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Who lives here? You or him?

Beth Brawley, Columbia, SC. My son is mixed race and when he was young a neighbor had a cousin over. They wanted to shoot a pellet rifle at cans. I told the neighbor and cousin they needed permission and I would supervise. The little boy who was visiting asked who lived at the house I […]

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Ashamed to be a White American

Maria, Lakeland, FL. I’m Italian, so have to identify as white. Do I stand with ‘Christian white america’? No. Race, oritentation, even hair color are not things I judge people on. “Love your neighbor as yourself”, period. No If’s And’s or But’s about it.

10 Mile Move Flipped the Grid

Tessa D, Chicopee, MA. As a young child, we moved from a mostly black neighborhood to a nearly all white suburb. The background music of my life changed. There really wasn’t any background music anymore. The neighbor kids who came to visit were no longer just the neighbor kids. Judgement and difference took on meaning, […]

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Mzungu: Kenyans say, white skin human heart

Crystal Gregory, Kenya. An American by birth, I live in East Africa. Here my neighbors assume because of my skin I am rich, beautiful, or have extra love to share. I offend neighbors when I refuse to have a househelper or a driver or even, really, detest having a security guard or the other ‘helpers’ […]

Neighbor says, “She doesn’t look black.”

Nicole Smeltekop, East Lansing, MI. At Michele Norris’s talk in East Lansing last night, a woman said this to me as Ms. Norris came on stage. The prevailing assumption that as a white person, white people can comfortably make racial comments they most likely wouldn’t say to anyone other than another “obviously” white person is […]

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How soft black hair is. . . surpise

Charlotte, Houston, TX. I grew up close to African Americans. They were guests in our home and people on the bus with us. I never noticed how taboo touching was between us until I was 30 and a neighbor girl came over to play with my kids. She skinned her knee and as I hugged […]

You can’t be friends with her

Rosie W. Tucson, AZ When I was in the third grade in the sixties, my best friend and neighbor was Joyce, who was Japanese. She was wonderful. When my mother found out, she let me know, albeit gently and with compassion, that my father would be terribly hurt by my friendship because he had fought […]

Prejudice: never genetic, but often inherent.

Cynthia W Kaleh Rochester, NY At a very young age, my first best friend was a black girl who lived on the next block. I was so young that when told she couldn’t come over anymore, I just accepted the statement. Her family eventually moved away and though never consciously forgotten; it was over 30 […]

I will burn the house down.

Eric Chesapeake Beach, MD 1974, I was 14 years old; my dad was in the Army, we were moving to Ohio from Weaver, Alabama. The house we lived in we rented. The owner was selling the house and the realtor was in the driveway talking to my dad one day. The neighbor came over to […]