immediate […]
Natalie Rossi Canton, MA I am 50% Irish, 50% Italian, and 100% Chinese. I am adopted, I live with a white American family. I am Asian and when we went to Flushing NY and I looked at the building beside me and saw all the Asians, I could not find myself. there was a sea […]
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 […]
Shaunta Whitaker, Lompoc, CA. I am a grandmother and I love being a grandmother but with it comes some heartache because of some of the stares I have to endure when I am out with my grandson. I am African-American with a dark brown complexion and my grandson is mixed with Mexican, Italian and African-American […]
Meredith Taggart, Portland, OR. I’m Italian and Scottish and otherwise a European mutt. I’m generally considered “white,” and look ambiguously ethnic. For me, the idea of race is all about a longing for a greater connection to my heritage. I never feel more connected than when making pasta. Learning the language, visiting Italy, making/eating Italian […]
Andrea Lopez, Sacramento, CA. When confronted with the question of whether or not I’ve experienced racism in my life, I always remember the first time I felt discriminated against. I was about twelve years old and I was meeting my best friend’s father for the first time. She moved to California from Georgia with her […]
Rachel Masilamani, Pittsburgh, PA. I was eating lunch alone in the break room on my first day at an office job when 3 of my new co-workers peeked in. “Are you Hispanic, or just Italian?” one of them blurted out. Neither, actually. This lady just laid down her line for White and Not White and […]
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, […]
Anna, Columbia, SC. I know I have “white” skin, but I really hate that word. I don’t think about myself as “white”. I am Italian and Czech. My dad was the first generation of my family to live in America. Our family wasn’t here for the Civil War, we didn’t enslave anybody. In fact, my […]
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. […]
Kelly M., Indonesia. My six words were spoken by my daughter when she was seven years old. I am From Texas, my family tree consists of Irish and English immigrants and Cherokee Native Americans. We generally look Caucasian, but all five siblings have slightly different skintones. I now live in Indonesia, I’m a single Mom […]
Stephanie, Marblehead, MA. My husband is of Italian decent and has dark features, such as brown eyes, black hair, olive skin. I am 100% Irish with light features: light brown hair, blue eyes and pale skin. Our oldest daughter shares the same dark features as my husband. Once while picking up a few thing at […]
Michele Warch, Georgetown, DE. My mom is English and Native American. My dad is Scotch-Irish and German. I speak Cherokee and read some Gaelic. I have dark hair and green eyes. Its a gift of my mixed ancestry. I have tattoos and ride a motorcycle. I also have a master’s degree and teach at the […]
Justin Banks, Mission Viejo, CA. It’s weird how simple hair and skin color can categorize humans into different ethnicities and cultural origins that might not define that person at all.
Adriana M., Canada. How about being the only-child black sheep of a Colombian mother and Irish/Ukrainian father? My mom could pass for Italian, but her Hispanic legacy is strongly expressed in me, all wrapped up in an Irish surname. I grew up without much diversity and didn’t even realise I looked different from everyone else […]
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 […]
Diana Gonzalez, Franklin Square, NY. I am an adopted person. I’ve been searching for my past all my life. I’m 60 now. One of my adopted parents was Austrian and one was Italian. I was raised to think of myself as Italian. In the early 1970’s I searched and found out I was born in […]
Emily Alfonso, Summerville, GA. Everyone thinks because of my last name, that I am hispanic. But I’m not, I am Italian, Irish, and French.
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 […]
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 […]
Lauren, Fairpoint, NY. I was required to do this for a MSW course on ethnic diversity. As a white, Italian-American woman, it was very difficult for me to think of an example of a racial micro-aggression that I have experienced. I have coarse, curly black hair. The statement was meant to be an insult.
Katie Rotondo, El Segundo, CA. I’ve been learning a lot about race and ethnicity lately. Looking back, it bothers me how many times I was asked what ethnicity I am, responding by saying I am Italian, and getting the famous saying, “But you don’t look Italian!” This is a daily response. Just because I don’t […]
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 […]
Nathan Smith Richmond, VA White is a generalization of what I really am. I am a quarter Cajun, quarter Swedish, and a quarter Italian, and a quarter of mixed up Western European races. VCU Focused Inquiry
Michele Deramo Blacksburg, VA Despite media depictions of Italian-Americans as criminals and buffoons, fewer than 1% have any connections to organized crime.
Max Haverhill, MA I’m an American with mostly German and Italian backgrounds. When the warmer months begin, I tend to get tanner than many friends of mine, likely because of the Italian background. I have been confused for other races in the past; there’s a photo in my home of me an my African-American cousin. […]
Keira Dodd Lakewood, OH My Italian grandmother came here in 1956 on the Andrea Doria, and my mother only knew one sentence of English (“I have to pee”) when she first went to school. She got called names and ostracized for her “otherness.” I remember that when I think of how different immigrant cultures are […]
ANNA GRASSI Cremona, Italy My husband ( German ) and I ( Italian ) adopted an Indian-born daughter. We live in Italy. It is not always easy to make people understand that we are a family: adoption and different skin colours make us “very perculiar”. Why did we parents choose a girl so different from […]
Amanda Kotyuk San Jacinto, CA My father was a cowboy, born and raised on the horse ranches of Melrose New Mexico. He was a mix of Irish, Italian and Cherokee. My mother on the other hand was Puerto Rican. Her parents and grandparents were born on the island, as was she. My skin is tan, […]
Robert Amore, West Hollywood, CA. NYC Born, High School North Shore Long Island, University Evanston Ill., Manhattan Resident for 20 years. Moved to Los Angeles in 2005. To my shock not once but at least 6 times asked the above question. Why anyone would be asked this question is disgraceful. Observing Race discrimination and prejudice […]
Mary Crescenzo, USA. I most always add a “human” box to check, or fill in the blank with “human” on such requests on forms.
Francesca Magno Portland, ME I come from a very large Irish/Italian family. We have traditions and ideals representative of different cultures. Yet, when people identify me I am simply a white girl. People do not view me as a mix of races. I could be any other ugg wearing, latte in hand, textaholic, but I […]
Rebecca Rodriguez Baltimore, MD This is a picture of my brother and I. Constantly he gets accused of being Arab, Mexican or Italian from Caucasians, “White guy” from African Americans, and Persian from Iranians. My story falls somewhere along the same line. We both grew up Latino (Guatemalan to be specific), and even then – […]
Amanda Fisher Riverside, CA My dad was 100 percent Italian. My mom is white with a little dash of American Indian. People never ask me about my heritage or my racial background. If I ever add my history to a conversation by saying, “I am Italian” people look at me and always respond with, “But […]
Valerie Sathe Brugeman MI
Barbara Rodriguez, Florence, SC. Yes, they both are Cuban. The look of shock never ceases to amaze me. Is it because I’m blonde and have green eyes…yes! Is it because of where I live…yes! Growing up in New York, everyone I knew could tell me about their heritage. My neighborhood was a perfect melting pot […]
Earnestine Simmons Las Cruces, NM The majority of Americans have foreign ancestors, but they don’t wear an identification tag of their great- or great-great-grandparents. They are not always referred to as “British-American,” or “Swedish-American,” or “Italian- American.” If nationality comes up at all, these people are simply “Americans.”
Briana Ciccarino Baltimore, MD “Are you Latina/Hispanic?” this is the question I often get when meeting new people. I appreciate the compliment and wish I was Latina, but I’m white. How can a white girl look Latina? Not sure. Like so many others, I am a mix of many heritages: I am Italian, Polish, German, […]
Cristina DiMarco Hatem Jamesville, NY
Richard Perez Bay Shore, NY I was born in North Kingstown RI and raised in Queens NY. Somehow, because I am Latino I am often not considered “American”. When I was a teen in the 80’s, I was actually told “Go back where you came from” by an Italian about my age at the time. […]
Elizabeth Norris Taylor Fernandina Beach, FL I have lived my entire life with people coming up to me and asking, “what are you?” For a while in college, I had some very clever comebacks… now days I simply shrug and say, “American, and you?” I have had people come up to me and speak Spanish […]
Gabriela Denise Frank, Seattle, WA. Despite being a Detroit native who grew up in Arizona, I was mostly surrounded by white kids like me during my childhood. Though my family is Jewish, I never experienced discrimination while living in predominately Christian communities. Even as an adult in Seattle, which is more ethnically diverse, I live […]
Katherine Fulton Chippewa Lake, OH My mother, father, aunt, grandmother and I have been mistaken for everything from Italian to Egyptian. When we tell the truth, reactions range from surprise to disgust.
Ann Sparanese Englewood, NJ
Paul Amellin Fern Park, FL
Kate Mack Allentown, PA Overheard when students at the urban district in which I used to teach were contemplating my ethnicity.
Richard Coccaro PhD. Clinical Psychologist Mountain View, CA I am first generation Italian. As a boy my father told me, “What a man has in his heart, is all that counts.” I have conducted racial healing groups and we explored our prejudices. It is important to know our prejudices so that we can prevent our […]
Tony Diaz Houston, TX Submitted via Twitter: @AztecMuse