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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 […]

Because I’m white, I feel ashamed.

Sadie Petersen Philadelphia, PA As a child, the streets of west Philadelphia were my playground. I loved going to school in the area and wouldn’t change a thing about how I was raised and how race was never even noted in my small family of four, which eventually grew to a family of 7. However, […]

Where does your family come from?

Cecelia H Philadelphia, PA I remember being in fourth grade and the entire class had to make a dish displaying their ancestry and representing where your family came from. The project had my family scrambling. We don’t know what country we are from. As descendants of slaves in this country that information has been lost […]

Hybrid Asian identity disconnected from roots

Shen Lin Philadelphia, PA I’m originally from mainland China but spent most of my developmental years in Europe. After moving to the US I realized the extent to which people are able to connect so deeply with their racial heritage and express their opinions so freely in this country is enviable by the standards of […]

What am I? Dirty but clean

R. E. Longdon Clarksville, PA My family complexion has always been called dirty or ruddy. My ancestors came from Europe through England but family folklore has much more than English in our history. Our family always classified as white but we stood out in our hometown to the point our “dirtyness” was speculated by some […]

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You’re going to prom with him?

Katie Bowles Linfield, PA I grew up in a conservative white Catholic/Christian family that tends to be very narrow-minded, especially in the older generations. I never thought whom I went to my senior prom with was such a huge deal, that was until my family found out my date was black. My mom wasn’t outwardly […]

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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 […]

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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 […]

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 […]

We still don’t have equal opportunities.

Stanley Umeweni Philadelphia, PA I am Stanley Umeweni, and I am a high school student from Central High School in Philadelphia, PA. I chose these six words because after a little over 50 years after the Civil-Rights Movement, not all races have equal opportunity. Even with laws and policies, such as Affirmative Action, the color […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

Scandinasican: Scandinavian, Asian, American – where’s home?

AD Hammershaimb Radnor, PA My siblings see it as belonging everywhere; I see it as belonging nowhere. In Denmark, Danes see me as Filipino-American. In the Philippines, people see me as Danish-American. In the U.S. , I’m Danish and Filipino. or just American. Where can I be all three at once? Where is home?

The White Girl: curious, ignorant, ashamed

Rebeca Osborn Ambridge, PA I grew up in largely white, upper-middle-class suburbs, but as a social outcast for different reasons, somehow most of my best friends through life have been non-white or biracial. It’s taken me a long time to learn to just ask questions of people who are different from me, and accept that […]

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 […]

Black folks: please forgive white ancestors!

Linda Robinson Philadelphia, PA All of us are shaped by the culture and historical period in which we developed as children. That culture almost becomes a part of our DNA – it’s that imbedded in us. The white slave-traders of centuries ago in Africa were shaped by the cultural idea that dark-skinned peoples of Africa […]