Anonymous, USA. Grew up as the only little brown girl in class, always having to explain why my hair grew up to the skies when it rained and the humidity took control of my tresses, then drew tightly too my head. Never getting assistance from the PTA moms passing out red and black combs on […]
Amber Price, Atlanta, GA. I was raised in Chattanooga, Tennessee. I grew up ashamed of my Blackness. I heard the n-word for the first time in elementary school. I prayed every night for God to make me white. At the age of 17 I was told to go sit with the rest of the Blacks […]
Lee, North Little Rock, AK.
Lydia Taylor Memphis, TN I was born and raised in Alaska. When I was 4, my father got out of the Air Force and accepted a job as a State Trooper in Dillingham, Alaska. He moved from Anchorage to Dillingham first, to start his job as we as find us a place to live. We […]
Anonymous Athens, GA Centuries ago, on the Horn of Africa, where my parents originated, Arabs crossed the Red Sea then crossbred and/or raped the indigenous Africans. This event has confused generations of “my” peoples’ sense of identity. I pose the question to my mother, “What are we?”, to which she responds, “Look in the mirror. […]
David Thomas, Austin, TX Submitted via Twitter: @DavidRT A Note from Michele: David said his submission was “difficult to write”.
Angie Estrada, Columbia, SC. I have been struggling with my sister-in-law seemingly using me as her token Mexican-American “friend”. She parades me among her white friends and uses me a talking point when making casually racist comments. You know, the classic “…but my friend is *insert minority here*”. I cringe at the fact that I […]
TR Kelley Swisshome, OR “White trash” is a hip cultural joke. “N*****” is “hate speech”. Why?
Evan Sorem, San Diego, CA. I am a human being. I have lived nearly all my life in California. My ancestors have lived in California, Illinois, Wyoming, Utah, Tennessee, Virginia, Norway, France, Italy, England, the Netherlands and who knows where else. So, people view me as a “white” person. In my 40’s, I have learned […]
Al, Atlanta, GA. I was born 51 years ago. I grew up with a father who would definitely be considered racist today, but was probably just typical blue collar in those days – kind of an Archie Bunker figure. I heard the N word at least a dozen times a week. Fast forward to my […]
Nelson Morgan, Miramar, FL. My hue is from God. My pain is from man.
Tim Buer USA My maternal family was from the South. The N-word and racial slurs were part of normal conversation. Those old tapes still roll. My thinking has changed a lot for the better, but I’m not there yet.
Joyce Fidler, Toluca Lake, CA. In 1956 I was in first grade, my mother was Japanese-Hawaiian, and I knew nothing about WWII. I didn’t realize my mother was part Japanese, nor did I know why anyone should care. Years later in high school I failed to grasp why students on my Indianapolis school bus would […]
Mark Steensland, Elk Grove, CA. Mark provides a link to: When Readers Do Get It by: Nicholas Kristof, featured in the NY Times to illustrate his 6 words.
Keira Glover, England. I was sat on the train yesterday reading Tolkiens ‘Lord of the Rings’ when a black woman sat down next to me, she kept leaning over my shoulder so I assumed she was a fan and that she was reading along, I even slowed my pace to give her more time to […]
Audrey A Fischer, Wilson, NC. When I lived in Virginia Beach, I didn’t notice race. Up north, it was so institutionalized that I barely knew any People of Colour. When I came down south in the eighth grade, I suddenly was the largest group, but our school was 60 or so percent minority. I was […]
Celest, Lakeland, FL. Southeastern University, Understanding Human Diversity Class. For everyone living in today’s society; we can all grow if we are honest with our choices, words, & actions. Honesty; that time when my a group of my white friends and I changed the letters on a church sign to say, “church of the nig,” […]
Tara Saltzman, Evergreen, CO. My teens arguing in favor of de-degrading(?) the word n*****, inspired by conviction that changing the influence of words (no longer receiving the word “n*****” as having negative intent or implication), changes relationships. wondering if they are empowered by the innocence of youth and lack of historic understanding AND regardless able […]
Franklin Oliver, Indianapolis, IN.
Eli Russell, Austin, TX. As a writer, these six words are something I’ve said before. I lend it here to hopefully add to the growing conversation, to close the divide in the races, to open racist minds and to unite all Americans, all people across the world in peace. It is up to each generation […]
FessunUp Cracka, San Francisco, CA. My father never said n*****, but the multitude of subtleties…assumptions…these are mine to deal with. When I was a teenager, I frequently made racial slurs…weird, considering that there were only 3 black kids in my 1500 student high school. Now it is different for me. This cracker minored in black […]
Stacy N Knight New York City, NY Brooklyn The “civil rights movement” has not ended nor has the history eluded my development- It is my current reality. I vividly remember the first time I was called a ni**** at age 5 and the most recent experience of being called “black devil” at age 28.
Anna Berch-Norton, Pittsburgh, PA. Yeah, when white guys call their friends “my nigga” and people say to their Vietnamese friend, “it’s funny cause you’re Asian”, that doesn’t mean that we’re totally over that whole racism thing. It means that people are subscribing to the hipster theory of racism that you can say really racist, disgusting […]
Amy Connelly Provo, UT In teaching about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to my high school students, I had to pause and do some research when I ran across the word “negro” repeatedly used by Dr. King in both his famous “I Have a Dream” speech and “Letter from Birmingham Jail”. I did not know […]
RuNett Nia Ebo, Philadelphia, PA. I was seven years old and had never heard the word before. Didn’t know what it meant but she made an ugly face when she said it. I knew it had to be bad.
Ugo, Spencer, WV. Racism is a problem, I will admit that, but I also think that if black people don’t want to be called the N word by white people, then STOP CALLING EACH OTHER IT. I constantly hear black people throwing the word around to each other, but then suddenly a white person says […]
Jewell Barnes, Chesapeake, VA. I can’t even keep track of the amount of times I was called whitewashed….. I’m sorry, I went to school and learned how to speak without saying N***** every other word.
Lamar Johnson, Knoxville, TN. I used to get so upset when someone used N***** to describe me. I then realized that I got upset because I thought of myself as a N*****. When I chose not to believe I was a nigger, I became free of the word and it no longer has an impact […]
Nima Scott, Madison, WI. I’m a Black, dreadlocked woman who works in a psychiatric facility. My first week on my unit a Black patient incredulously yelled that he had NEVER seen a Black doctor in the hospital in all of the years that he lived there. Apparently, neither had my peers whose sole framework for […]
M C Antone, Ft Lauderdale, FL. In 1969 I told my parents that I would rather dance with the black kids at a high school dance. My father stated he did not want anyone calling his daughter a “n*****” lover. I retorted “I am and I’m proud of it” Then he struck me. I can […]
Ellie Myers, Saint Louis, MO. I was born and raised in Saint Louis, Missouri where the tension around race politics is palpable. Race never played a big role in my life, because it never had to. That is, until I started dating black men. I remember friends in high school joking about me going to, […]
Kirl T. Lawson, Oakland, CA. I have so many tales to share about my experience with my color (or lack of “definitive color recognition”). growing up in Chicago, I was called “a white n*****” by friends at times w/ affection and at times derisively. Initially the appellation hurt my feelings until I took an objective […]
Tracey Rae Palmer, Myrtle Beach, SC. I was told never to kiss a n***** or get close to them; they would only rob you or kill you for money. I found myself in collage in 1979 and a black man got an “A” in his class. With arms held wide and incredible excitement, he kissed […]
Corey, USA. 93%-95% of African-Americans voted for Obama in 2008 and 2012. Is it a coincidence that Obama is African-American? African-Americans can call each other “n*****” and freak out when white people use the word in a non-insulting way. They call white people crackers and they don’t care. If someone commits a crime towards an […]
Victoria N. Fortson, GA My ancestors came to America just like many others. Just because I am white, does not mean my family “owned” “slaves”. When an African American girl says to me “you’re so lucky to have that hair” or “I would pay a lot for some of your hair”, it makes me mad. […]
Keville Bowen, Chester, PA. I’m a Black man of three countries. Born in Trinidad, moved Canada and ended in America. Though I have little memory of Trinidad, my recollection of Canada and America are vastly different. I was only know as a Trini in Toronto and as I gained friends, I referred to them as […]
Erin Powell, Washington, DC. “Are you sure your dad is really black?” “If you imagine her with curly hair, you can tell she’s mixed.” “You look straight white, nothing else.” “Ugly half n*****.” Just a taste of the both disparaging and conflicting comments I’ve received on my YouTube vlog about my personal experience being biracial. […]
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 […]
Nzingha Shakur-Ali, Dallas, TX. First week of college, 1999, Abilene Texas. went to an off the way antique shop. The store owner didn’t want me there, and let me know it. About 5 other people in the store, all white, glaring at me.
Jackie Barclay USA Years ago, I had a run-in at a convenience store with a black woman who apparently hated me because I’m white. I didn’t know the woman and had never gone to that store before but she started calling me a huzz, a bitch, etc. Just when I was getting angry enough to […]
Julian Riggs Smith Durham, NH Growing up in a little town in Louisiana during the Second Word War, I found nothing strange about the fact that my white grandparents often ate breakfast and lunch at the kitchen table kitchen with ‘Stell, their black cook, and John, her husband–and that John and ‘Stell never ate with […]
Nell Date Trinidad It hard to think after all this, the black race still call them self n*****. I find my-self as a black woman that we still lack the respect for ourself. May be some days we can be mentally free. No one talk about this any more it is sad that we hold […]
V. Anne Spence, Powhatan, VA. Would I have been called a “N****” if my skin were white”? Growing up in El Barrio and the Bronx in New York City was I called the “N” word by a redheaded transit cop at 12. The last incident occurred in a store in here Virginia. I was in […]
Misha Kamau James Tyler Milwaukee, WI
Rachel Kroontje Morris, MN In the past several months, I almost dated two very nice guys who happened to be African American. To my shock and disgust, I had a very close friend who I would have never thought in a million years to be even slightly racist tell me, “It’s disgusting that you are […]
Mike L. Atlanta, GA I grew up in Atlanta GA during the 60’s. While I loved my grandparents I couldn’t understand why they thought the ice cream truck vendor was such a “nasty”, “dirty” and “diseased” man! “Mr. Jones” (as he politely asked us to call him) always had a smile on his face and […]
David T. Hill Jr. Flint, MI Stuck in the middle.
Sly Jones Bellinghmam, WA Amazing that this term was used so frequently as a child. Until I grew up, I never thought about it as being racist.
Taylor Hern Harrison, AR I was raised a white person in a very, very, very white town in Arkansas with a reputation of hanging people off bridges. A lot of people use the N word or use other out dated (or flat out offensively) terms when referring to African Americans or other minorities. Overcoming that […]
Rebecca Zeissler Salem, IL I was Kendra’s teenaged babysitter. One day, before he left for work, Kendra’s father gleefully showed me the new “trick” he was teaching his daughter. He turned on the TV and waited for a black person to appear on screen. When this happened, he pointed to the person and asked Kendra, […]
Betsy Twining Quinton, VA I feel like an idiot for not realizing, until I moved to Richmond, VA at the age of 38, that Jigaboo was a racial slur. I just thought it was a cute cat’s name.
Mary Leslie Tappahannock, VA I’m not racist, I don’t want to kill or torment people because they aren’t white like me. My mother taught me not to use the “N” word. But that isn’t a complete truth about racism. My mother taught me not to use that word by yelling at me to Never Ever […]
Vickie Diemer San Diego, CA ‘Overheard” at 14 years old…. radiating through the entire house.
Elmar David Czech Republic I come from Czech Republic. I was raised knowing that Roma people are less that us whites. That the white race is the to tier, and that I am very lucky I was born white. Nowadays I still have some friends who are raising their kids that way. I see CZ […]
Pamela Renkel St. Paul, MN I was 19, in a small, local technical school, with two newly transplanted students from Detroit, who were African American. I was having a conversation and used the “N” word while describing a racially charged event, which my sister was involved in. As the word came out of my mouth, […]
Jay Grabow Omaha, NE I’m a white, middle-aged, male that used to believe the racist stereotypes that I was taught growing up. Two events changed my thinking about race. One was a vicious fight I witnessed when a white teen bullied black teen over the fact that he was black. When the black teen fought […]
Thomas Hei Newcastle, WA It doesn’t matter if one uses the N-word maliciously or benignly not intending to harm, it can still be racist. If I accidentally hit someone in my car, I am still held accountable.
Elizabeth Cary New York City, NY I have done everything right in life, yet still I cannot get a cab, people lock their doors and cross the street when they see me coming, I’m stalked by salespeople in stores, I’m “suspicious” when I drive in a nice neighborhood or in a nice car, and my […]
Jay McCord Virginia Beach, VA I have worked as an actor and music video producer for over a decade and I am always uncomfortable when someone uses the N word in any context regardless of the originator. To me it continually ties our generation to the horrors of the countries past. Like Maya Angelou said […]
Auguste Budhram, USA. Anyone who has ever been in the minority remembers the first time a word knocked the wind out of them. As a child, my first time came packaged in a rhyme known by everyone– making the blow feel conspiratorial and that much worse. The rhyme is part of every 10 year- old’s […]
Emily MI Even though your ancestors were called that doesn’t mean you can call others that.
Arnold Westphal Monteray, CA In one generation my family has come from a time of accepted cultural racism to one of a blended race family and acceptance.
Elizabeth Koopman Cockeysville, MD These were the words spoken to me in 1994 by the president (now deceased) of the University of Maine at Machias regarding my work with the Wabanaki /Passamaquoddy peoples of Eastern Maine, (He followed these 6 words, “They better get used to it.”) This university president was a proud descendent of […]
Dale Jimison Henderson, TX This is what was said to me and my younger brother when we were kids all because we had approached a house that had a huge yard covered with leaves. We simply wanted to ask if we could rake the leaves for some money and the guys comes out of his […]
M. Griffin Tampa, FL As a public high school teacher I hear this word thrown around often and generally it is applied to brown skinned students. The exception is when your white and you’re “acting” like one of the brown-skinned students. I use the term “brown skinned” because many of the white students equate brown […]
Deborah King Bolingbrook, IL I was 7 years old the first time I had my hair straightened with a hot comb. For the next 25 years, my world revolved around the maintenance and condition of my hair. Moving to another city, the first order of business was to find a hair dresser. The never ending […]
Rebecca Lee Hammons Eugene, OR My race card goes out with deepest apologies to and admiration for the nine black students who first integrated the formerly all-white school system in Brookhaven, Mississippi, in 1967 — especially to the youngest of them, a fourth grader whom I taunted with these words. If I could only take […]
Kianna Young Sacramento, CA True Story. One day I was walking my dog down the street and talking to a friend on the phone, I see a guy walking in my direction but I didn’t pay him any attention. I didn’t even know him. He continues to walk down the street and I continue to […]
Darrell Penn Plainsboro, NJ
Jeanine McElwain, Davis, CA. “Another possibility was: What does N****r mean, Mom? (5 words) This is a question I had as a child in the early 1960’s, growing up in an all-white, working class neighborhood where white kids used the N word to tease/insult each other. When I first heard it, I thought it was […]
Janet Urban Aurora, IL I was raised in a small all-white town and never saw a black person except on TV until I was 17 (1975). From the first experience I was confused as to racism. What I saw was fellow human beings who happened to look different. From that point on I refused to […]
Joseph Reeves Paducah, KY Define the word N….. and get busy if it defines U! I am of confused heritage and descendant of lost stories. My history has been lost so I fight not to allow the Black Hole of my genetic pool to swallow me whole. Who am I? Why won’t they talk? I […]