Watched the tanks come down street.

Moira O’Connell, Morristown, NJ. I lived in East Orange during (and after) the 1967 Newark riots. I remember standing on my front porch at around 7 years old watching tanks come down my street (186 4th Avenue) heading into Newark. My parents used to act as shills — going into apartment buildings to confirm there […]

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Mommy, I want to be Vanilla.

Jasmin Marie Harpe, Burlington, NJ. It has been hard to fit in to both societies growing up as a biracial child, especially being in academia where there are few people who look like me. I had a lot of race issues growing up with my father who has very fair skin, and my mother who […]

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The Asian/Pacific Islander category is very enticing.

Cheryl Mercado Arnedt, West Orange, NJ. My grandmother and her sister — red-headed daughters of NYC cops — both married full Filipino men and were disowned. There was no race in our family – just rice AND potatoes at every meal. My grandfather “Pupa” intentionally didn’t pass down his Asian-ness or his language Tagalog so […]

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I am Mexican when its convenient

John Heath Olguin, West Orange, NJ. Before you get all worked up about my 6 words. Let me explain. I watched a little boy of Mexican-American decent sing our national anthem and thought nothing of it. The next day I read about all the negative comments that came about of his performance (see link) and […]

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Your bar is down the street.

Ronald Zeigler, North Brunswick, NJ. I was stationed at Parris Island going to Personnel school. I was from New York and with my three New Jersey (also Black) friends went into Beaufort, SC. We walked into a bar and my friend said “three beers, please”. I was at the jukebox looking for Motown and finding […]

Racism stops when we respect everyone.

Kathleen E Lo Pinto Vignolini, Long Branch, NJ. No other group, except maybe the Jews, have had such a long period of discrimination against them. From Slavery, to post Civil war (the North won the battle, but lost the war!) of Jim Crow, “separate but equal” led to Segregation both de facto & legalized, all […]

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Whites say Hispanic, Hispanics say White

Renee Lewin Asutin, TX My mother is Mexican-American from the Rio Grande Valley, my father is white from Orange, NJ. I was raised in a home where English was primarily spoken, but Spanish was still commonly heard. As I was growing up I viewed myself primarily as Mexican. I spent most of my time with […]

We are all the same, HUMAN

Jacque Howard Tenton, NJ Growing up in Central NJ as well as my diverse educational and professional experiences. I have come to the belief that humans do not recognize other humans who look differently as the same. I believe most people want the best for themselves and others, the hard part is living in a […]

Are you black? You look so …

Nicole Collins Bronzan Rahway, NJ I’m a mutt — black, Native America, Irish, you name it — raised all over the world as a military brat. I consider myself black, but depending on where I am (and how tan), I get all kinds of questions, though substantially less so in a diverse city like NYC.

Mind wide, self-education comes free

Edward Darden Washington, DC Every American black person, who succeeds is and was self-educated to a great extent, at least in the beginning. When children are young, the chains around their minds and bodies are able to be broken with a Will to reach farther than what is in front of them. In this way, […]

Mom, talk about your “black firsts.”

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 […]

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Slave Descendants of Nelson County Virginia

Derek Nicholas, Newland, NJ. Hello, my name is Derek G. Nicholas. I am going to tell you a fascinating story of the descendants of Cabell family slaves located in Nelson County, Virginia. This is not just the story of my directly related ancestors stemming from a single individual bloodline… but an intriguing story of an […]

But you’re not really black

K. Louis East Brunswick, NJ Growing up, I had a lot of misconceptions about my race. My mother is black and was born in England, and firmly considered herself British even though her father had his roots in Jamaica. I could remember one time were watching a news story were two African American males were […]

Yes, she’s *really* my daughter!

Barbara Schmidt Metuchen, NJ We are a caucasian couple that adopted our daughter from Southeast Asia. Random people in the supermarket make dumb comments and children have asked where is her real mom. We must carry her adoption paperwork when we travel internationally, since passport control sometimes questions whether she is really our daughter. School […]

Torn. Frijoles charros or apple pie?

Inga Paterson-Zuniga West Orange, NJ I am a German-Scottish Spanish teacher, born and raised in the USA. I learned to see the world through multi-colored lenses after living for several years in Mexico, marrying into a Mexican family and acquiring a love of all things Mexican. As a middle school Spanish teacher I hope to […]

“I didn’t expect to see you”

Mensah Cone Livingston, NJ I’m the owner of a start-up Mandarin school. After completing a presentation of my school’s offerings to a principal in an urban school, the principal said, “Mensah, that was a fantastic presentation”. She expressed sincere interest in the program for her students. While packing my materials, she said, “I didn’t expect […]

Actually, yes….I DO see color…

Kristy Straub Woodberry Heights, NJ It has ALWAYS annoyed me (since I can remember) when people say “I don’t see color” in an effort to demonstrate their acceptance/tolerance of those different from themselves…… but how offensive that actually is: “I refuse to acknowledge where you come from because our differences may cause tension so I […]