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Kofi is a fake white man!

fakeKofi M. G. W. Opantiri, Los Angeles, CA. I am the eldest child of two boys and a girl born to an American-African father and a French-Canadian (white) mother. Born in New York City in 1949, the “one-drop” rule informed me early on that I was Negro and colored. Like millions of American-Africans, I became […]

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? […]

No B’s in an Asian Family

Jessie Blakely Los Angeles, CA I was raised in Hawaii, where there really isn’t such thing as a racial stereotype. Hawaii kids tend to be so ethnically diverse, that any stereotype today may apply to up to 1/2 of their bloodline, but rarely more. When I moved to the mainland to go to college, I […]

Empowered Latina recovering from self hate

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 […]

Saddened, inspired, still far to go

Jeff Schaffer Los Angeles, CA Seeing this exhibit reminds me of the sacrifices made by our predecessors, and inspires me to continue working for a world in which all are cherished for their diversity, and there is equal opportunity for all.

I can’t find Home… Found it!

Mari Pollack Los Angeles, CA Joy was adopted at the age of 11 from an abusive home in Korea into a loving family in California. Now a rebellious alcoholic in her 20s, she is homesick for a home that doesn’t want her and unable to feel truly a part of her adoptive family. She returns […]

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Adobo Beef Stew Rice Potatoes: Dinner

James Estanislao Herr, Los Angeles, CA. Dad’s side came over in 1717–Swiss-German and Irish with some Danish and Greek thrown in. Mom came over in 1954. Filipino, Spanish and Chinese with I guess some Portuguese somewhere along the way given my middle name. Grew up in an all white community outside Philadelphia. Not sure who […]

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Witnessing people confusing anecdote with fact

Deborah Robinson, Los Angeles, CA. I grew up in profoundly white Eugene, Oregon, where I’d laugh at banners emblazoned, CELEBRATE DIVERSITY. “What, as long as it’s not here?” I’d wonder. Yet the whiteness of my hometown did not mean it was a racially hostile one. I nurtured no ill will for folks from different walks […]

My parents think you are white.

Jennie, Los Angeles, CA. I am 4th generation Chicana. My mother is Mexican-American and my father is White. One of the saddest things is to be rejected in relationships or see as different from your significant others’ family. I find that Mexicano families do not understand the history of Mexican-Americans. Someone I dated pointed out […]

It’s easier to say I’m White

Laura Pierson, Los Angeles, CA. I am Native American, Mexican, Spanish, English, Germany, and Irish. I was raised by a single mom that is Native American, English, German, and Irish. I didn’t know what being a Mexican meant or was like and I’m still trying to figure it out. As a child, I told people […]

I’m American – where’s my checkbox?

Blair White Haddad, Los Angeles, CA. Being the child of an adopted mother, for a long time I only knew half of my genetic make up. After being reunited with my bio grandmother we discovered our Native American/ French background. My whole life I’ve been asked the question- what are you? Instead of identifying myself […]

Being bilingual is not a disadvantage.

Angie Cruz, Los Angeles, CA. As a person of brown skin color and Latin heritage, I am often spoken to in Spanish by strangers with the assumption that I only speak that language. It can often be demeaning when people assume that because I have a culture different than the “majority”, I am automatically categorized […]

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I don’t understand why race matters.

Jennessa Cairo, Los Angeles, CA. I believe it’s important to know who we are, and to learn and respect our cultures all over the globe. But growing up I never saw race, I just saw people as equals. Sometimes I just don’t understand why is matters to people.

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Girl, you got that good hair.

Clare Norris-Bell, Los Angeles, CA. In the Black community, hair has been been a measurement of one’s value for generations. In the African-American culture, “good” hair refers to hair that is not kinky or not what is pejoratively called “nappy”. It is hair that is closer to the texture of people in parts of the […]

My eloquence should not surprise you.

Angie Cruz, Los Angeles, CA. The fact that I am a Latina should not make you assume I am not intelligent. I am college educated, I am well-spoken, and I have undergone experiences that have created a foundation for my intellect and my ability to communicate. Don’t be surprised because I can use “big words”.

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Invisible Black woman, microscope on me

Devin Horton, Los Angeles, CA. My race card refers to conundrum of my experience and my physical self being essentially invisible but also having the world simultaneously watch and critique my every move with microscopic precision. It can cause serious anxiety.

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Yes, I was born in Detroit.

Amanda Nelski, Los Angeles, CA. People like to put other people in boxes. “Where are you really from?” they ask. I used to answer Detroit. When they asked where my parents are from, Detroit was not suitable either. “You don’t look like you’re from Detroit.” After some banter I would eventually confess my lineage is […]

Unwillingly passing, race card isn’t mine.

April Faye Weathers, Los Angeles, CA. I’m light skinned and have always felt self-conscious about my skin tone. Growing up, my white mom taught my brother and I to be proud of our black identity and feel comfortable in our own skin. She embraced our father’s culture and made it part of her own, blending […]

I’m 50-50, they only see black.

Autumn Battani, Los Angeles, CA. People only identify me as black. And that doesn’t make sense to me. Even when I was little, and we would fill out forms for tests, I would ask my teacher what I was supposed to do. The papers always said you can only choose one, but I’m two. And […]

Being black is akin to cancer

Kalea Deutsch, Los Angeles, CA. That’s how I see it. I am a product of a black father and a white mother. Being black has brought me zero benefit. It is instead a negative label I am burdened with. It is the realization that I, as a partially black woman, am labeled as largely undesirable […]

Yes, white skin, and still Mexican

Judee Fernandez, Los Angeles, CA. I am a white looking Mexican woman born in Los Angeles to immigrant parents who are brown and proud. Yet all my life, I’ve been asked questions about beauty and my look, more than anyone has asked me about what I know and my experiences. The other day, I went […]

“He’s so cute! What is he?”

Adrienne Karyadi, Los Angeles, CA. I think of this as a supermarket check-out line experience: I’m waiting with strangers in some kind of line, and they notice me with my son. My son tries to engage them and they respond. And then they start wondering: what ethnicity is he? because he doesn’t look like he […]

We begin at different starting lines.

Ben Sheehan, Los Angeles, CA. Georgetown Day School Equality of opportunity can only happen when humanity at large recognizes that certain people are born with certain racial, cultural, and economic privileges. Once we begin to acknowledge that, we can start closing the prevailing opportunity gaps. We have to acknowledge that the reality exists before we […]

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Being Brown Makes Me Look “Hood”

Victor Vega, Los Angeles, CA. What troubles is on his mind? What’s he hiding from the camera? What’s in his jacket? That’s what I think when I see a picture of mine taken from several years back. If a white person was wearing street attire, one might think he’s cool, trendy, or might not even […]

Relief, family pride, and then hope

Joy Los Angeles, CA Looking into my family history, at first I found relief at finding no record of slave ownership, even among ancestors in the South. Was it just because they could not afford to buy slaves? But then I found a transcript of a sermon my great-great grandmother’s brother gave at a church […]

White men run errands too

Michael Kelley Los Angeles, CA I am a White man and when I am out running errands, some Black or Hispanic person will invariably ask if I am the Police. It’s funny that they still think it even though I grew my hair out because I got tired of being asked this question.

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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Bi-racial daughter draws Black self portraits.

Malika Los Angeles, CA Our daughter began to draw what she saw in the world very early. She wakes up from vivid dreams, grabs a sheet of paper and illustrates the thunder and lightning, fairies and wizards, monsters and princesses from her nighttime imagination. Having grown up in America as a woman of African ancestry, […]

Wow! You’re so articulate!

S Woods Los Angeles, CA This is something often said by White people to Black people, when they are amazed that the Black person is able to communicate effectively using Standard American English. As if we all speak like a character from a Black face film. Its degrading. And, it’s one of the ways in […]

I’m more than a basketball player.

Michael Erike Los Angeles, CA Black….if I’m still in school at this age I must be an athlete right…wrong. There’s more to any race than what meets the eyes. I don’t go around judging others by simply how they look so do I deserve that treatment? Life is a colorful depth of inspiring beauty, strength, […]

She’s so pretty, is she mixed?

Carla Los Angeles, CA This comment is what I often heard from many people, including my own regarding my daughter from birth until about 8 years of age. I believe people actually thought they were complimenting her and maybe even me….someone who is for the most part unmistakably of African ancestry. Sometimes I would take […]

I’m not your stereotypical Asian American

Dae-Hyun Jin Los Angeles, CA Being Asian American, or Asian (fill in the blank), means higher expectations and standards from society. And not in the traditional sense, such as our strong cultural values and morals rooting from ancient Chinese philosophy; but, rather, a new-age philosophy that has effected our own native culture. To clarify, I […]

This question shouldn’t even be there.

Samantha D. Los Angeles, CA I’m from Eastern Europe and I find America’s racial diversity very interesting and exciting. That being said America is entirely too focused on the label of race – from job applications, college applications, scholarships, to nearly every government form. The principle of the question really bothers me and I usually […]

That Asian girl in the background

Lydia Ho Los Angeles, CA I moved to the U.S. four years ago, and having to come across my classmate’s Facebook comment identifying a picture she took of her friend with me standing in the background was nothing but pain in my heart, when I saw her commenting: “that Asian girl in the background”. I […]

Other ethnicities get all the scholarships.

Carissa Brown Los Angeles, CA I am a struggling white college student with no scholarships. Why? Because all the scholarships available seem to be exclusively for first generation Americans, or Hispanics, or African Americans, or anyone but me. It’s not my fault I’m white. Why can’t I get scholarships??? Why can’t there be any scholarships […]

People of color are racist, too.

Lynn Lomibao Los Angeles, CA To clarify, my statement isn’t intended to create further divisions among “people of color” or to point the finger or to say that white folks aren’t racist. My point is to acknowledge that people of color can be racist, too. Case in point: I learned that people see me differently […]

What does “majority minority” even mean?

Peter Kim Los Angeles, CA Heard the phrase “majority minority” on the radio the other day. I know exactly what they meant and I have heard it many times before, but it irked me. Used to express when an ethnic minority is greater than 50% or outnumber the “majority.” The implications are that the majority […]

Mixed Latina two times “different”, lonely.

Mara Andino Los Angeles, CA My parents are both Puerto Rican. My mom has red hair and freckles constantly mistaken for Northern European, my dad is Black and Tiano Indian. Growing up in NYC in the 60’s and 70’s not many people looked like ma and spoke Spanish too. It was a struggle too dark […]

But Where Are You From, Originally?

Christian La Mont Los Angeles, CA It’s just another way of saying, “Well, you don’t look like you’re from Colorado, what nationality are your parents? What’s your race? ” It used to bother me. Now, it’s a part of who I am. Born in Mexico, raised in Colorado. And very happy to live in Los […]

Saying you’re “color blind” is OFFENSIVE.

Lacey Johnson Los Angeles, CA I know that saying you “don’t see color” is a hot trend right now, but I don’t think that many realize how offensive it is to a person of color to hear those words. By saying you don’t see color, you are denying our struggle, our history, and our existence. […]

Your lack of education is voluntary.

Winter Rose Los Angeles, CA Everyone in the USA is required to attend school, unlike impoverished countries around the world. Our education system is paid for. If you are not learning in school, it is through either your own fault, or a physical/mental requirement for special needs, which is also provided for in our system. […]

I am a “real” Black person.

Maya Segirah Los Angeles, CA I have heard this all my life, exclusively from white people (ok, men) , who, for some arrogant reason, think they have the right to tell who I am or what I should be, to the exclusion of my own experience. When I question their assumptions in any way I […]

You have a cute English accent.

Angel Liu Los Angeles, CA I’m an international student studying in America. Since I was born and raised in China, I have an obvious accent when I speak English. People can easily guess where I come from and my ethical background is very simple. I identify who I am very clearly, but when living such […]

Are you sure you’re not mixed?

Jennifer Lindsay Los Angeles, CA I get asked some variation of this on a fairly regular basis, about once or twice a week. The conversation usually goes something like this: OP: where are you from? Me: Los Angeles, although I was born in Orange County OP: well where are your parents from? Me: My dad’s […]

Dark mother. Fair daughter. Recessive genes.

Rita Kane Los Angeles, CA Recessive genes will never allow the human race to fade to one color, as some people fear. It’s the opposite. We aren’t fading to brown. We probably started out that way. But time has actually evolved us into distinctive groups. The possibility for different colors is in the DNA. The […]

no kissing in public gay boy

Robert Lee Los Angeles, CA It’s awkward enough seeing others making out in public, but for a gay man to just give a loving peck to his significant other still tends to be frowned upon at times. Not really race related, rather orientation, but it’s of the same ilk.

Thanks, We’ll take over, black man.

Andre A. Clark Los Angeles, CA As a hard working, young, black software engineer, I am often praised for my contributions, but equally (if not more often) overlooked for chances to lead or to be cultivated into a leadership position.

Must be black on the inside

Angie Featherstone Los Angeles, CA When I was 39 years old, my mother informed me that my great, great-grandmother was an escaped slave named Hatti. Despite all outward evidence to the contrary, I am 1/16th black.

Amazed it is still an issue

Brigitte Ferry Los Angeles, CA The Universe really likes variety, so why do we hold on so tight to this brand of ignorance! Trillions of years on Planet earth and many more to come, its time to move on!! Just imagine what we could do with all this waisted energy, we might stop being stingy […]

He called my dad a wetback.

Arturo Aguilar Los Angeles, CA My dad was a car painter and during vacation from Jr. High School I would go work as his helper. One day a client of the body shop came in and was unhappy about the time it was taking to get his car painted. He complained to the owner by […]

You don’t have to whisper “black.”

Tracy Gray Los Angeles, CA I’ve noticed that when some people described a person as “black,” they will whisper or hesitate, as if they will offend me. It doesn’t matter if they are progressive or conservative. It doesn’t seem to occur to them that I am proud of who I am and I would be […]

My neighborhood was notorious for racism.

Julie Simon Los Angeles, CA In 1959, members of the Collins Park community (New Castle, Delaware) firebombed the home of one of the first Black families to move into the neighborhood. On the second occasion, the house was destroyed. Historian Yohuru Williams has written about this event and it is included in the Encyclopedia of […]

But, you didn’t sound black.

Steven Nelson Los Angeles, CA Before the advent of email, people would commonly say this to me when they would meet me after a phone conversation. Funny, they always squirmed when I responded, “Oh. What are black people supposed to sound like?”

Them That’s Got Shall Get. History.

Daria Roithmayr Los Angeles, CA For me, and maybe also for Rich Ford, race isn’t primarily about people’s interpersonal interactions but about big structural processes, that explain why jobs, housing, health care, wealth (WHOA that’s a big one), education, incarceration, infant mortality and just about everything else is distributed massively along racial lines. Those disparities […]

Whites can’t distinguish Harvard from Hoodlum.

Alisa Dennis Los Angeles, CA Many white people do not personally know any blacks, or very few. As a result, their only reference point for black culture is drawn from stereotyped, caricatured images from T.V. news, sitcoms, Hollywood movies, or quickly driving through the outskirts of economically marginalized black neighborhoods where they are likely to […]