Father failed his brown bag test.

Derrick Warren, Baltimore, MD. I remember my father talking to me about his college days in Missouri. There was this fraternity on campus that would require their prospective pledges to pass what was said to be a brown bag test. Essentially, if you were darker than the brown bag, you could not get into the […]

Listen First. Pray Next. Speak Last.

Eric Nykamp, Grand Rapids, MI. My sense is that as white people, we too often choose to react or retreat from conversations about race because they are difficult to have. If we keep doing this, we don’t really make any progress. Yes, it is painful – for everyone. However, there is more beyond the pain. […]

“Privileged” kid meets Black men – golfing

Jim Scherrer Northport, MI I grew up in Grosse Pointe Woods …. All Caucasian community born in 1950. Around 1960, give or take, I attended the Detroit Free Press sponsored golf school. When you completed the classes, you received a card that allowed one to play at any of Detroit’s city courses for 25 cents! […]

People assume my daughter is adopted.

Rebecca Schwarzlose, Roayl Oak, MI. I am white and my husband is Indian. My daughter has my husband’s complexion. When we are together as a family people assume that she’s mixed but when I’m out with my daughter alone (which is most of the time) everyone assumes that she’s adopted. People ask me where she’s […]

We’re Here Walking Each Other Home

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 […]

I’m never asked about hot sauce.

Christine R. Ann Arbor, MI Before I started dating my “black” boyfriend, I really didn’t think about race very much or the privilege I inherited with my “white” skin. There have been times that people have made rude comments or asked, what I would consider, overtly racist questions upon learning of our interracial relationship. However, […]

Pride comes before the downfall, duh…

Courtney, Wyoming, MI. All this pride to be black, white, brown, American, whatever, just let it go. You didn’t put any work to be the color you are, or the country you were born, it just happened. You can love who you are or where you are from, outside of being prideful. I’m not certain […]

At the hospice, everyone is blue

Debbie Taylor, Ann Arbor, MI. My mother passed away on December 14, 2012 of liver cancer at the age of 80 and she spent her last afternoon and night in Ann Arbor Hospice. The staff was loving, kind and professional. One nurse in particular examined my mother with such tenderness and care that I was […]

Invisible to the census but here

Grsteena Khoshaba, Warren, MI. I am a Middle Eastern girl and I just have one question. Where am I? Why is it whenever I have to fill out an official document that asks for my race, Middle Eastern is not an option? We are forced to bubble “White” when we’re not really white.

Being blonde isn’t always more fun.

Heather Raymond Grand Rapids, MI Understanding Race Project – University of Michigan People say that “blondes have more fun,” but having light hair isn’t what it is cracked up to be. Many times I find myself at the receiving end of stigma when I have a “blonde” moment: dumb, human mistakes blamed on the color […]

As Korean as you are Korean

Tesha Post, Holland, MI. I was adopted from Korea when I was six months old and grew up living in the U.S. with my White parents. As a result, I do not speak Korean or know how to cook Korean foods. People are often surprised to hear this– they may react with disappointment, confusion, or […]

Colorblindness renders me invisible to you…

Dr. NiCole T. Buchanan, East Lansing, MI. I don’t want people to be blind to my color. Instead, I want them to see me in my entirety, including the fact that I am a Biracial Black woman, and I want them to actively embrace these parts that make me whole. I believe most people have […]

We are treated how we look.

Kimberly Dorsey, Detroit, MI. I am bi-racial and have been raised in a white family inside Detroit. I have suffered many racially motivated injustices in my travels and it makes me angry when people pretend race doesn’t matter. It matters when you are the one being discriminated against.

Identity is the root of suffering

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. […]

I’m white my daughter is black

Jennifer Berkemeier, Farmington Hills, MI. I’m a single mom. I adopted my daughter from Haiti in 2012 when she was 4 years old. I’m white, and 15 years older than most of her friends’ moms. We get a lot of stares and unwelcome comments from little kids (“Is she your grandma?” “How come you’re different […]

Don’t Classify Sports for a Race

Jaer Medina, 8th Grade Holland New Tech High School, Holland, MI Tennis has been considered a “white” people sport the same as how soccer is a “Mexican” sport. Another stereotype would be if I said all black people are good at basketball. My friend has told me why are you playing tennis? Mexicans don’t play […]

We Created Race, Then Change It

Brent Vuglar, Houghton, MI. Just like any controversial subject where people do not see eye to eye, people tend to be close-minded to others opinions. This development of tension plants a seed of anger to one another. I myself grew up in a not so very diverse suburb, and when I was younger I believed […]

Typical white, middle-class male…privileged

Greg Miodonski, Houghton, MI. Growing up in a mostly white, middle-class neighborhood, I took a lot for granted. I never realized how much privilege I had for simply being white. As we become older and recognize these vast, senseless disparities created between groups of people, it seems like we should use our privilege to help […]

When people ask… What are you?

Naomi, Grand Rapids, MI. I am an American, of Mexican decent… No, I don’t speak Spanish, no I don’t know where my family is from in Mexico… My Grandparents and Great-Grandparents were born in Texas… I grew up in Gary, IN around mostly Black people… people don’t know what box to put me in. How […]

My natural hair isn’t a statement.

Michelle Mabson, Ann Arbor, MI. Understanding Race Project- University of Michigan I wear my hair the way it grows out of my head…no chemical enhancements. BUT for some reason…a reason I suppose I know all too well, the act of wearing my ‘natural’ hair is seen as larger than life. Maybe it’s the fact that […]

“Basic white girl, you’ll never understand.”

Rebecca Robrahn, Holland, MI. No matter how much I try to learn and read and participate in conversations, I’m told I can’t understand, will never understand, that my privilege blinds me. I know I can never truly feel the experience of living in America as a black, Asian or Latina woman, but I *AM* trying. […]

Mexican girls don’t need a Quinceañera

Yadhira, 8th Grade Holland New Tech High School, Holland, MI. My friends and cousins tell me that I need to have a Quinceañera and I tell them I don’t want a big party with everyone dancing, Some of my family members say I should have my quinceanera at Mexico, but I don’t want one I […]

No…None of us were adopted

Madilyn Hays, Holland, MI. Me and my siblings are from all different ethnic backgrounds. I’m blond haired, blue eyed and full white. While my brother and sister are both of African American background, their great grand father was actually Louis Armstrong. And then my last two brothers are Puerto Rican. We all have the same […]

White, but can’t have Mexican family?

Jade Weber, Holland, MI. When my grandparents come up to visit, and we go out people always ask if my grandfather is related to us. My whole family is white, but my grandfather is Mexican. My grandmother married him so, he is part of my family. Sometimes when people ask we can tell they are […]

Ain’t Nothin’ Wrong Being a Factory Rat.

Diane Payne, Monticello, AR. I grew up in Holland, Michigan, a town where most everyone considered themselves quite lucky to have a job in a factory. Just about all my relatives worked in a factory. I remember the first time I visited General Motors for a family day, and I was continuously on the lookout […]

Grace, pride, dignity, honour, love and light

Seydi, Detroit, MI. While growing up in Senegal some refer to me as dark as the buttocks of a cauldron, iIwas proud to be as dark as the stone of the Kaaba filled with love and light, often i dreamed to be blue-black as those vailant fishermen Lebou, Niominka or Guet-Ndar tauting the Sun Ra […]

Please don’t ask me to jig.

Zee Brennan Grand Rapids, MI Often times when I share with people that I am Irish, many people aren’t surprised and demand that I dance a jig for them. Although I am also an accomplished Irish dancer, it feels as though there is an assumption among many Americans that all Irish know how to dance […]

Done Being the Token Black Girl

Ebony, Farmington Hills, MI. I grew up in a place where Black people felt they made it. A suburban community where the majority of residents were Black, employed, and thriving. It was wonderful growing up in this setting but it created unrealistic expectations for what the “real world” was and what life is like for […]

Not All Mexicans Like Spicy Foods

Jacquelin Rojas, 8th Grade Holland New Tech High School, Holland, MI. Whenever someone asks me if I Like spicy food like pepper, Takis, Hot Cheetos, or Hot Fires, I say I don’t like anything spicy, they look at me in a weird way and tell me your not Mexican because you don’t like any spicy […]

What color will your kid’s be?

J. Torres Kansas City, MO My father is from Puerto Rico, born and raised. My mother is Colombian. However, raised in Panama. They met in the 1950’s while my dad was in the U.S. Army. Us kids always called ourselves PanaRicans. Until my mother gave us her true background. I attended college in Michigan in […]

Color Doesn’t Matter. Tell My Boss.

Tina, MI. These six terms are my experience as it relates to every work environment I’ve encountered. I’ve been successful whereever I’ve worked and am now busy doing the “enterepreneur thing” (successfully). My employment experiences have all been the same. Single black female, alone in a sea of white as if no other qualified blacks […]

Skyward Sprouting Despite American Cultural Miasma

Bomani Kyasa Detroit, MI We are Designed to Benefit from the Fruits of Our Own Labor. Anti-Life forces structure socio-economic conditions to to turn People and Specific Races into drones via a pernicious objectification process. Living is about pushing or obliterating the boundaries of the imagination; so that, that the Creative Human Spirit can Soar […]

Where Are You From? No Answers.

Charley Sullivan, Ann Arbor, MI. Understanding Race Project- University of Michigan It was 1976. I was 12, and just moved back to the DC suburbs from growing up in Southeast Asia and West Africa. The first question to me in 7th grade English class was “Did you see Tarzan?” This is how much my new […]

Only whites can end racism

Gay White, W. Bloomfield, MI. I am a product of the civil rights movement and I watched racism go underground until we had a Black President then it all started to rise to the surface we are only seeing what had always happened the difference is that we are going to have to teach then […]

Dear Ebenezer Baptist: I still cringe

Elizabeth Rodriguiz, Ypsilanti, MI. In the early 2000s I tagged along with my husband to his professional society meeting in Atlanta. While he went to lectures, I explored the city. I took the Metro to the stop nearest Ebenezer Baptist Church and walked through the neighborhood to get there. At the church, I actually asked […]

We are one human family

Maeve, Ypsilanti, MI. I grew up in an international school where we celebrated each other’s differences. It was a rude awakening to grow up and learn that this is not the way it works in the real world. We are one human family, with a fascinating variety of cultures. We need to step out of […]

Biracial by birth, Black by choice

Kimberly, Detroit, MI. I was just listening to Talk of the Nation with Celeste Headlee discussing Navigating The Lines Between Ethnicity And Identity and I could relate to notion of being biracial and adopted into a white family and having to explore my identity through education and exposure to other black people. I’ve learned that […]

Love soccer; not because I’m Mexican.

Mina Perez Holland, MI A lot of people think that “soccer” is just for Mexicans. But in reality soccer is for anyone to play, it doesn’t matter what color of your skin you are. People shouldn’t get judged because of their skin, because anyone who’s any color can play soccer. People don’t understand the fact […]

Why do white people fear us

Anonymous, Warren, MI. Why do white people hate and fear black people to such a point that white people set a global system of a racism against black people in every way? Are white afraid of losing to black in some way or is it something deeper and hidden?

You can’t be mixed your dark

Myla Ledesma, Westbloomfield, MI. My mother is African American and my father is Puerto Rican. Me and all my siblings are biracial, we all look alike the only difference is their light skin and I’m brown skin. We all have medium length hair. Anytime I’m with them we get ask are we mixed and when […]

Sir, please take your “hat” off

Jasneet Kaur Palaha, Ann Arbor, MI. University of Michigan. Sikhism, a monotheistic religion from Northern India believes the idea of simplicity, therefore requiring to never cut your hair, along with other requests. Men usually tie their hair neatly in a turban, whereas girls commonly let it down. Wherever we were, my father would be frisked […]

Blinded grandfather gave granddaughter excellent vision

Nicole, East Lansing, MI. My grandfather was blind all my life. All I knew was that there was an accident. It wasn’t until he passed that I learned that the accident involved a white man. My grandfather was a doorman and was pushed into the glass door. My grandfather never spoke of the incident. I’m […]

See me for who I am

Jonah Gerry, Haslett, MI. My name is Jonathan Gerry and I organized my Black Student Union at my high school. This quote was inspired because we have all been discriminated against. And it’s what’s on the inside that matters.

Poor White Kid, Wheres My Privilege?

Chris, Redlands, CA. Growing up on welfare, to a single mother in rural Michigan, I learned not to expect help from anyone. However, my whole life I have heard of this privilege that we all are given given because we are white. While I’ve never been in another persons footsteps, life hasn’t been very easy, […]

They were Asian and left 20%!

Caitlyn Rize, Ann Arbor, MI. As a waitress on a college campus, the people I work with constantly stereotype their tables before even walking up to them. Oftentimes the other servers will “give their table away” — meaning they don’t want to serve them — to us other servers who give everyone the chance to […]

51 years of history was unlearned

Brandon M. VerBurg, 8th Grade Holland New Tech High School, Holland, MI.   I love to study the past, and history is filled with turning points. Points that change the world. One that is being missed often is Civil Rights. Back in 1964 the movement was passed. It was passed so that race wouldn’t be an […]

Born Norwegian, Raised American, not illegal

Linda Kristensen, Grand Rapids, MI. I am writing this for my daughter who is 34 with Autism. She became my daughter in 1980 when I was living in Norway. We returned to the USA in 1983 but my daughter even after 30 years is still not an American citizen. Here’s part of her story…. My […]

Don’t believe everything that you think

Jim Schultheiss, St. Johns, MI. I have always felt that I needed to be very careful and thoughtful on issues related to prejudice. Growing up in as a white, heterosexual male in a community largely lacking diversity, I learned I needed to listen very carefully to the thoughts and experiences of others and not impose […]

Being Caucasian Doesn’t Make Me Racist

Luke Pomranke, Petoskey, MI. I feel that I always need to be careful about what I say so that I am not accused of being racist. At times, I will make the exact same comment as someone from a different race but I will be accused of being racist while the other person will not […]

It’s all about interactions with others.

Katelyn Prine, East Lansing, MI. As a white student who grew up in rural Michigan, my conception of race did not exist in my small community. For me learning about race is best done through meeting people who have faced the struggles and building relationships. Groups like MRULE on campus have inspired my growth and […]

What is a mad black woman

Lashauna Vaughn Warren, MI What is a mad black woman people look at it being loud, angry, violet but I think it is misunderstood for confident, determination ,and strong verbal skills. All these requirements are asked in a job application so who is mad?

The house I did not build

Adam Paberzs, Ann Arbor, MI. Understanding Race Project- University of Michigan Here are some other 6-word essays that you may use under my name (I know that’s probably breaking the rules – just wanted to share if nothing else). Whiteness. Welcome to the real world. Not who I thought I was. Fear. Guilt. Shame. Courage. […]

More than just a “white” woman

Brandi Schroeder, East Lansing, MI. I have a rather diverse group of friends, and the other day one made a comment about my origins. I grew up in a predominantly caucasian town where my high school held maybe 10 black students. My friend, who happens to be Somali, asked this question, and upon my answer […]

“But you have to play soccer”

Joanna Pedraza, 8th Grade Holland New Tech High School, Holland, MI. There are a lot of people who ask me if I play soccer, and I do. But when I say I don’t play soccer they usually say “But you’re Mexican you have to play soccer” and I don’t like that, just because i’m Mexican […]

No, I’m “really” from New York.

Kate Lee van Loveren, Ann Arbor, MI. I was born in New York, grew up in New York, and live in New York (when I’m not at school). I’m of half Chinese and half Dutch descent, but for some people that registers into me not being American for some reason. Just by looking at me, […]

Slave trader descendent attempts healing words

Lyn Franklin Hoyt, Nashville, TN. I’m on a search, a journey for words, to figure out how my family heritage can be used for good to heal atrocities, rather than become a memory of evil. Not to hide that evil, but face it head on as recognition slavery was wrong and to talk about what […]