Lara Jean DeShayes, Oakland, CA. I was born in Olongapo Philippines to a Filipina mom and French-American Naval seaman. In Oakland, I’m often assumed to be Latina or Hispanic but as I’ve travelled around the world, people often mistaken me for someone of their own race: Turkish in Istanbul, Greek in Athens, Italian in Naples, […]
Susan, Boulder, CO. I’ve been going through something of an identity crisis recently. I’m 31, of mixed race (1/2 Mexican and 1/2 a mix of European). Although my mom was born in Mexico and is fluent in Spanish, I wasn’t raised much in the culture because I grew up on an Air Force Base in […]
JSRL Padre, Glendale, CA. I am Filipino. Born in Quezon. Imported to East LA. Learned to walk and talk in Los Feliz. Never heard Tagalog at home. It’s not my parent’s first language. That would be Ilocano for my papa, and maybe Alcalenian or Pangasinan for mama. Because of where I grew up, Spanish is […]
Peg Anderson, Westborough, MA. Mom came here after WWll from Newfoundland, Canada. When I was in the fifth grade she became a citizen. I used to quiz her while sitting on the front steps of our house.
Jack, Saint Paul, MN. My mom is an expert in manipulation and fake kindness, always sounding kind to hurt and control and shame. Because of rampant child discrimination across cultures, it was not hard for my mother to convince others that she was right, or to uphold the illusion of a happy “white suburban family”. […]
Sezin Koehler Submitted via Twitter: @SezinKoehler How many times I’ve heard this in my life. As a child very often when visiting the US (my dad is Sri Lankan). Occasionally still even now. I never get used to it. Sezin’s 6 word essay sparked a unique conversation on Twitter…take a look. She’s not your […]
David Thomas, Austin, TX Submitted via Twitter: @DavidRT A Note from Michele: David said his submission was “difficult to write”.
Bill Geraci Blue Island, IL Six? Who needs six? I can do it in five. Ask if you’re interested. (FYI: Mom and I were white and this was (fortunately) a long time ago.)
Tanya, Manakin Sabot, VA. My (adopted) son is biracial, his bio-father is unknown. I will never be able to connect him with his biological African American family. There is a void that I will never be able to fill for him . This breaks my heart as his mama.
Jennifer Charmley, Charlotte, NC. My dad is white American and my mom is a Chinese immigrant, and I am their adopted daughter from China who grew up in Seattle feeling half-white half-Chinese. As a customer on the phone I’m treated as a white woman, while in person I’m frequently asked what part of Asia I’m […]
Georgianna Wong, Topeka, KS. When my son, George Wong was playing baseball, I had a woman tell me how handsome my son was and then asked, “How long have you had him?” It always hurt me when people would think I adopted him even though my last name was Wong. Then I had a good […]
Eileen Spiegler, Fort Lauderdale, FL My parents were both first-generation American Jews — their parents moved to New York from Romania and Russia. Before I was born, they moved to South Florida, another “promised land” of sorts, in the hope of giving their children a better life. They were the first to move into a […]
Jaya Harrover Saxena Astoria, NY My dad moved to America from India as a child. My mom’s family has been in America since the 1630s. I have always been me.
Nicole Gaczhias, Las Vegas, NV. Being white you don’t really see ur race as a problem but being with a man who is not you see racial discriminating a lot. I grew up with out feeling unsafe but for my son as a young black man in America I cringe some times trying to think […]
Ryann Williams, Trinity University In a lot of ways, having two parents of different racial/ethnic backgrounds allows a unique insight into both cultures. It can be extremely enlightening to see how both sides can be so different and yet so similar at the exact same time. However, there is always this feeling as if I […]
R.E.A.L. Talk, High Tech Middle Media Arts, 7th Grade Trailblazer Both my parents grew up in Mexico. When people see me they think they have to translate in Spanish for me. It seems everyone always asked “Do you know English?” When I was only six, the stereotypes I was exposed to were “You look Mexican, […]
Matthew Dina, Phoenix, AZ.
Janice Lowe New York City, NY My mother, Dr. Willa Lowe was one of the first black English teachers in several high schools in New Jersey, Washington, DC and Ohio. She was part of that first wave of school integration in which talented African American teachers were hired before African American students were admitted. She […]
Paco Romane, San Francisco, CA. I grew up in an all white racist small town, with a hispanic nickname (paco), a white mom, and a black step-dad who’s last name was White. It taught me a lot including I believe there are two different kinds of white people: those become “black” around black people and […]
Ben Sian Atlanta, GA Born in the US to Filipino parents.
Sean Robertson, Kensington, MD. People impressed with how my wife handles our children have stopped her on the street to ask what agency she was hired through. I suppose it’s an improvement from the Dominican Republic where hotel security tried to prevent me from “bringing in a local prostitute.”
Yael Silverberg Urian, Montclair, NJ.
Molly Lai, Milford, NH. I was terrified of travelling as a child because I hated people asking if I was adopted. Or the more frightening question: Is this woman really your mother, you can tell me the truth? I am half Chinese (and looked more Chinese than English as a child) with a red-haired, blue-eyed, […]
Mary Horton Richmond, VA I didn’t realize until shortly before her death how different the world my mother gave me was from the one she was raised in. My mother had Alzheimer’s, and in the last few years of her life, she reverted to some of the attitudes and behaviors she had learned while growing […]
Theresa Salomon, Parkland, FL. A few months ago, as my 7 year old son was about to seat next to a class mate, he was told that Blacks should stay on the other side. That sentence changed our lives. My son and I had many conversations about racisms, and throughout I was able to redirect, […]
Ebone Newton, Norfolk, VA.
Laura Clarksville, MD Being Black we come in all shades. My mom is extremely fair-skin; my dad was very dark. I look like my dad. Blacks and whites do a double take when my mom and I are together and I call her mom.
Emery Boyle-Scott, Milwaukee, WI. I want to belong in a group, and it’s nice to belong until someone looks closely. My whiteness is always sidelined when people learn about my lesbian moms. Don’t look closely and I have all the privilege. But, then it disappears and I’m not allowed, I’m questioned on everything. There’s no […]
Amber Roberson-Rowell, Essex, MD. That was my second incident of prejudice and what instilled in me that race–the color of my skin–was a problem. The first was during my first day of pre-school and being pushed off a tricycle by a little white boy and being told “You don’t belong here!” I was the ONLY […]
Allison A, Yakima, WA. Sometimes it’s nanny, sometimes it’s babysitter or neighbor, but being asked if I was their grandmother was a first for me. At times, the question is about adoption . . . “Where did you get her?” The questions come from complete strangers, usually white people. The need to figure out this […]
Gianina Delucchi Pasadena, CA
Robert McAlister, Lexington, SC. Grew up in segregated south in a single parent home. Always felt on the margins but later in life realized my mom was ahead of her time in accepting and seeing everyone as God’s children.
Roshaan Rogers, Roseville, CA.
D. Keith Bailey, Long Beach, CA. It’s good to be a part of humanraceproject.
Kim Floyde, Montrose, CO.
John Butterworth Boston, MA My mother has just graduated from nursing school in Boston and moved to Maryland in the mid ’50’s with my dad, who was in the Army at the time. Mom found a job at a nearby city hospital in the maternity ward. Mom placed a beautiful newborn in the front row […]
Andrew Martin Sulla Mathews Dededo, Guam I sometimes think that people stereotype me based on my parents. I am used to being called both Filipino and white, but I don’t feel like either. I just want to be me, not a Filipino or a White, but Andrew.
Tom Lau, Chicago, IL. This is a Polaroid of the back of my mom and dad that I took few years ago.
Deb Wunder Brooklyn, NY Thank you for doing this.
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 […]
Andrew Dunn, Meridian, ID. My 4x great grandfather was born a slave in Virginia. My 3x great grandfather owned slaves in Missouri.
Jonathan Dearman, Wagoner, OK.
Tammy Medell Gardner San Jose, CA I am white. The man with whom I fell in love in 1982 was black. We met in Fort Worth, Texas working at the same company. He grew up in Charlotte, North Carolina, while I was from northern Michigan. Our romance, so new and full of hope, soon faltered […]
Liliane Dizon, Tampa, FL. Each time I have been pregnant, people (mostly white women) have said the rudest things to me. Most recently, as my daughters were standing next to me, a woman said “You must be excited to finally have one of your own!” I asked her to clarify what she meant. She pointed […]
David Pham Poughkeepsie, NY When I was young, my mom told me a macabre anecdote about the Vietnam War. She remembered that American soldiers would go through villages in search of Vietcong. As they went through, they would ask villagers in English if they were indeed Vietcong or not. Some villagers, though they did not […]
Michael Vines, New York, NY. Just want to make sure that you understand “the girl” was how many people in the 50-60’s referred to their maid.
Nisha Balaram, Oakland, CA. My dad would joke around, saying that my mom couldn’t help but fall in love with him when she first saw him. My mom was usually busy in the kitchen at the time, and would smile and roll her eyes in response to his comment; when the pungent scent of lentils […]
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 […]
Janai Leeb, Val Verde, CA. My 5 year old, bi-racial daughter is just discovering that her family may be a little different. I’m a black American and my husband is Austrian. From her perspective, I look like the odd man out in our four person family.
Adriana Pedroza Both of my parents were born and raised in Mexico. Looking at my family pictures, I’m the odd one out. As a child, I was blonde, and my eyes have always been on the lighter side. My skin is not dark. I don’t have my mom’s dark hair or my dad’s dark eyes […]
Michele Ypsilanti, MI My darling boys are Chinese and Black but look more racially non-specific; even while I lived in northern CA, what people think of as some sort of center of tolerance, people constantly assumed that since I was Black I was their nanny. Even though they are older now, I still get surprised […]
Joseph Jackson, III Gulfport, MS I asked my grandmother that question after she hit my butt so hard I saw little blue stars. It was 1957, N.O. La. at the grand opening of what was then billed as the world’s largest supermarket. My crime? Being 6 years old and drinking from the whites only water […]
Chanel Tate South Holland, IL This is something my African-American mom would say to me all the time when I was a kid and I called her out on saying something derogatory or stereotypical about other races. She’s dead now and it’s harder and harder for me to remember the sound of her voice, much […]
Sonia Kang Northridge, CA Are you their mom? As a biracial mom (Black/Latina) married to a Korean man with children who look more Asian than anything else, we are often looked at with curiosity. They look at them then at me. Is she the nanny? Who can she be? Whether at their Korean language immersion […]
Anne Reid Ravenna, OH In elementary school I brought 3 friends home after school one day, one a black girl. I was surprised when she told me not to do it again. It was my introduction to racism.
Stacey Golden Portland, OR I am Euro-American and my husband is African American. When we decided to adopt children, we adopted children that had bio-parents that were the same race as us, thinking, at the time, that then our children would feel more comfortable in a family that would have been like their bio-family. That […]
Peggy Person Cleveland, TN I have always been so disappointed in “America”, for labeling bi-racial, or mixed race children as one race or the other. I am a white woman, who has had to listen to society brainwash my child into believing that he can be accepted as “anything but white”. I raised him to […]
Chelsea Lowe Boston, MA In 1959, my mother was engaged to marry a man who wanted a black best man at their wedding. Even though my grandfather had made a point of drinking from “colored” fountains when the family drove south to Florida, this was–you could say–beyond the pale. “I can understand an old family […]
Michelle Martinez Tempe, AZ As a mixed child of divorced parents, a White mom and Mexican dad, I overheard a lot of racist talk in my mother’s family. Even though I never heard her say anything, she never disagreed, either. She sat quietly through it, not promoting it, yet not speaking against it. I often […]
Katherine Howard Venice, CA A three year old shouted this at my daughter when I came to pick her up from a play area. The child said this with a tone and with a look that I was shocked to see from a child so young. I am used to and prepared for this from […]
Carmen Bunkers Velazquez Pomona, CA I have always loved being with my mom’s side of the family, the Velazquez family. I think they have always felt safe because I identify myself through my mom’s racial and ethnic identity, Mexican American, and so with them I feel that I can be who I really am. Knowing […]
Giselle Henry Torrance, CA The first person who taught me that looking more like my African ancestors than my non-African ancestors made me ugly was my mother. She didn’t say it directly, but she said by telling me to pinch my nose so it wouldn’t be so wide. She said it by saying how “pretty” […]
Andrew Robinson Stanford, CA
David Denver, CO Four words that chill my heart. We had adopted our biracial son when he was 15 months. Now, at four years old, he had come in from playing with his friends and asked Mom, “am I black”? Am I black?, as if there was something wrong with black. As if white was […]
Kathy Osborne Greensboro, NC Trans-racial adoption has given me new eyes regarding race. I am Caucasian, my son is multi-racial but appears black to the world. I have attempted to provide the “Black Barbershop” experience for him, thinking he would be getting this cultural exposure if he lived in a traditional family, raised by Black […]
Tanya Haney Middleton, WI I am a white mother and school employee; my kids are white, Asian and I have been a foster parent to an African-American child. I have been struggling and driven to be part of the solution rather than part of the problem of institutional racism, but I struggle daily. People look […]
Thais Machado Teixeira Brazil My mom is black. My dad is white. I am not fair skinned enough to be white or dark enough to be black. Still, people believe that I’m my father’s daughter, but when I show them my mom I have to explain she married a white man so they can believe […]
Erin Fatica Outside USA, Mexico I was bused (from a white neighborhood to a formerly all-black school) to integrate Milwaukee Public Schools in the 70s and 80s. I experienced Black History Month and MLK Day before they were mainstream. I never thought I would be raising the only “black” (biracial) girl in a Mexico City […]
Robbie Wolfe Chester, VA My mom and us, her children, were noticeably “lighter” than the rest of my family, which were very brown to dark-skinned people. Yet, that’s how we were greeted on Sundays and family gatherings, in front of other family members, friends and invited guests. Running joke? As I got older, I secretly […]
Tom Bethesda, MD When my (white) mother worked at NAACP in the 60’s my Dad infamously questioned her sincerity. Mom died a decade ago. Dad spent last weekend walking precincts for Obama in NH. Hope and change indeed.
Dacia Mitchell Oakland, CA
Brenna Angel Lexington, KY Question I was asked as a child by kids in my apartment building. My mom (white) and dad (Mexican) are divorced so the kids didn’t know why my mom would be raising a little brown-skinned girl.
Donna Lovelady Indianapolis, IN Born in the south in 1924, mom was the granddaughter of a slave owner. She saw blacks pushed to the back of the bus, unjustly convicted and forced to hide from whites. It broke her heart. She made sure to teach me that color doesn’t make anyone better or worse. One […]