Race: A tightly tangled, knotted business

Catherine House Philadelphia, PA Racism is a terrible, complicated knot that some have tried to improve through generations. Abolitionists and the four civil rights workers killed in MS gave their lives. Other people cling to old ideas even today. The overwhelming apathetic majority contributes nothing. Somewhere in the huge knotted mess a new cottage industry […]

My skin color isn’t my culture

Andrew Beer, Philadelphia, PA. As a white male, I am lumped together with the rest of white America, but white isn’t a culture. My family came to the U.S from the State of Slovenes, Croats, and Serbs before WWII from Dubrovnik, but no one seems to even think that I’m not a descendant of the […]

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Not a Race, Still a Human

Cameron Warren, Downingtown, PA. I’m a very Irish child, and being proud of that has always been hard due to the fact I have red hair and freckles. While most say, “oh but you’re white, whats the problem” the problem is just that. I have been bullied and teased almost my whole life and not […]

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Learned your culture you not ours

Michael Greene, Philadelphia, PA. Kudos to Ms, Norris for bringing the kindling for when it comes to race there have been, are, and will be fires figurative and literally of every imaginable combustion. Growing up I watched and was part of the Civil Rights Movement from the first time I was stopped and frisked by […]

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When did borders start defining ‘race’?

Sarah Naomi Burnett, Norristown, PA. Being a ‘white’ girl raised on the border of Mexico the ‘race-card’ issue was raised daily. I always felt that if I was a color, and they were a nationality, those two identifiers didn’t quantify either of us equally. I had a culture at home that was Irish/Italian but where […]

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Hope my children will speak Spanish

Sandra Aguilar-Rodríguez, Bethlehem, PA. I am Mexican, I speak English, French and Spanish. I have a PhD in History, but still I find it difficult to understand why in the United States being bilingual or trilingual is not appreciated. I want my children to speak, read and write at least in another language, and if […]

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“George Washington was white, you’re black.”

Aaron David Snipe, Falls Church, VA. It was one day before the 4th of July parade at the summer camp I had attended each summer of my childhood, and the campers and counselors had all congregated outside to discuss our cabin’s float for the parade. Summers at the camp in rural Pennsylvania were filled with […]

Entire countries meld in this body.

Isabella Thomas, Philadelphia, PA. My name is Isabella Thomas, and I’m a student currently attending Central High School in Philadelphia. The concept of ‘race’, to me has always correlated with ‘color’. Or perhaps an erasure of identity. I am not simply white, just as my peers- my friends- are not simply black, or Asian. I […]

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Boat after the Mayflower; who cares?

Merrill Mason, Philadelphia, PA. Being descended from early WASP settlers made my mother feel important and entitled. But I believe that suffering and endurance are human experiences, not racial ones. Stories of grit and survival should bring people together rather than create hierarchies.

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Biker gangs have love for me

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. […]

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Wow, you don’t have an accent!

Angelina A., Allentown, PA. I myself always get asked about questions about my racial and ethnic background and it never has bothered me. I usually always say I am half Dominican and half Chilean, then I go on to explaining that my dad is from Chile and my mom is from The Dominican Republic. Although […]

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Ashamed of American Black culture today

Keville Bowen, Chester, PA. I’m a Black man of three countries. Born in Trinidad, moved Canada and ended in America. Though I have little memory of Trinidad, my recollection of Canada and America are vastly different. I was only know as a Trini in Toronto and as I gained friends, I referred to them as […]

“Protect” sister from favorite childhood movies.

Emmy Corey, Harrisburg, PA. I’m a white Alabama native from an all-white town with a black sister who is 17 years younger than I. I love passing down the things that I enjoyed at her age- dolls, movies, books. For the most part, she likes receiving them too. The problem is that before she came […]

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In nature, only humans fight differences.

Trealavon Grier, Harrisburg, PA. As a dark skinned African American, I have only experienced racist rejection from others that look like me. Self hatred, unfortunately, is real. Now in my 40’s, I realized how much of my life was wastep on other people’s issues. This was the beginning of self love and the fulfillment of […]

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Hey Do You Need an Interpreter?

Rebeca Cruz-Esteves, Philadelphia, PA. I was born in Puerto Rico and raised in both the U.S. Although my first language is Spanish it’s hard to tell since I have no accent. Growing up it was hard to immediately blend in as I spent my childhood in a predominantly Caucasian neighborhood. As a teenager my family […]

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Black, Caribbean-American, human, American, Southern

Britt Stone, Philadelphia, PA. No one ever asked “what” I am. They just assume. They approach me with all sorts of ideas about what food I like, what music I listen to, the books I read, and my favorite movies and tv. They have an opinion of what I should sound like when I speak, […]

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Too white for my own good.

Lauren Qualters, West Chester, PA. For my race card project I chose the phrase “Too white for my own good” which is most certainly a true statement, in both humerous and negative ways. I am certainly very sterotypically “white” but not in an intentional or discriminatory way. My traits are my own and they embody […]

You graduated in four years? Really?

Michael Tackie, Pittsburgh, PA. Upon graduation from college with a B.S.in Chemical Engineering, I got this from someone I had known for three years, someone I regarded as a friend. He was white, and majored in History or English, I forget which. I was initially amused, not understanding the subtext to what he was saying. […]

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“You’re to pretty to be African”

Hadja Diallo, Philadelphia, PA. People always say that I don’t look African!? But I ask myself how is someone supposed to look African? Are we all supposed to be ugly? I wouldn’t say that all Africans are beautiful, but most of them are. I know that it’s not there (people) fault that they think Africans […]

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Do you hate your other side?

Carissa Smith, Philadelphia, PA. This is what my father asked me when we were talking about the movie “12 Years a Slave”. He was talking about the horrors of slavery and the actual statement was: “I bet that makes you hate your white side, doesn’t it!?” I’m sure he doesn’t know the effects or the […]

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Creating inclusive work environments is intentional.

Lisa Nelson-Haynes, Lansdowne, PA. This country’s issues with race aren’t going to improve until we deal with them on the micro-level, mano y mano. Living a life, inclusive of other races, cultures and ethnicities takes work. You have to seek it out and work to include it in your daily existence. If you can look […]

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Flower child eye contact kindness hope

Sharon Neumane, Mehoopany, PA. Growing up in the 60’s and 70’s I truly believed that we had moved beyond racial conflicts. My greatest heroes, my most beloved singers and song writers, actors, activists and poets are people who’s skin is a different color than mine. I have never in my life filled out a race […]

What did we lose becoming white?

Rosa Friedman, Philadelphia, PA. My grandparents came to this country as children of Jewish families from eastern Europe. In order to become accepted as part of the racial elite and gain access to white privilege, they had to leave behind the things that distinguished them, their culture, language, and values. Now there is a hole […]

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Black mother. White baby. Didn’t matter.

Christine Mitchell, Reading, PA. I’m a black woman married to a white man but still, imagine my surprise in the delivery room when my baby came out white. Not “white” like black babies are often very light skinned until their color comes in, but white. They put our bracelets on so our babies wouldn’t get […]

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Must we forget our Confederate ancestors?

Jesse Dukes, Charlottesville, VA. This question was on my mind recently, when I wrote an article for Virginia Quarterly Review about Confederate reenactors at the 150th anniversary of Gettysburg. I don’t actually have any Confederate ancestors I’m aware of, but most of the reenactors do. All of the reenactors I talked to considered slavery to […]

Bi-racial means you are nobody’s baby.

Silvija Singh, Pittsburgh, PA. Unlike my sibs, I do not look white, altho I have a white mother. I do not get treated like a Latvian, the way the blond-haired blue-eyed cousins on this side of the family do. Complexion-wise, I look more like my father, who was from India. But among Indians, I am […]

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90.5 WESA- NPR Journalist Michele Norris Talks Race in America

By ESSENTIAL PITTSBURGH When award-winning NPR journalist and former All Things Considered c0-host Michele Norris released her first book “The Grace of Silence: A Memoir” in 2010, it was the beginning of a unique national conversation on race. On October 1st, Norris comes to Pittsburgh to give a talk entitled “Eavesdropping on America’s Conversation on […]

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Michele Norris is an Alchemist.

…TEACH AND TALK ABOUT RACE TSWBAT BLOG by: ALEXANDRA B. REZNIK, WRITING & EDITING CONSULTANT October 2, 2014 Michele Norris is an alchemist. She transforms the stories and histories of those who experience and inflict the burden of racism, into the foundation of American individual experience and collective history. The atrocities of our past are not […]

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Father, Husband, Soldier, Taxpayer, Voter, Mentor.

M. Peek Fitzgerald, Harrisburg, PA. In my 53 years of life I feel that I must carry something like this every time I leave my home. This is not the America I fought for. Not the America that I have to explain differences to my children. I’m an American too and I feel like a […]

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Why are we afraid of TRUTH?

C. Denise Johnson Pittsburgh, PA TRUTH is… we are all part of the collateral damage of institutional racism. That’s why some of us are resistant to change and others want more change. When the foundation of your society is predicated by elitism, sexism and racism, you end up with a schizophrenic nation afraid to look […]