Haitian-Irish mix? That’s a first!

Josh Benjamin, Philadelphia, PA. Almost nobody ever guesses me to be a black-white mix. This has led to numerous identity issues for me in the past. Now, however, I feel blessed and enjoy my background without calling attention to it.

I’m caramel, you’re peach, we’re sweet!

Leah Turner Lancaster, PA One time, a little girl ask me what color I was. At the time my snippy come-back was “Choca-mocha-latte!”, but I figured that was a little much for a six year old who was honestly curious. So I looked at my skin and said “Caramel”. She said “Oh,” Looked at her […]

My creativity eludes definition by color

Jay Fluellen Philadelphia, PA I am an African American male who teaches in the public school system in Philadelphia. I constantly defy the comprehension of my predominately African American students by talking without cursing, listening to classical music, using words they don’t understand and by dressing professionally. I push passed all of this to teach […]

Witnessing humanity’s evolution: hate to love (?).

Carol Mowen, Greencastle, PA. When I first wrote this “race card” in 2014, I had firmly placed a period at its end. In 2016, I am moved to revise it slightly – to add the question mark in parentheses because I am not as sure we’re on the trajectory from hate to love as clearly […]

No eye contact because I’m white.

Cynthia Flynn Bryn Mawr, PA This was mostly not true where I grew up in inner city Seattle, but when I went to the South in 1968, that was my universal experience of African-Americans. It still happens today, even in professional settings.

Whitefish Bay white school white Church

Mark Brandfass. Pittsburgh, PA. In the summer of ’63 my family had just moved to Whitefish Bay, Wisconsin. My father was a salesman for Westinghouse Electric and we moved as his work demanded. I would be entering the diocesan Catholic seminary the next year, my brothers and sisters attended the local Catholic schools. I don’t […]

Infertility Opens Your Eyes To Acceptance

Erika Barker Mansfield, PA Nothing about infertility is easy.. My husband and I want a family so much but so far we can’t have one. We would love to adopt, and race is not an issue. It makes us see there are deeper and more important things to think about than the color of the […]

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 […]

China, Yellow, hardworking, dream, versatile, active

Yilan Miao, Selinsgrove, PA. Maybe we should improved the inaccurate term “racism” with the much more accurate and potentially productive term “stereotype”. As American people always think, I am really good at math and this is the beginning of the third month for me to study in a small town of America. As you can […]

I was a white tobacco farmer

Helen Nelson, Saxonburg, PA. I grew up working in the tobacco fields. Cutting tobacco with an ax. Piling the plants. Stringing plants on a wooden lathe with a spear. I was a dying breed, is what they told me in college. No one believes me now that this is who I was and who I […]

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 […]

You’ll find your real parents someday.

Alessa Abruzzo Philadelphia, PA Biologically I’m Korean. Ethnically I’m Irish-German-Italian. I was adopted at 4.5 months old, at which point I flew from South Korea to the USA and into the loving arms of my parents who happen to be white. To put it plainly, I was raised by white people – My entire immediate […]

Ask WHO I am, not WHAT.

Jessica Hong, Philadelphia, PA. As an Asian American, people often ask “what” I am within the first 20 minutes (or sometimes 20 seconds!) of meeting me. Others feel self-conscious about asking but are visibly relieved when/if I happen to mention my ethnicity myself. I think the question of my ethnicity wouldn’t bother me so much […]

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. […]

The confederacy did not raise me.

Emily, Philadelphia, PA. I am a white American. My family is here because the Turkish government was committing genocide against Anatolian Greeks in the early 1920s. My grandmother lost her family and came to NY, and when Smyrna was burned she had no home to go back to. The confederacy does not serve my family. […]

Much progress; much more to do

Robert Markel, Charlestown, MA. Raised in a very white town in Chester County Pennsylvania, I had little consciousness of race issues until high school. We had one black student in my class, and he was the Salutatorian. At the end of our senior year at Archmere Academy, several members of the class went to lunch […]

We identify as “Red Sox fans.”

Rachel Gonzales Pottstown, PA I’m the whitest woman who ever lived (except in the summer, when I’m the sunburniest woman who ever lived). He’s half-Mexican by way of California and half-German by way of WWII. Our adopted daughter is part African American, part Italian, part “Caucasian mix” (that’s what it ACTUALLY SAYS in her medical […]

Diversity is enriching but also frightening.

Elizabeth A. Leeper, Dubuque, IA. I am a 62 year old, single, white female. I was born in Pennsylvania, grew up in Asia, and now live in Iowa. Education level: Ph.D. I appreciate racial and ethnic diversity and experiencing different cultures, but I also understand the fear of the “other.”

She’s so basic, typical white girl.

Marryn Hilliker, Strasburg, PA. I chose these words that are jokingly spoken towards me very frequently. I’m a 20 year old white girl, blue eyes, red hair (although my “basic-ness” was worse when I was a blonde) attending college, who just happens to be apart of a sorority, loves Starbucks coffee, participates in the Netflix […]

America has “White-Privilege Withdrawal Syndrome”

Robert Alan Gustafson II, Butler, PA. Donald Trump is an enabler of the White-Privilege addiction. We need to elect someone who’ll transition us white folk into the new reality where no one race, ethnicity, or religion dominates America. It’ll be painful, but we’ll survive. And, despite what many Trumpers think, America’ll be better off in […]

I’m racist but fight the tendency.

Mark Donaldson, Edgewater, CO. I’m white, grew up in rural PA in a mostly white school. I live in CO now and work in tech industry where you’re probably either white or Indian. I know I’m racist but try hard to fight against that tendency. I want to be better than I know I am.

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. […]

Conservative Christian girl, liberal arts college.

A. Jones Selinsgrove, PA Coming from a very small, rural town in Southern Pennsylvania, I was thrown into what seems to me like a melting pot when I came to Susquehanna University. If I had had any idea of what it meant to attend a “liberal arts” college when I was looking at schools as […]

No one knows unless I tell

Natasha Smith, Philadelphia, PA. I am white. I look white. I am white? Pale skin, red frizzy hair, littered with freckles. Often I am asked “Are you Irish?” The answer is “No…” and I wonder if it is the time to go into my family’s racial identity or my own struggles with my racial identity. […]

I wasn’t Asian. I became one.

Kasumi H University Park, PA I came to the USA to attend Penn State as an undergraduate student in 2010. I was born in Saitama, Japan and grew up in Shanghai, China. When I arrived, it felt like I was turned into a spokesperson for all Asians. Before, I was just a person, a girl, […]

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 […]

Man, that white boy got soul.

Michael Doran, Selinsgrove, PA. I am a student of music, and I love with the genre of soul/blues music like The Temptations or John Legend. Once, at an audition for the Voice, I was approached by a group of black guys who told me the six words above. It amazes how these barriers of white […]

I don’t plan on changing ever.

Zahnyah, Philadelphia, PA. I am me, I act the way I act because that’s just me, I am going to be me forever so if people don’t like it they need not talk to me or they might as well as just get used to it. I’m not going to change unless I feel as […]

You’re Invited! You’re not a minority?

Rafael Rosato, Berwyn, PA. This is my college graduation picture from 1988. I received a bachelor of arts degree from an Ivy League University and a short while later was traveling to New York to join a management training program at a prestigious Wall Street Bank. There were 34 of us in that class and […]

Damn Yankees don’t go back home

Patty Reed, Greenville, SC. Originally from Pennsylvania, I’ve lived here the majority of my life but I cannot say I’m a native South Carolinian. While it seems to be more widely acceptable now, during my high school years in a small town it wasn’t okay to be from “up north somewhere”. A foreigner in my […]

“My Blood is Red, What’s Yours”

Ralanda King, Philadelphia, PA. Born and raised in the city of brotherly love, but I’m full of sisterly affection, I not black but brown and beautiful. the heart can see what our eyes can’t or refuse too. but, don’t charge it to my skin, but to my heart.

I was there, so were friends.

Daniel Cohen Stroudsburg, PA I am so grateful that you have this exhibit. The sixties and the political movements of that time were so exciting to be part of. We could sure use that passion and commitment today. In spite of King, would anything have happened without blood? Is that what it will take today?

Little brown girl, white man’s world

Beatriz Mallory Newfoundland, PA My father was one of the first black men to work at IBM in the late 50’s; my mother a Puerto Rican who migrated to NY to go to college. My father embedded this mantra in my head from a very age. I was a “little brown girl” in a world […]

I am glad they fear me.

Ernest Leon Tyree Jr Dravosburg, PA After spending 12 years in the military I learned a lot about fear and the power it holds. One the most powerful motivators is fear which is unfortunate, that being said the person who holds the power has a great responsibility to know that people fear them and to […]

Not accountable for ancestors actions

Noah McDonald, Warren, PA It’s time to get over it! Before you point your finger at me, and call me a racist! Don’t forget there are three of your own pointing back at you! I won’t be held responsible for my ancestors actions! Educate yourself! Look at history. Every race, religion, and creed has been […]

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 […]

A Mississippi secret – not “accidental drowning.”

David Morath, Wrightsville, PA. On August 14, 1973 three black children from Atlanta, GA drowned in Waveland, Mississippi. Eyewitnesses reported that the children had been harassed by white boaters, The coroner’s jury closed the case without investigation the following day. Because of Jim Crow mortuary policies, locating a funeral director who would deal with African-Americans […]

I stare longingly at others like me

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

Speaking Proper Doesn’t Mean “Speaking White”

Messiah Toure, Philadelphia, PA. All my life, I’ve felt empowered by vocabulary and being educated. However, there seems to be a correlation between being educated and being white. And a correlation, unfortunately, between being uneducated and being black. It’s a stigma that really needs to change, it’s entirely possible to be black and be educated. […]

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 […]

Born a crime ; Black and alive.

Bankole, West Chester, PA. Why? Why do you hate me? Why is my existence considered a pestilence in your eyes? Why do you kill me? Why do you murder my sons and tarnish my reputation? Why do you rape my wives and daughters? Why do you take from me and call it emancipation? “You hate […]

Are you Hispanic, or just Italian?

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 […]

I thought I was being funny

Kathy, Philadelphia, PA. I saw a student I work with wearing a baseball cap and a hoodie tied tightly around her face and I said “You’re rockin’ your perpetrator look today.” I didn’t realize I’d upset her until another staff member told me. I was mortified.

Why Are We The Only White People?

Maureen Forster Philadelphia, PA I was maybe 6 yrs old when My Dad, Stepmother, older sister and older brother were in Baltimore on a little family trip. We stayed at a Holiday Inn or something along those lines and were out in the pool. I grew up in a small city with much diversity but […]

Interculturalist. Asian-American. Woman. Mother. Writer.

Jennifer Ghymn, Wyomissing, PA. The individual filters of race, ethnicity, society and family impact the way we interact and engage with the world to shape a personal cultural identity. I believe people should follow their curiosity, be open to new concepts and challenge themselves by looking at things from a different perspective. Race is a […]

I’m an Eastern European Ashkenazic Jew

Anonymous, Philadelphia, PA . For a long time, I have known that the concept of “race” is a false way to identify or classify human beings. Race is not a biological reality. In the 19th century, in Europe, the concept of ranking people by color was used to justify conquest and slavery. The attachment of […]

Good fences make good neighbors.

Edward Helmig, Harleysville, PA. Undocumented = illegal. Respecting boundaries and the laws of other nations is fundamental to civil society. Illegal immigrants steal tax dollars from hard working US residents to subsidize their own healthcare, education and welfare. In doing so they are disrespecting US laws and citizens. Support Donald Trump and stop the invasion!

Contrived for power, superiority, riches – dehumanizing.

Carol Wenger, New Holland, PA. As a white woman, I’ve been learning, relating, and waking up to an understanding that I’ve been complacent in my ignorance of white privilege. I seek transformation in repentance,forgiveness, and relationship building. My current questions are: what else don’t I know? What else should I do? Is forgiveness possible? Is […]

Latina raised in the suburbs….Wepa

Brenda Enid Mejias, Honeybrook, PA. True Puerto Rican girl….. I am the one with all the family recipes… And I love being her. Wepa– According to Urban Dictionary A word of jubilation that is uttered by mainly Hispanics, especially within the Puerto Rican community. It normally is yelled at high volumes in a nasal manner, […]

They don’t believe racial injustice exists.

Dannielle Kerstetter, Elizabethtown, PA. I come from a white, middle-class family in rural Pennsylvania. My family does not believe that people of color do not need to fight for equality because they already have rights, and they are being greedy because they want to be equal.

Slave owning ancestors mortgaged my future.

Buford Woolley, Pittsburgh, PA. My mostly white family tree flows through S Carolina, Georgia, Virginia, Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, Arkansas, Texas, Oklahoma, and lastly California where I was born. Many were slave owners. One outlier was lynched because he supported the Union and opposed slavery. The question to me, did my ancestors mortgage my future?

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.

I have white on my hands

Rachel Rodrigo, Chalfont, PA. Instead of blood on my hands, I have white on my hands. There are days when I read or hear people who are also white like me saying or doing terrible things to people different races and cultures. Some days I feel guilty that I’m white even though I didn’t choose […]

My Race Works For My Race

Daniel A. Rodriguez, Philadelphia, PA. Hello, my name is Daniel A. Rodriguez and I am 15 years old. I am of Mexican and White descent. My parents came from Mexico shortly before I was born here, in the United States. My father is a construction worker and my mother is a house cleaner, which many […]

We Don’t Consider You White Anyway

Daniel Martin, Jr. Mayfield, PA. In 2007, I was working in a bakery. For whatever reason, I happened to be one of very few white people that worked there. The large majority of the employees were people of color. I had no problem with this as I had been exposed to many different types of […]

Newspaper says ‘Black youths’ not ‘kids.’

Elizabeth Cook Pittsburgh, PA A white female with all minority students and friends, I am saddened and disgusted that race bias permeates every facet of our culture. What we think of as American culture is actually white culture, and others who challenge it are seen as complainers. Why is BET the only place on TV […]