Francesca Sam-Sin, Katy, TX. “No offense BUT, what are you?” That’s usually how the conversation about my race begins. When I arrived in the U.S. in the 80’s I was really surprised by the emphasis on race. The first time someone asked what “race” I was, it took me a minute to understand exactly what […]
Tracy, Pittsburgh, PA. During the summer I’m darker so I’m African American, during the winter I’m lighter so I’m other. My family comes from a mix of dark and light skinned Spaniards, French and Jews. We are Dominican. I am American.
Cody Fong CA I’m half white and half Asian. And if there isn’t an “Other” box I decline to answer.
NanJo Carter, Richmond, CA. I grew up in the fifties and sixties. We moved to Japan when I was 2. We moved to Montgomery, AL when I was six and I attended Capitol Heights Elementary School. These were intense times with the National Guard escorting us to class and the school. We experienced discrimination and […]
Rachel Masilamani, Pittsburgh, PA. I was eating lunch alone in the break room on my first day at an office job when 3 of my new co-workers peeked in. “Are you Hispanic, or just Italian?” one of them blurted out. Neither, actually. This lady just laid down her line for White and Not White and […]
Mary Ann Paris Philadelphia, PA Except for my brother, there were never any children who looked like me. I am black and white, more specifically black, jewish, german, irish, italian and polish and my brother and I have European features. We grew up in a segregated part of Philadelphia among black children. They never wanted […]
Maggie Martinez, WEST PALM BEACH, FL. When I get the chance to check “other ” on any form it makes me feel as if I am tearing down another little wall and letting the form creators know that I will not be put in a box. Race is fake and constructed to keep people of […]
Stephanie Berry, Landover, MD.
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 […]
Priya Charry, Middletown, CT. Much too complicated to be expressed in a single word. Jewish father of Eastern European descent, Trinidadian mother of Indian descent.
Heather Holdridge, Dunwoody, GA. I am a high school student and every time I take a standardized test it asks me for my race and ethnicity. Why do these questions matter? We are all human.
Kristina T., Oklahoma City, OK. I’m half Native American and half Mexican. I have 3 tribes’ blood that runs through my veins along with Mexican blood. Most people consider and see me as one or the other. I speak and know my Mexican culture, but when it comes to my Native culture, I’m completely lost. […]
Walter Thompson-Hernandez, Los Angeles, CA. I am a native of Los Angeles, California and the proud son of an African American father and a first-generation Mexican immigrant mother.
Angie Cruz, Los Angeles, CA. As a person of brown skin color and Latin heritage, I am often spoken to in Spanish by strangers with the assumption that I only speak that language. It can often be demeaning when people assume that because I have a culture different than the “majority”, I am automatically categorized […]
Mia Manning, Atlanta, GA.
Marie K. Shanahan, Submitted via Twitter: @mariekshan. When you’re not quite minority enough. In 1997 at age 25, I came to terms with my place and my (mixed) race in America. I wrote a personal essay about it for The Hartford Courant: “Mixed Races, Mixed Messages: What Happens When You’re Asked To Choose Between Two […]
Susan Roberts, Moscow, ID. My first daily newspaper job in 1964. Couldn’t treat people that way. Went to work with Y-Teens in low income Hamden, CT, instead. Learned a lot about others!
Carissa Lew, CA. Being born in America but having my heritage from China leads me to believe I should choose one or the other. Many people question me about how “connected” I am to my heritage, but truth be told..I’m not very in tune with my Chinese culture. It’s difficult to discern who I really […]
Jolie Anne Chevalier, San Jose, CA. This is me at eight years old back in 1979, the daughter of an African-American/Seminole Indian mother, and a Irish-French-American father. Growing up, I was faced with contradictions in a world of opposites; although I was multiracial my mother told me I was Black, and to identify as such […]
Vince Darcangelo, Flort Collins, CO. “Sadly, I believe that underlying the race issue is a deeper human need (perhaps fear- or anxiety-driven) to label and discount those different from us. I don’t believe it’s as simple as skin color. Skin color is simply the signifier that facilitates easy division or grouping. If we were all […]
Harry Ford, Minneapolis, MN. Race is a difficult subject given the large amount of pain many people of color have experienced related to race within this American landscape. We are people in pain hoping that our contributions will be seen by the others.
Henry Lonnemann, San Mateo, CA. The census called in 2010 and asked: “What race is your son?” I said he is not, but if you are curious about his ancestors he is a mix of Korean, Irish, German, Japanese, and probably some french. They then said they would have to mark him as “other”. My […]
Amanda Nelski, Los Angeles, CA. People like to put other people in boxes. “Where are you really from?” they ask. I used to answer Detroit. When they asked where my parents are from, Detroit was not suitable either. “You don’t look like you’re from Detroit.” After some banter I would eventually confess my lineage is […]
Bert Olson, San Jose, CA. This is an observation on human nature, not confined to race. Humans tend to bond with people of similar appearance and background. It takes effort to understand the other.
Kevin Stordahl, Seattle, WA. Every time I fill out important documents they ask for my “race” and every single time they do I wonder a couple things; one, why do they need to know that? And two, where is my category? I have never considered myself one race or another. I have always just felt […]
Rob McCollough, Asheville, NC. Interfaith; Vietnamese & “Other”. Because I am told that I am ‘lucky I can pass for white’
Aimee Mallery, Rochester, NY. My daughter is Native American on her father’s side. When faced with a form for daycare, I had to choose whether to label her Native American or Caucasian. They insisted she couldn’t be both.
Chi Sherman, Indianapolis, IN
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 […]
Sergio R Velazquez, Lowell, MA. The label Latino bothers me, same as Hispanic. Both have colonial roots and do not properly represent any specific group or culture. This is why I always select OTHER and fill in Cuban. Just my five cents worth.
Aaron Yeh, Las Vegas, NV. White mother, Chinese father, I was raised by my mom and don’t speak Chinese. Sometimes I look in the mirror and my Asian features surprise me. It’s startling how I identify more with being ‘white’ than anything else. The “other” box on forms asking my ethnicity has always comforted me, […]
Barbara Racca, Austin, TX. When I was younger, that question would immediately cause my shoulders to hunch and a look of hunted suspicion to cloud my features. Today my embracement of otherness is shadowed by so much more than a child’s rejection of being different– Am I rejecting aspects of my race by qualifying that […]
Tamara Parisio Scottsdale, AZ Whenever asked for RACE, I tick “OTHER” and write in HUMAN. For certainly I have never seen a “WHITE” race (and I am not white—my skin is more creme brûlée and that is never listed). And certainly I have never seen a “BLACK” race (though I have seen many shades of […]
Kristia Molina New York City, NY Brooklyn I sacrifice a lot for my family because we are going through a tough time
Hanne Nielsen New Zealand Wherever I go, I’m always from elsewhere. Born in Canada, with Danish heritage, and living in New Zealand, every place assumes I’m ‘really’ from one of the others. What does ‘really’ mean? In New Zealand, everyone came from elsewhere at some point, usually from many elsewheres.
Jackie Loya-Torres Kansas City, MO As a small child in the 1970s, I remember having to take some sort of standardized test in school. You know…the ones where you need a #2 pencil to fill in the ovals? On the cover page, in addition to listing my name, gender and age, I was asked to […]
James Duvall OUTSIDE USA For the longest time, I’ve always tried to put both my Latin side and my African American side towards the end of job applications. Sometimes they would make you choose one or the other. so when that happens I would alternate between Latino and Black. But now I can finally pick […]
Lauren Rodriguez Indianapolis, IN … But I’m Hispanic. People always want to categorize me into one or the other “category of people” just because I don’t hangout with a lot of Hispanics but I’m proud of my roots. Just because I listen to a certain genre of music, or I am part of a nationally […]
Marion Reid Kee Redmond, WA Some of my ancestors went through a lot so that I could be “white” and not have to know about them as African, Native American, Eastern Mediterranean. Others who were considered white may not have been free. Some of my Celtic ancestors were forcibly resettled by the English. Others were […]
Brittany Barnes Reno, NV I am adopted. I was born in Irian Jaya, Indonesia, now known as Western New Guinea. I don’t really tell people where I was born, because I don’t find it necessary in conversations and it never really comes up. People look at me and automatically assume that I am African-American and […]
Nathaniel Hunt Glen Burnie, MD My parents are an interracial couple. I am a homosexual young man. And today is my 23rd birthday. Without the Civil Rights Movement, my parents would not have had the courage or approval to find, love, and marry each other. Without it, I may never have been born and if […]
Jose G. Martinez Flores Mayaguez, Puerto Rico The essential fact that we are all human, regardless of any difference.
Marilyn K. McCamey Seattle, WA
Traci Butler USA I’m a Caucasian mother of a beautiful, amazing little girl who happens to be of mixed heritage, because her father is from Africa. I have a difficult time when it comes to school forms or paperwork for doctor’s offices, because they don’t give you a box for “mixed ethnicity” or a space […]
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 […]
Monica Alejo Tinley Park, IL As a Latina I have to work twice as hard as my colleagues to gain recognition.
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 […]
Henry Lonnemann San Mateo, CA When contacted by the census bureau I was thrilled. It was a pleasure to fulfill my civic duty, and exciting to document my son as my great-great-grandparents had documented theirs. However, when question six came up, What is the persons race?, the conversation turned. My response was that race is […]
Stephanie Mokashi Austin, TX
PHYLLIS HULL AKTURK Rockville, MD I check “other” for race because we are all just homo sapiens. Although Father was from Norman English+Dutch and Mother from German+English stock (both born and raised in Denver, Colorado), I didn’t know I was a WASP until I got to the dorm, as a junior, at American University, where […]
Saya Powell Japan Thank you!
Pete Reich San Francisco, CA I heard the piece on Race Card and six word essay on NPR and was intrigued at the topic and motivated to come up with my own 6 word essay, based loosely on my experiences growing up and traveling etc., and mine came naturally to me. My hope and goal […]
Sam Nola Ypsilanti, MI The (perceived) availability of a support structure with little stigma attached make ‘whiter’ people seem less capable than those who must do on their own. Of course this is only one of many stereotypes, seems like most groups think other groups have it easier.
Chuck Lehneis San Diego, CA Born here in San Diego, I find I fit in best. Yet, I don’t identify totally with the culture, by and large. Most of the surfers are white, most of the tourists are white, most of the people who are out and about on a Saturday night too. I see […]
D. Casey Jones, M.D., Colonel, US Army (Ret) Olympia, WA What I am trying to convey is the institutionalization and public reinforcement of race bias in the U.S. You will find the above six words (or equivalent) on nearly every State and especially Federal form or application that requires personal identifying information. If there is […]
Erin Fatica Outside USA, Mexico I was bused (from a white neighborhood to a formerly all-black school) to integrate Milwaukee Public Schools in the 70s and 80s. I experienced Black History Month and MLK Day before they were mainstream. I never thought I would be raising the only “black” (biracial) girl in a Mexico City […]
Jeffrey Kingdon Danville, IN Whether my 50’s era parents chose their life in the suburbs due to racial considerations or were simply following the trend to find affordable post war housing, the effect was the same. The west suburban central Indiana communities were largely small farming towns rapidly on their way to becoming bedroom sprawl […]
Aliza Hirani Ann Arbor, MI Understanding Race Project- University of Michigan I am a Pakistani-American, born and raised in Texas. When people ask me where I am from, I proudly tell them Dallas, Texas. Then, without a fail, I get the response, “No, where are you actually from?” I have realized when some people ask […]
Deb K St. Paul, MN Submitted via NPR’S Talk of the Nation
Deborrah Daher St. Louis, MO
Deborah Daher St Louis, MO