Bettina Sferrino, Oakland, CA. As a mixed race person, I get these questions all the time. The persons asking have a strong desire to know and place the “other,” and a feeling that somehow the persons asking these questions can’t move forward interacting with me without knowing that information. I can’t help but think for […]
Renee Bracey Sherman. Oakland, CA. “Can I touch your hair?” they ask, hand already extended, a mere inch from my thick brown curls. I feel invaded. Living as a biracial woman isn’t the easiest thing in the world. People come up to me with an inquisitively tilted head and say “What are you?” If I […]
Cedric Bedford-Chalale, Oakland, CA. Black people play the race card because that is the only card dealt to black people by white America. It’s a reality….
Richard Haynie, Oakland, CA. I walked into a roadside tavern near Allentown PA that had several motorcycles parked outside. Loving bikes, I thought nothing of it. Inside, a motorcycle “club” were the only patrons on that Sunday morning. I ordered some food and, despite a warning from the proprietor, decided to stay and eat there. […]
Jonnie Pekelny, Oakland, CA.
Earlaine Williams, Oakland, CA. This is the question that was asked of me, when I was 17 years old, by the white man who was administering the driver test at the Depratment of Motor Vehicles in Richmond, CA in 1960. I was behind the wheel and he was the person who would determine whether or […]
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 […]
Sharmila Guha, Oakland, CA. It was my first summer job after high school. A man in the lunch room one day tried to ask shy me this odd questions… which just left me stunned. I was born and raised in Los Angeles; why wouldn’t I speak English well? I guess the “dad from India and […]
Marika Oakland, CA People often ask me “What are you?” or “Where are you from?” which is par for the course for people like me who are ambiguously brown looking, which is how I’ve come to refer to myself. Over time I’ve noticed my attitude toward other people who ask these questions changing. I used […]
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 […]
Ali Iranmanesh, Oakland, CA. It took me a long time to realize that no matter what you accomplish in your life, people still at times view you through their own hazy and distorted lens of what and who you should be.
Jarrod H., Oakland, CA. I am a junior at Bishop O’dowd High School in Oakland, CA, in the English class of Ms. Sarah Tunik.
Jay Bailinson Napa, CA In lived in Oakland CA. during preteen and early teen years. I belonged to a Boys Club sponsored by the Chinese Presbyterian Church in Oakland’s China town area. I played on sport teams in a church leagues sponsored by this church. I was one of two white boys on the team […]
Nathan Henderson-James, Oakland, CA. 6 words is obviously limiting. However, my 6 reflect my own experience growing up as one of the few white kids in my local public schools. It was an education being constantly in the minority (in school, outside of those walls, I was comfortably back in a white affluent world) and […]
Lyndsey Wong, Oakland, CA. I am a junior at Bishop O’Dowd High School in Oakland, CA, in the English class of Ms. Sarah Tunik.
Ruomeng Huang, Oakland, CA. “I am a international junior student at Bishop O’dowd High School in Oakland, CA, in the English class of Ms. Sarah Tunik.
Olivia Olmos, Oakland, CA. I am a junior at Bishop O’Dowd High School in Oakland, CA, in the English class of Ms. Sarah Tunik–s
Axel Broome, Oakland, CA. “I am a junior at Bishop O’dowd High School in Oakland, CA, in the English class of Ms. Sarah Tunik–
Danielle Stewart, Oakland, CA.
Yodassa Williams, Oakland, CA. Whenever I speak freely around strangers, I am reacted to as if I am an alien for being black but not “sounding black”. “You speak so well” they say, leaving out the ending, “for a black girl.” I’m irritated and saddened by the insult that a black person’s use of proper […]
Fess Makame Justice, Oakland, CA. This is a quote by Shakespeare who helped organize the Bible.
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 […]
Jules Jeung, Union City, CA. At this very moment, as I write this, destruction is going on in Oakland due to the decision of the grand jury in the Michael Brown/Ferguson case. I grew-up in Oakland. I hate having negative thoughts about another race and their experience in this country. I hate feeling like a […]
Sheila Islam, Oakland, CA. You do not win a prize if you get it right. People hardly ever guess it right and thats not exactly the problem. The problem is, that when people do this, I feel objectified. I feel like my physical appearance is being ripped from me and being judged. I am so […]
Benjamin Christy Laguna Niguel, CA This is the title of John Lydon’s autobiography, which refers to his upbringing as an Irishman in London. He was reminded of how the Irish were despised and how there used to be signs in apartment buildings and hotels that expressed their displeasure with these three races. I used to […]
Rob Silva Oakland, CA First generation with Indo-Dutch/ El Salvadoran heritage. Family has seemingly always been the non-white in the group, especially when listening to the my parents’ stories of assimilation. So strange then when my son was bullied at his new school in Berkeley for being the white kid.
Monika L. Brooks Oakland, CA My Son still has to be given the talk about how he has to ignore the people that think he should be “less than” because of what he looks like. He is 12.
Paul Hanchock Oakland, CA Almost every assertion about race is pushed to extremes, but most people aren’t extremist. The public mostly sees stories about people who exceed the boundaries of rationality and good sense.
F. Delvin Washington Oakland, CA We still have a long way to go.
Lina Oakland, CA Im 50/50 black and white and I’m tired of never fitting in to one social scene. Either im too “rachet” to hang out with the white kids or I’m too “white” to hang out with anyone else.
Lina Shaheed Oakland, CA I’m mixed with black and white, but have lighter skin color. Im tired of being considered a “wannabe black girl” when thats that 50% of me is anyways. Always seen as the rich, privileged, white girl. Thats not ME.
Akaya Windwood Oakland, CA Hated hearing that. I must have heard that 100 times when I was young.
Lisbet Mingo Oakland, CA What it feels like to share everything with those closest to you–except the color of your skin. And how that changes everything…
Caty Salas Oakland, CA Being a guessing game gets old. PC-ness has cut down on questions like “What are you?”, “What color are you?”, and “Is that really your hair?”, all of which used to sincerely baffle me when I was a kid. Now they just ask me where I’m from. Endlessly. I am from […]
Michelle Hill, Oakland, CA. Our family is so fortunate that my great, great, great grandparents were not separated from each other and their children during slavery. Because the family stayed together, we have a family Bible, pictures and records that document their lives in this country. My great grandmother, Mama Lizzie, was born in 1870 […]
Gabriela Rivero Oakland, CA What’s it like being a Latina living the United States? It’s not always the most easiest thing. You have people coming up to you asking you if you can speak English. “Of course I can” I think to myself. What kind country do we will in where people are being judged […]
Ricardo Oakland, CA I was recently asked at a garden store if I did landscaping. I am a Mexican-American male, who is also a sergeant for a medium sized city police force in the Bay Area. I must say I was dressed shabbily, driving a small pick up, a lime tree in the cab, a […]
Clyde Jasper Oakland, CA I’m a tall black man with dreadlocks. I’m a husband and a father. I’m a property owner, and a taxpayer. I’m a veteran. I vote. I graduated Phi Beta Kappa from a world class university in Berkeley, CA. In passing, I many times acknowledge a white persons presence and humanity with […]
Olga Kazakova Oakland, CA I was robbed at a gun point by two black men a couple of years ago. Now when I see black men walking towards me and no people around I cross the street. Does it make me a racist? I live in a very beautiful, diverse but high crime city.
Sally Oakland, CA I am white but I grew up in Alabama where my tan skin and my dark hair and eyes made everyone question my ethnicity and ask my blonde haired blue eyed mother if I was adopted. I’ve been asked “What are you?” all of my life and now that I’m married to […]
Jack Faulkner Oakland, CA Atttended an “interracial dialogue” in a psychiatric clinic in 1966. The two sides, black and white were polarized. Finally, a blind man said he had been lisrening carefully but could not understand what the conflict was all about. He concluded: “You see, I am a member of a third minority.”
Suzy Spradlin Oakland, CA My beautiful bi-racial granddaughters have helped me shed the fears of difference. I recommend the experience!
Deborah Lewis Oakland, CA Howard had a girlfriend. But, we used to chat at work. He invited me to go get pizza with him. I asked my parents who were incredibly strict. My mom said that I could not go because Howard was black and if other boys saw me with him, they would never […]
Anne Janks Oakland, CA Many privileged white people who live in the Bay Area of California believe that there’s a high level of tolerance and little prejudice here. White moms steer their child away from a seat next to my 7 year old boy. We went to the county fair and the seat next to […]
Elizabeth Alford Oakland, CA White privilege goes wholly unnoticed and unacknowledged by a lot of white folks. Talking about it often makes people defensive. I recognize my white privilege every time I come up to a street corner with a person of color already waiting to cross, and cars stop for my white skin and […]
Mary Oakland, CA Wherever I am living in this country also affects my racial/cultural identity
Joe DiPietro Oakland, CA As a short, dark white guy who’s been called “kike,” “spic,” and “raghead” by white guys, “gringo” or “anglo” by Hispancis, “dago” and “WOP” by blacks, I’ve learned what voice I have in the discussion about race and ethnicity. None. Yeah, I know–I haven’t lived the oppression. I’ll be a good […]
Dominic Lim Oakland, CA Like many 1st generation Filipino-American children, my parents never taught me Tagalog (Filipino), because they wanted me and my siblings to speak perfect English. And though I appreciate that they wanted to protect us from racism and bullying regarding any sort of accent we might get from learning Tagalog — I’m […]
Michelle Ternus Oakland, CA
Carlos Rodriguez Oakland, CA I’m a typical Mexican-American teenager, who eats beans and tortillas every day. When I hear people who are unaware say, ” We should just deport the Mexicans, they’re taking our jobs.” I can’t help but say something. Mexicans work hard everyday with low wages. If you notice, Mexicans work as janitors, […]
Emily Miller Oakland, CA I shouldn’t have been surprised when my youngest daughter was born with White skin, blue eyes, and blonde hair. She looks just like her Dadddy. But she doesn’t look like me. My eldest daughter has my brown skin, eyes, and hair. But I still shouldn’t have been surprised. I’m mixed race. […]
Danielle Taylor Oakland, CA Yes, we really exist. Thank you for doing this Michele. It is incredibly important.
Erika Malinoski Oakland, CA When I was in college, I ran psychology experiments on volunteer college students, and I was always perfectly comfortable running the experiment late at night alone in the building except for the participant. Until I went to do the exact same thing I’d done a hundred times with a Black participant. […]
Liz Hohl Oakland, CA Race is so intrinsically linked and correlated to wealth, education, and power. I frequently consider my surroundings and realize how few daily interactions I have with people who are not white. My job, my community, my wealth accentuate disparities and separations that fall along lines of ethnicity and skin color. In […]
Charles Z Carroll Oakland, CA
Shareef Ali Oakland, CA Indigenous genocide, human bondage and global imperial conquest are not made moot by just changing attitudes. We have to change this whole system.
Paula J. Currie-Raymond Oakland, Montreal All of my youth I felt less than; however, I was never sure why that was. I spent a lot of time asking myself the question – never in a conscious way, but rather in the subconscious. I lived all of my youth in a neighborhood where most families were […]
Charles Reynolds Oakland, CA From time to time my black family or friends of color will receive an odd “complement.” Apparently our fluid command of the English language is worthy of an at-a-boy. The, “wow, you’re articulate!” observations do not always smack of adulation but bigotry. Before you “compliment” in this way ask yourself a […]
Marcie Shafter Oakland, CA
Leo Howard Galloway Oakland, CA Retired military. As PIC of the annual Veteran’s day celebration at St. Benedict Catholic Church, I knew despite the outcome of the election I would have to stand before my church family regardless. That Sunday, November 11, 2012 I was able in uniform to stand tall before them and say […]
Dacia Mitchell Oakland, CA
Nate Hoffmann Oakland, CA I am a student in Ms.Tunik’s English class at Bishop O’ Dowd High School
Anthony F Castro Valley, CA Student of Ms. Tunik @ Bishop O’Dowd High School in Oakland, CA
Taylor J Oakland, CA Student of Ms.Tunik at Bishop O’Dowd High School in Oakland, CA.
Alexis C. Oakland, CA Student of Ms. Tunik at Bishop O’ Dowd High School in Oakland, Ca.
Michael A. Kroll Oakland, CA Submitted via: NPR’s Talk of the Nation
David Levine Oakland, CA Submitted via: NPR’s Talk of the Nation