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 […]

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 […]

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 […]


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 […]

“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, […]

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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 […]

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Humankind: the only race that matters.

Nora Kathryn, Starkville, MI. It astounds me that media turns so many stories into race debates. I wish we could celebrate our differences in religion, political views, sexuality, income, and ethnicities and implement more support for our fellow brothers and sisters in the human race.

Then he died in our alley.

Sue Blanshan, Okemos, MI. My family lived in segregated Georgia when I was young. A playmates mother called the police to report a black man smelling her clean laundry on the back yard clothes line. The police came and chased him three blocks and shot him by our house in the alley. He died there. […]

Drowning in generalizations; floating on truth

Alexis Ford Ann Arbor, MI Understanding Race Project- University of Michigan As an African American, I have several generalizations placed upon me. Some people just assume who I am. I am rarely asked. While a lot of these assumptions hurt, I know the truth. I know only my own actions and words define me. I […]

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I believe in the hyphen!

Roberto Jara, Alto, MI. It drives me nuts when people say, “Let’s all be color blind, forget our cultures of origen and just be ‘American,’ instead of ‘Latin-American,’ ‘Asian-American,’ etc. I can be American and preserve by culture of origin! Those of us who come from cultures other than the dominant Northern European Culture, have […]


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. […]


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 […]

White skin is the best camouflage

C. Badour, MI. In America today, the best way to fly under the radar is to be white. Assumptions are made about blacks, asians, and hispanics based purely upon race, which cannot be said about whites. Non-whites seem to stick out in America, as if being white is considered a social norm and being non-white […]

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. […]

Will Work for White Male Privilege

Zander Delo, Lansing, MI. I work my tail off to make a minimalistic living. Ad-hominem finger-pointing, blind racism towards anybody (even white males), is only destructive; it has no constructive purpose for either party. Attempting to gain something by trying to discourage those above or below you in the social hierarchy is barbaric; more constructive […]

“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! […]

And afterall, we all bleed red.

Jorge Grand Rapids, MI I am Hispanic and proud to be so. Growing up I realized that my skin was darker than my brothers’ and many others in the family and from very early on (growing up in El Salvador, my beloved but racist little country) I was aware that the color of one’s skin […]

Why the Confederate flag is NOT racist

Daisy Martinez, Holland, MI. The Confederate flag does not represent and never has represented racism. It’s a symbol of the southern heritage, representing freedom, states rights, individual responsibility, and resistance to an out of control federal government. It may be true that some racists have used the Confederate flag, but racists also wave the American […]

I didn’t know they were different.

Tina S. Walther, Milan, MI. My mother was pregnant with me when she moved from upstate NY to the south in 1962. While the weather was nice the surroundings were challenging – especially for a white, woman, Catholic, with no accent and someone not willing to have a maid or gardener. So it was time […]

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Black, but I don’t fear police

Rinard, Holland New Tech High School, Holland, MI. Yes I feel there is an issue and a relationship gap between black men and police. It’s unfortunate what has been going on in our nation lately. I agree black lives matter and I can see how one may think they don’t given the recent sad events. […]


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 […]


I knew one side of racism.

Joyce Goodluck, East Lansing, MI. On Location, MSU. Before coming to MSU I knew one side of racism from media. Whites discriminating Blacks. I even once experienced that when I passed by Akers Hall and some one shouted at me from his window black and African. I was like he is a racist.But whom am […]


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 […]

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 […]

Call Me Mutt: One Doesn’t Fit

Mark Sundermann Holt, MI This morning’s story about Mixed Heritage gave me hope. How does one pick from the following? German, Mexican, Dutch, Zapotec, Irish and (possibly) Menomini? I’m a MUTT.

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 […]


Apparently, I’m Jesus, or a terrorist.

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 […]


Married a white girl, now what??

Kyle Lim, Grand Rapids, MI. As a biracial individual, I learned early-on how to de-emphasize certain aspects of my racial identity depending on who I was around. When I met my wife Claire, we were both attending a predominantly white private college and although she knew that I was mixed, her experiences with me have […]

We Are All The Same, Human

Randa Saeed, West Bloomfield, MI. We are all the same,human. We bleed the same color,red.Are bodies work the same,yet everyone thinks the color of your skin defines how high or low you are in society. Don’t let anyone tell you aren’t good enough because of your skin color , race or whatever it might be. […]

Black girl pursuing her true happiness

Alissa Ward, Pontiac, MI. I know that even though I am a very intelligent and smart girl, I still will get discriminated because of the color of my skin. Whether it is in a social environment or a business environment I will always be judge because of what I look like or my complexion. I […]


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 […]


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 […]

I’m white I’m not white trash

Madison, West Bloomfield, MI. I don’t have much to say. But I am a white girl, and I have been called white trash before, I walk into a public place and people my age who I have never met before start whispering and laughing at me, I had just happened to hear the phrase “white […]


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 […]


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 […]

New experiences: better late than never.

Bryce Beckwith Ann Arbor, MI I attended a catholic, all-girls high school in Sacramento, California. Race and diversity were things I had only experienced through informative assemblies. However; the University of Michigan has made those assemblies a daily experience.

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 […]

“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. […]


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 […]

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, […]


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 […]


My Mind Isn’t Inferior To Yours

Jonah Payne, St. Louis, MI. Many people feel that a Black person isn’t capable of what others are, and I find that to be false. I feel that, as a young Black male, I am accomplishing things better than most of the majority. We are all equally capable of what we want to be come […]

Hispanic or Latino? I feel American

Hector Vargas, Grand Rapids, MI. I grew up on the east coast. The high school I attended was primarily populated by minorities. My mother is Mexican and my biological father is Brazilian. My mother remarried and i was raised with Mexican customs. On the East cost I was considered Latino, in the mid west I […]

I have pride in my black!

Candayshia Loyd, Flint, MI. Growing up I was taught to be a quiet and polite black woman. I had to take persecution from men and I had to do what they said. I’m not someones servant, im not a maid. I’m going to be your Black Women President one day.

Back into closet, fear of unemployment

Luke Flint, MI Coming out in college was an amazing thing. My family accepted every part of my life. The man I met and have been with half way though college is my best friend and hopefully life partner. We now live together and I currently do not want to bring co-workers to hang out […]


THE reason I have a scholarship.

Marilou Ingles, Romulus, MI. I am American Indian, I grew up in poverty, and I am from the South. I often joke that I received a scholarship to U of M because of my heritage. I do not believe that I would have been admitted based on academia, talent, experience, or personality; I am here […]

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 […]


Adoption. Origin unknown. OK with that.

Cindy Droog, Grand Rapids, MI. Clearly, I am Caucasian. Beyond that, so many people aren’t comfortable with the “origin unknown” concept. They want to tell me that my extremely short stature, or reddened face, must indicate a certain heritage. They have a difficult time understanding that my heritage is not something I’ve sought to understand. […]

Watch me pay for this

James Henderson Houghton, MI I’m a black man. There is this stereotype, that all black people steal, so whenever we walk into a store we are followed around the store and or watched from a distance. I have money and don’t need to steal form anyone. Watch me pay for this.

Traveling closes doors on old stereotypes.

Brent Beard, Lansing, MI. For a broke college student, I’ve been lucky enough to see more of this world than many people ever will. I’ve discovered in my wanderings that you may meet a Thai bartender who you relate to more than your own relatives. You may have greater difficulties understanding the culture of a […]

Acceptance, like art, comes in all colors.

Harold Rice, Ann Arbor, MI. On Location: University of Michigan The University of Michigan has the 8th most international students in the country, which causes all of it’s students to be both accepting and interactive with cultures far different from their own. I came to the university from a town that was 99% white, and […]

Being biracial makes me an edgewalker.

Anonymous Ann Arbor, MI The concept of being an “edgewalker” is from Nina Boyd Krebs–it means you can move between cultural traditions and cultural communities with some level of ease, comfort and enjoyment. Being raised in a Black/White family, we talked about and lived race/ethnicity/socio-economics/etc. daily. I know now that this is a blessing as […]

What would the neighbor’s think?

Dolly Szymanski Fort Wayne, IN Both of these quotes are things my mother heard or said. The second quote – My mother said to me when I wanted to invite some college friends to our home. Some of the friends were persons of color Grosse Pointe, MI in 1959.

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 […]


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 […]

I, Woman Of Color Can Articulate

Epiphanie Malloy Inkster, MI This stereotypical notion that women of color,especially us in the African American community, are incapable of orating with yell, screaming, being “angry and black” has become accedingly old hat. The shock an awe I receive when I properly articulate my feelings, ideas and general statements/responses is far more annoying and frequent […]


Yes I’m Black no not biracial

David, Detroit, MI. To the cops, I am “white”. To many others I am “not” black. I don’t try to pass and I don’t try to compensate for it by “acting” black. I am very direct about these issues though. I am a black guy. How much more direct can I be? I’m not adopted. […]

Where you goin’, where you been?

Caitlin Grames Sterling Heights, MI Race, gender, heritage, and all other innate traits we are born with are only secondary to our life experiences. Our stories make us who we are as individuals. And you can’t capture a whole history with just “black”, or just “white”.

“You don’t act like a Mexican”

Danny Perez, 8th Grade Holland New Tech High School, Holland, MI. I’ve been told many things because I come from a Mexican family. I have been told,” We can’t hang out anymore because my parents don’t like Mexicans.”, and “You can’t even speak spanish how are you mexican?”. In general I am treated okay, but […]

Jokes Can Be Just As Harmful

Skyla Gochenour, 8th Grade Holland New Tech High School, Holland, MI. Every day there are supposed “jokes” batted back and forth between man every day. While many of these jokes are seemingly harmless, they can really hurt people. Especially people like me. Since I have lighter skin it is impossible to tell that I am […]

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Skin doesn’t define the person’s race

Lisette Lazaro, 8th Grade Holland New Tech High School, Holland, MI. When people see the color of someone skin they automatically go to an conclusion that are one specific race. For example, when they see a person with light brown skin they say the person is Mexican and when their skin is white they automatically […]