Who are you without racial identity

Greg Johnson, Maineville, OH. After all is said and done, we are each individuals who live and breathe. We happen to occupy this or that body, but that body is not us. It’s not who we are. It can have a tremendous effect on who we are, but it does not have to define us […]

Heritage not hate? Heritage of hate.

Ava Chamberlain, Dayton, OH. I don’t understand the phrase “heritage not hate.” It suggests the two are mutually exclusive categories. In reality, the heritage of the Confederate battle flag cannot be separated from a deeply entrenched hatred of people of color.

Being gay has taught me compassion.

Thomas Swinscoe Akron, OH I grew up in a time when being gay was even more of a challenge than it is today. As a white, male of English/German descent who was raised Christian, I have come to see my sexual identity as a gift. I believe much the insight and empathy I enjoy is […]

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Was all the suffering worth it?

Tamara G. Cincinnati, OH When thinking of which six words I would use for The Race Card Project I had to ponder for a bit. I automatically thought of the fact that I am Jewish. Being so, I often get questioned about what holidays I celebrate or why we do certain things. Going to BGSU […]

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Red head mother angry unbroken strong

Erica Stone, Perrysburg, OH. The process I went through to get these words where things that I’m going through right now in my life or what people notice about me first. Some of the words I thought of came naturally while others I had to put more thought into them. The reason I decided to […]

Don’t paint blue eyes. It hurts.

Marcia Hartsock, Cincinnati, OH. I’m an illustrator, and Caucasian. In the 1980s, I was painting a wall mural in my integrated church that included a large eye that I had painted blue. A group of African American women friends from the church approached me and shared their thoughts and feelings about blue eyes. I have […]

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Race does not exist, racism does.

Sarah Brush, Delaware, OH. I have friends that are of other races and I don’t care about their skin tone or how they look. I look deeper than that. The term race is constantly brought up when talking about racism. I don’t think race truly exists. Yes people have different skin tones. But we are […]

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I’m tan, but I’m not Mexican

Gabriella, Delaware, OH. Just because my skin is naturally olive, everyone thinks im foreign, I have gotten many different ethnicity such as, Puerto Rican, Cuban, Moroccan, Brazilian, and Latino, and Hispanic. But I’m white.

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Dwayne Fries; the other white Dwayne.

Dwayne Lee Fries, Columbus, OH. My name is Dwayne, and I’m white. Hi Dwayne! I was unwittingly named Dwayne. Two weeks before my taking over an inner city restaurant as a General Manager, my name was on a schedule. I heard all the stories of how everyone was like, “finally, we got a brother in […]

When we run out of “firsts”

Greg Hudgison Columbus, GA I am hopeful that one day race will the last part of the conversation, and not the first. My six words refer to when another race is the first to accomplish something. I believe we will make progress when we are out of the first race to accomplish a task or […]

All I’ve got is the food.

Kelsey Cleveland, OH I’m Lebanese/Irish but grew up solely around my Lebanese family. However they rarely acknowledged where we came from. The closest I’ve gotten to my heritage is through food: being taught how to make baklava, seeing big bowls of hummus, baba ghanouj, and tabbouleh surrounded by stacks of fresh pita bread at parties, […]

No black kids in my school

Howard T. Uhal, Mentor, OH. I attended twelve years of public school in the town of Mentor, Ohio, birthplace of President James A. Garfield. To the best of my knowledge, there was not a single black kid in the school system, and perhaps none in the entire town. This was in the 1954-1966 time frame. […]

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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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What do you mean “White Latino?”

Andrea Fabiola Vazquez, Ridgefield, CT. I grew up in Ohio, but both of my parents are from Mexico. I speak Spanish, most of my extended family lives in Mexico, and I identify very much as a Mexican American. Still, when people ask me where my family is from—and people as me this a lot—they are […]

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Discovering others judgments after finding love.

Lauren Bing, North Canton, OH. A little over two years ago, my eyes were opened to the unspoken opinions of the people closest to me. I met a guy who had such a great personality, we got along so well and he treated me like I deserved nothing less than being treated right. I couldn’t […]

As you wish to be treated.

Patrick Kenyon, Hamilton, OH. There is a black family living next to me. They would play the stereo loud at night and wake my kids up. They would bang on the walls, leave knives in the front yard, trash etc. After a short while I knocked on their door and asked them to stop banging […]

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I pray for my son everyday

J Hill, Canton, OH. I am the proud mother of three children, two girls and a boy. They are all adults now. Every mother worries about her children. But I feel especially concerned for my son. He has done everything well so far in his life, entering his senior year in college, no kids, hardworking, […]

Terrified to Discuss Race Because I’m White

Hanne, Columbus Grove, OH. I grew up in a primarily white upper class community. Anyone in my town that are of a different ethnicity or race were adopted and brought into the community. I grew up being told to stay away from the topic of race because it will offend others. When I started college […]

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I am who I’ll always be

Cassandra, Cleveland, OH. The process I went through to identify those six words is by realizing the six words that mean the most to me. What I mean by this is that those words explain who I am in short for everyone. I thought about what I felt was most important to me and, what […]

I look white; perception is reality.

Mary Halling, Milwaukee, WI. Moving from New York to Ohio to Milwaukee in my 25 years on this Earth, I’ve encountered race in so many different ways. From celebrating and learning about all the different ethnicities in my classroom in elementary school, being bullied for being white in my urban middle school, to being incorrectly […]

Are there any other seats?

Samantha, Cincinnati, OH. I work in Planet Snoopy at Kings Island, and it horrifies me how many times parents will ask this or have their children wait, just so that they will not sit by someone of another race. I hate seeing how the children are being conditioned to hate others because of their skin.

White nurse. Inner city hospital. Disaster

Liz Kelly, Cleveland, OH. The big insight happened when I couldn’t understand the language no matter how hard I tried, although it was English. Knowing it was deliberate. Realizing “This is what marginalized people feel all the time– knowing they are hated without anyone knowing their thoughts or feelings or who they are.” Later I […]

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“White” papers over identity and background.

Catherine Kehl, Cleveland Heights, OH. When we divide ourselves into “us” and “other” we don’t only lose the other, we lose ourselves. I was twenty-seven before I realized that my mother sometimes spoke to me in Spanish not because she’d picked some up in college before travelling in South America in her twenties, but because […]

Men I love aren’t safe here

Arlinda Vaughn, Dayton, OH. My partner is a tall, dark muscular black man (with a PHD). When he lived in Texas, the police arrived at a gas station that he was in and tased him 8 times without warning or discussion. My brother (with a degree) has been regularly pulled over. Once, a police officer […]

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” […]

Being white makes me feel guilty

Micaela Laurelville, OH My privilege is always at the forefront of my mind. I cry in history class and while reading certain historical books. How does one make up for the past crimes of people that I can’t help but perceive as my ancestors?

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Doctor asked, “What is your race?”

Leslie Lannan, Cincinnati, OH. It’s amazing how desperate we are in America to racially categorize our citizens based on how they look. My six words are a reference to a recent doctor’s visit. After discussing my ailments and general health, the doctor had one more question for me. “What is your race?” she asked. I […]

Get back with the other monkeys!

Randall E. Dalton, MD Somerset, KY Above is the comment of a white Cincinnati, Ohio police officer when I left the ranks of a “sit-in” in a public high school, in the aftermath ot the assasination of Dr. Martin Luther King, to go to the restroom — I was subsequently arrested.

I bet you don’t charge whites.

Steven Columbus, OH Working a parking booth. Black woman pulled up. Sign clearly posted with the rates for parking. Open the gate. That’s 2 bucks to park here. I bet you don’t charge white people. The sign is for everyone Mam. I’m interested in green not the color of your skin.

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Successful, Black, Gay, a family’s shame…

Karim Ali Columbus, OH I suppose I have been pondering my Race Card (TM) entry for a few months. When I read the comments of Michael Sam’s father (Michael Sam Sr.) about his disappointment in his son for being gay, I was nearly in tears, as it reminded me of my own coming out with […]

The Only One In The Room

John Lane Cincinnati, OH In college and through my entire professional life, I have always been the only African-American in the “room” I am “safe” and “non-threatening”……… And full of rage.

Separate and unequal still exists!

Lori K. Elliott Wyoming, OH I am African American. More than 40 years ago, my parents took me out of the public school and enrolled me inan almost all white parochial school because the public school in my racially segregated neighborhood was so awfu. Six years ago, I moved from an integrated neighborhood to an […]

Prejudice, lying in wait, hidden underneath.

Rhonda Malvern, OH You see it rear it’s ugly head every so often. Like during the first Obama campaign. He was only in office a month or two and there was such hatred of his “politics”. Not disagreeing but very aggressive in their opposition. He hadn’t even done anything yet. People disguised their prejudice saying […]

You look too foriegn for me.

Danielle Silver Forest Park, OH A white guy I liked told me this. I am white( German, Irish, Penn. Dutch), Hispanic, Native American. I used to get asked where I was from in school. I said, “I’m an American.” My ancestors have been here for generations. My full brother has never been asked where he […]

Dirty dago: my mother at 6.

Keira Dodd Lakewood, OH My Italian grandmother came here in 1956 on the Andrea Doria, and my mother only knew one sentence of English (“I have to pee”) when she first went to school. She got called names and ostracized for her “otherness.” I remember that when I think of how different immigrant cultures are […]

Everyone has a title but me.

Beth Lichter Cincinnati, OH Every form I ever fill out, I check ‘White’, because my ancestors moved her 3 generations ago from Holland and Germany. There is a category for everything under the sun – but me. I’m just white. And I’m OK with that. Maybe we focus so much on classification that we forget […]

Wasn’t taught “discriminate…so I don’t.

Christina Hermann Mentor, OH My dad was in the military so we knew and were friends with people of other races from other countries. Like any other community you’re friends with whomever you get to know and have a connection with. However like everyone else I was exposed to media and fed a culture of […]

“White girls should marry white boys!”

Janet Little Dayton, OH From a rural, small town- I hadn’t seen any couples that were of different races. During the 1994 OJ Simpson trials, at age 6, I ignorantly asked my mother, “Was that black boy married to that white girl that died?” Her only response was: “Yes, but white girls should only marry […]

Please stop staring at us. Please.

Jacqueline Trudeau Brecksville, OH My boyfriend and I discuss our different backgrounds a lot. He’s Hindu, I’m Catholic. His parents came to America after he was born; you can trace part of my family back to the Mayflower. His parents still speak Tamil; mine occasionally break out their rusty college-level German.But despite all this discussion […]

Why do they hate us so?

Debra Brown Sprindale, OH My question is based on my belief that though things are better in the US between the races (by ‘races’ I mean Blacks and whites, specifically); there is an underlying animosity from white people, as a group, against Black people, as a group, that persists. I am not referring to individual […]

Small Ohio Town: Color Didn’t Matter

Debbie Spragg Brisentine Plain City, OH I was born in 1954, lived in Mt. Pleasant Ohio, pop. approx. 500. Attended school from 1959-1972. Had both white and black friends but, to me, they were all just friends – no difference! I never knew anything about racial issues until maybe 1969, 1970. It was an idyllic […]

Is it because we’re different colors?

Jerry Cordaro Cleveland, OH I’m Caucasian, my wife is African-American, and we’re the parents of two kids. Because of our work schedules, I’m usually the one doing pickup and drop-off, and a few summers ago I was picking them up from camp. My son is light-skinned, and there was a little boy about six or […]

No one is born being racist.

Ashton Aikens Columbus, OH Have you ever noticed the racism is a learned behavior. Think about it if your raised and see everyone being treated the same and never look at a person’s skin this is how you view the world, were as if your shown that a person with a.different skin tone is inferior […]

Joy is the armor of truth

Judith Angelo Cleveland Heights, OH I began with six words from Alice Walker’s novel about FGM, Possessing the Secret of Joy : “The secret of joy is resistance.” I’m a white radical lesbian feminist, and I associate them with my primary teachers about race in America: Audre Lorde (Sister Outsider) and Derrick Bell (Faces at […]

Biracial anxiety; black/white; both/neither?

Tracey Frierson North Ridgeville, OH Version 2:  biracial anxiety; black/white; neither/both! I have two adult biracial daughters, three years apart, raised in the same home under similar circumstances- one for whom racial identity has been problematic, the other who identifies herself as Black and has always seemed to adjust positively to that aspect of her […]

The Art and Racket of Passing

Raven Cincinnati, OH In parts of Eastern North Carolina the lines between black, bi-racial and Native American is blurry and sometimes nonexistent. I went to school with the great(x3) grandchildren of my family’s slaveholders. Our families share the same last name. Upon leaving I learned that my green eyes, light skin and curly hair were […]

“It’s okay; I’ll go this way”

Erica Campagnaro Cleveland, OH I heard these words as I was briskly walking down a main aisle at a market, looking over my right shoulder as I crossed each side-aisle, trying to find the shampoo. At first, I didn’t process that the words were spoken to me. Then, bit by bit, like when your brain […]

Who turns knobs on closed doors?

Rachel P. Akron, OH If you never open your mind, how will you change? As a white person growing up in the Bible Belt, I was taught that any color other than white was inferior. I moved to a school in Dallas, where there were only 10 white students in a school of 800. I […]

Is this all on one check?

Mary Henry Oxford, OH I am white, my husband is black, our daughter is biracial. If I’m out with just my husband or just my teenaged daughter, wait staff usually ask if our order is on one check, suggesting they don’t realize that we’re related (my daughter is not very dark-skinned, but looks more like […]