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Still want to touch your hair

Brenda Becker, Brooklyn, NY. I grew up in a white Queens neighborhood where neighbors worried that “they” would “get in,” and the cool girls had straight sheets of hair. I was delighted to meet and make black friends at my all-girls Catholic high school. It was the 70s, and even as I struggled with my […]

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OSMONDS BETTER THAN JACKSON 5, WHY?

Juleah Richards, Chippewa Falls, WI. BORN IN 1960; ST.PAUL MINN. LIVED IN WONDERFULLY MIXED NEIGHBORHOODS IN SOUTH MINNEAPOLIS UNTIL I WAS 10YRS OLD. MY MOM MARRIED A FARMER FROM RED RIVER VALLEY. WE MOVED TO SPOT 10 MILES FROM NORTH DAKOTA AND 90MI FROM CANADA. THERE WERE ONLY SCANDINAVIANS AND FRENCH FOLKS. NONE OF MY […]

I didn’t know my first girlfriend was black.

Danny Zapler, Mount Prospect, IL. In hindsight, it is clear she is black. I knew about black and white people, but I just never saw her in racial terms. She was just the girl I liked in 6th grade. I only realized I was dating a black girl when a teenage boy on my block […]

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Neighborhood party we were not invited

Ninfa Pena-Purcell, College Station, TX. This picture of my parents captures a young Mexican American couple with aspirations to live the American dream in the 1950s only to find out that their family of six children would never be welcomed in their neighborhood. Years later this experience has stayed with me and made me resolve […]

Just a few feet from Home

Ronald E. Davis, Omaha, NE. I bought my first home in 2003 in a small middle class neighborhood in Western Omaha, Nebraska. My house is situated on a hill and I share a street with young and established families of various sizes. The demographics of the area are predominantly white. Over the years there has […]

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I’m surprised you speak so well.

E.C. Boyd, Canton, OH. I was not born, but I was raised in a predominantly white neighborhood because the school system was better in Perry Township than the low-income, mostly black Canton City Schools. As the only black person on my school’s debate team, I dealt with a lot of people surprised that I could […]

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I wouldn’t ride my bike naked!

Tricia Tillman, Portland, OR. I have a funny story about how race and gentrification interact. My son walked out the front door of our house which is in a neighborhood that is gentrifying and yelled back in “Mom, I just saw 2 naked people riding down the street!” When I walked outside, we heard an […]

Will you still talk to me?

Susan Duncan, Bristol, NH. When I was in the fourth grade, my family moved from Concord, North Carolina, to Leaksville (now Eden), North Carolina. Our street, Patrick Street, was parallel to Henry Street and the dividing line between the “white” neighborhood and the black/African-American neighborhood. Our next door neighbor, Miss Mary, had a large yard […]

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‘There Goes the Neighborhood: 1950-2050′

Margaret Denney, Snata Fe, NM. These images are details from my piece ‘There Goes the Neighborhood: 1950-2050′, addressing segregation in housing as well as changing demographics- a look at the past and a glimpse of the future. More at MargaretDenney.com

Race feels different everywhere you go

Sky, Skowhegan, ME. In mostly white places like Maine, I feel like there’s not very much obvious discrimination or prejudice. In 50/50 places like New Orleans, white people seems to live in rich neighborhoods like Uptown and the Garden district. The lower and upper ninth ward is where I lived. Mostly black people live there. […]

The look they gave us! Not love.

Robert Falcon Birmingham, AL Grew up in Birmingham in the 1960’s. My father never gave me cause to judge anyone else because of skin color. He always emphasized that it was the content of their character that really mattered. When I turned 16 one of my good friends introduced me to his family, his neighborhood, […]

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Be mighty whitey not humble honkey

Todd Johnston, Baltimore, MD. Tired of the violence and racism towards productive working white folks that gets swept under rug and buried by the media. Why am I racist for wanting the same respect as blacks, it’s ok for blacks to preach and say black power yet I’m scrutinized for just writing this. Recent web […]

You’re nice for a “white” girl

Colleen Schwab, Seattle, WA. I grew up in a very diverse area of CA where many children were first generation immigrants, and many children were of multi-racial backgrounds, mostly middle to lower class families. And my whole family has grown up with and around people from many different backgrounds. So I had no issue trying […]

I will not yield to you.

James Michael Rogers Houston, TX I was at my neighborhood park one morning jogging, and I saw three white women walking abreast in one direction, and a black woman coming towards them in the opposite direction. The white women ignored the black woman and no one stepped back to let the black lady pass, and […]

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When will the next one go

David Rotenstein, Atlanta, GA. In April 2012, I sat in an elderly African American woman’s Decatur, Ga.,dining room with a digital recorder asking her questions about gentrification in her neighborhood. For more than a decade, developers have been buying small homes and tearing them down to build large new homes some people call “McMansions.” The […]

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Anymore, afraid of what we represent.

Michele Wiemer, Brooklyn, NY. We have been in our neighborhood for coming on ten years and in that time it has changed from ‘Bed-Stuy’ to ‘Clinton-Hill’ to ‘Fort Green East’ as the realtors slowly remade and gentrified neighborhoods. Each economic surge carved out new districts and displaced our neighbors. The most recent insurgence of peoples […]

My stepbrother threatened to hang him.

Teagan Peacock, Syracuse, NY. There is only one African-American family in my rural neighborhood. My stepbrother got into a fight with one of the boys in the family and threatened to hang him. I was never more embarrassed in my life.

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Actually, I speak English very well.

Guadalupe Mitchell, Damascus, OR. Growing up, most people just saw a little brown Mexican girl. I remember when entered the second grade and my family had a moved to a predominantly white neighborhood, I was placed in an ESL classroom. My classmates made fun of me because my Spanish was not very good. After struggling […]

Black husband not “stolen” from you

Amanda Weller, Atlanta, GA. I’m an army brat, a former soldier, and an army wife. Of course I notice differences in skin color and culture (I’m not blind, or stupid); they simply take a back seat to the most important color in my life, a shared color: green. When I met my husband at the […]

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Yes, you can touch my hair.

Jarae Farrell, Poughkeepsie, NY. My father is West Indian and my mother is black. I grew up in a very diverse town in the northeast, so when I was younger I knew there were people who looked different than me, but race wasn’t really a thing for me until I was in high school. Even […]

That neighborhood is going downhill fast.

Janna Sakson, Pound Ridge, NY. This usually strikes me as code for “people of a darker color/race have been moving into the area.” I’m sure that’s not always the case, But when this is said, I’ve asked, “Is it still safe?” And there’s some hemming and hawing…so I wonder.

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I survived the white flight.

Misty Johnson, Lilburn, GA. I moved to Georgia in 1988 when I was 8 years old. My father left his job on the oil rigs to start his own landscaping company in Lithonia, Georgia. I was a minority at my elementary school back in Texas, which was predominately Hispanic. The move to Atlanta was different […]

Yes I do fear Black men

Rachel, Tulsa, OK. Black men are many times more likely than White men to be thieves, rapists, and murderers. When I see a Black person I am more fearful. This is a natural reaction, it is the same reason that most White people in my city live in White neighborhoods, because living in those Black […]

But I have a black friend.

MK, Baltimore, MD. A few moments in my “coming into adulthood” stand out as I am navigating the world of race. I remember probably 10 years back now that in conversation with my mother-in-law in a less-than-intellectual blue collar town her speaking of how racism towards white people was apparent in the area. She noted […]

Black teen boys scare white people.

Tim McGovern, Chicago, IL. I live in a racially integrated neighborhood on the South Side of Chicago. You go to the playgrounds and there are kids of all races playing together, parents talking over coffee and bonding over the crazy things that four-year-olds do. The public school kindergartens, first grades, second grades, third and fourth, […]

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Two white children in Halloween photo

Dave Parnell, Carrollton, TX. Our kindergarten daughter wanted to go to her friend’s Halloween party. I saw that the address and the protective father in me did not feel safe letting her go. But I called and the black man I spoke to certainly heard the fearful white father on the other end of the […]

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All races in family equals love

Val Andrew, Overland, MO. My parents taught us early on to accept all people and invited international college students of different races, religions, and nationalities to stay with us during holidays. During the Vietnam War we hosted an AFS student from Vietnam for a year. I grew up a few miles from Ferguson and taught […]

Black Skin? Conditional Acceptance In Society

Barry M., Canada. Whether at work, in school, in a neighbourhood… especially a new one you moved to, as a Black person, especially as a Black man your acceptance is conditional. Your every mistake is taken as a reason you do not belong. When you do right no one notices. Anyone is allowed to make […]

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You don’t really look that black.

Linda D. Calvin, Westfield, IN. I am one of five siblings, but I am the only one who is black. My brothers and sisters, cousins, nieces, nephews, great nieces, uncles and aunts are white. After three children and a divorce, my mother met and married a black man in the 60s and had me. I […]

No One Is Better Than You…

Kim Skillern Samuels, Cleveland Heights, OH. I lived in a neighborhood of black people, and went to an inner city public school. When friends found that I’d be moving to the suburbs they teased me, and said “Those honkeys are gonna chase you home from school.” At the age of six I thought a “honkey” […]

Nice small town has race issues.

Sara Przybylski Stevens Point, WI People think this is a great place to live, work, and raise kids… and it is. Just under the surface, though, there’s a little more going on. I grew up here. I saw my first African American person at the grocery store at the age of four-ish and loudly complimented […]

A child, called a white pig.

M. Landrum Atlanta, GA I grew up poor in a mixed neighborhood in south Atlanta. My two best friends were white and black, and for the most part we all got along. One day my white friend was angry and called my black friend a n*****, and even though I’d never heard the word I […]

NO SYMPATHY NO GUILT FOR BLACKS

Christine Miller Chicago, IL Blacks cause all their own problems then whine and cry about the results. They moved into my neighborhood and my moms and within 1 year the crime rate had started in BOTH. The property value dropped like a stone and then no one could get out.

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I hate hearing “The neighborhood changed.”

Glenny Brock , Birmingham, Al. Submitted via Twitter: @glennybrock   Always code. In fact, most of the people I’ve heard say this were people who themselves CHANGED neighborhoods by leaving.     Glenny’s 6Word essay launched an interesting exchange via Twitter, follow along below…How do you weigh in on the topic?  Comment below. I hate […]

Are you sure you’re not black?

Dave Mowers Brooklyn, NY I live inbetween black and white neighbors, my boss is a Phillipino woman, I shop and eat in black and white owned stores and restaurants in my neighborhood. Orthodox Jews sign my paycheck. I teach students from around the world. My boyfriend grew up in a small town in Texas in […]

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Integration ended my neighborhood’s block party.

Shoshana Hoose Portland, OR I grew up in an all-white neighborhood in Newington, Ct. My mother’s best friend, a Quaker, and her husband sold their home to an African-American family in 1966 as part of an organized effort to integrate the Hartford suburbs. My Dad, a lawyer and state legislator, handled the legal work. When […]

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I will never really ‘get it’.

Celia Beasley, Seattle, WA. Being an upper-middle class white woman, I know I will never truly understand what it feels like to be a person of color in America. Despite my attempts to be aware of racism in this county through conversations, news stories, interviews, books, this website, etc, I know that I will never […]

White, asked to leave shoe store

Steven Smith Lake Grove, NY My parents raised me race neutral. I grew up in an integrated neighborhood, and racism didn’t come on my radar until I was around 6-7 years old. People hating people because of the color of their skin was just…ridiculous. While on a business trip to Atlanta in the early 90’s, […]

Black friends’s father forbid our friendship.

Patricia Armstrong St. Louis, MO I was no more than 7 years old and made friends with a black girl in the neighborhood. We really had a lot of fun together and my family did not object. After a few weeks, I was invited to her house. After her father saw my white skin, he […]

That ghetto “white” girl. Paper minority.

Shaylee Reichardt Portland, OR Growing up in not the nicest of neighborhoods, I was always everybody’s one “white” friend. They didn’t see me for all of my ethnic background. I guess I’m just the white girl who is only a paper minority. They cant see my whole family.

You can not cross Father Lawler’s street

Joseph L Collins Jr Omaha, NE Ashland Avenue in Chicago was the street you could not west of it at 69th street or you would get beat up by White men/boys in the early 60’s. A white priest was a defender of the neighborhood that let that hate happen. God is about Love and that […]

Year 2013, my town is segregated.

Tara Cartwright Winchester, KY My town is still segregated, but is so much the normal that we don’t realize it. I didn’t realize it until I saw a movie on Lifetime called For Just One Night or Only One Night starring Raven Simone and realized that is exactly how my hometown is. Everyone stays in […]

White, raised in black community. Grateful.

Amanda Becker Clarksville, TN Race has been the dominant subject of my life. I am the only white person on my page in my Senior yearbook (in north St. Louis). It wasn’t a racially harmonious experience, there were times which were downright ugly, usually because I looked like someone who made you mad, but I […]

No racists here; we are gated.

Peter Goodwin New York, NY We have separated ourselves into separate communities, sometimes with physical gates, often with mental or emotional gates, and so have very little contact with the ‘other’. And we can pretend that that we have no residue of racism in our emotional make-up while never having any contact with people of […]

Privileged white woman opening my eyes

Eileen Kugler Springfield, VA Those of us who benefit from white privilege and from middle-class privilege need to constantly be aware of how our lives are different from a person of color. Walking with my son on a cold rainy day in early April, I watched him nonchalantly pull his hood up as we walked […]

Read Ralph Bunche’s comments about race

Richard C Evansville, IN Dr. Ralph Bunche was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his UN activities after world war II. He had remarkable people skills, intelligence, negotiating skills, humility and congeniality. The NAACP gave him the Spingarn Medal for his great work and he said “There need be no more Spingarn Medals nor any […]

You white boys sure run fast!

Edward Schenkenfelder Oak Forest, IL I grew up in the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s in Cicero, Illinois. Back then the city’s zero black American population was strictly enforced. I worked at the Bel-Air Drive In with a Black youth about 17 years old. He said “my six words” after being chased by a group of […]

Sorry we don’t service that neighborhood

Ingrid Monson Newton, MA I’m white but lived in a black neighborhood in Chicago for part of the 1990s. I tried to get a plumbing firm from a nearby white neighborhood to come and clear a sewer pipe blocked by a tree root. Everything was fine until I gave him the address of the house […]

Attorney, Ivy League, still another n*****

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 […]

Tail the black guy buying moscato.

Erik Aurora, CO I was in a mixed-race neighborhood, in line at a convenience store behind a black man checking out with a white clerk. He asked if there were any larger sizes of the wine he was buying. After the clerk said he wasn’t sure, he went back into the store to look himself. […]

Blue eye, brown eye, eye opening.

Keith F Thompson, Brookline, NH. Growing up as a white male in generally liberal surroundings, I assumed so much. I assumed I knew what racism looked like, and I assumed I would never witness it firsthand.Seeing the Oprah Winfrey Show do the Blue Eye/Brown Eye experiment on their audience was very revealng to me. Overt […]

Alright if I look at you?

Margaret Snyder South Portland, ME I live in a predominately “white” city, but one where there are over 60 languages spoken. I see people of all colors around the city, and I find the languages, clothing, and colors to be enjoyable to experience, but I often feel it is not okay to stop and observe […]

Lifetime in slipstream of white flight

Richard Bacon Chicago, IL Mid 1970s living in perfectly nice middle class neighborhood in NE Dallas Texas. The desecration, by busing, of the neighborhood school (which was mediocre anyway) caused about half the families with school age children to move out in one summer. My best friend moved. Those of us who stayed were dispersed […]

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No, not the nanny… They’re MINE.

Valerie Grajeda Rountree, San Jose, CA. I grew up not speaking Spanish in a very Mexican neighborhood. My mother sent me to schools out of my area to prevent me getting involved with the local gang population. I grew up with other nationalities and met my future husband in high school. He is white. Our […]

White girl. Black school. Called “slave owner.”

Erin Murphy Barling, AK I grew up in a mostly African American neighborhood outside Miami, Florida. My friends never made me feel out of place but the other 60% of the students at the schools I attended sure did. My great-grandparents were immigrants -on one side of the family I was third generation American. That […]

You didn’t grow up in LA

Eileen Spillman Wilsonville, OR That was the line my husband threw at me whenever we argued about his burgeoning racism. I had grown up in a small lily-white town in Oregon where, he told me, it is easy to love all the races because they aren’t your next-door-neighbors. I hadn’t lived through the LA riots […]

Why do people steal from us?

Peter Chin Washington, DC That was the question that my daughter asked me when our house was broken into a second time in three years. As a Korean-American living and working in a predominantly African-American neighborhood, I was tempted to answer her question by telling her about the long-standing hostilities between the two groups. But […]

I blend in, wherever I go.

Brenda Footer Silver Spring, MD I live in a very diverse neighborhood, where many El Salvadoran and Dominican families live. People are always trying to speak to me in Spanish, because I have olive skin and dark hair. I’m as white as can be, but it’s always been this way. Italians assume I’m Italian, Latinos […]

I avoid people that are different.

Jill Noeh Ann Arbor, MI Understanding Race Project-The University of Michigan Explanation: I’ve found that throughout my life, I have avoided people who look and act differently than me. I grew up in a white neighborhood that was sheltered from people who were different. At first it wasn’t me purposefully trying to avoid these people, […]

My neighborhood was notorious for racism.

Julie Simon Los Angeles, CA In 1959, members of the Collins Park community (New Castle, Delaware) firebombed the home of one of the first Black families to move into the neighborhood. On the second occasion, the house was destroyed. Historian Yohuru Williams has written about this event and it is included in the Encyclopedia of […]

There’s a lot of ‘pepper’ here.

Penny Miceli Keene, NH This is what my husband and I (both white) were told by our realtor (also white) when driving through a neighborhood in Toledo, Ohio while searching for our first home as a young couple. She meant to dissuade us from buying in the neighborhood. Perhaps because of our shared race, she […]

Skin is white, race is HUMAN!

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 […]

Surrounded by black, but still white.

Robert Lanza Tucson, AZ I grew up in NYC as one of the very few white kids in the neighborhood, and for the most part the only one in my terrace. Had a black stepfather. It shaped me, and made me who I am. Anyone who really knows me knows it is not possible for […]