My nose is not a beak

Mary Walrath, Rochester, NY. I am Italian-American with the signature “Italian nose.” It is big, humped and crooked, and my entire young life was spent being called a “bird,” a “witch,” having bird calls made at me in halls, etc. It is surely nothing like the plight of many others in this country, but it […]

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Wear a suit? He’s a “pimp”.

Chris Thompson, Rochester, NY. I have been an engineer for 13 years, and I notice that when I don the regular business casual attire, colleagues not directly in my department think I’m either in food or custodial services. Now I wear a tie daily, and the “compliment” I get is that I look like a […]

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Witnessed prejudice against my black friends

MaryBeth, Rochester, NY. I am white. I never experienced or witnessed prejudice until I went out to eat with my black friends. On several occasions, we were seated in undesirable locations within a restaurant and ignored. I thought it was just BAD customer service, until pointed out by my friends who said it was a […]

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Racism is an ego-based human dysfuntion

James E Washington, Rochester, NY. The ego thrives on identification and separation. We seems to be a nation that thrives on dualism, having an “other” a “they or them” as a means to distinguish ourselves from. White, Black; Rich, Poor: Republican, Democrat; Christian, Jewish; Fat, Skinny; on and on. The problem appears to be “ego […]

I don’t consider you a Hispanic.

Ruth Santiago, Rochester, NY. A very close long time friend said this to me. I was totally taken off-guard. I asked for an explanation. She stated, “the fact that I came from a home with both parents, parents who loved us, encouraged education, and values”. It actually made me angry to realize that this is […]

White colleagues discuss racism without us.

Michelle, Rochester, NY. My liberal white colleagues have long conversations about the problems with racism in American. They have interesting ideas about solutions to the problem, but they rarely listen to the brown people in the room. Is this a white savior problem?

Identity is fluid; context is everything.

Zoë McLaughlin, USA. Waiting in line for the Chinatown bus in New York City, a man approached me and began speaking Spanish. I squinted at him and briefly pondered my response. This was not the first time someone has expected me to speak Spanish. As soon as I began making forays out of my predominantly […]

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Post-Racial? Stop. Look. Listen. Racism’s Here.

Kyle Alexander, Rochester, NY. Coming from a position a white privilege and having a large peer network of other white individuals. I hear a lot of quite muttering of “post-racial” society, and “I don’t even think about race, we’re all the same”. No. We’re not all the same and the only reason you are supporting […]

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Montgomery Blair HS still inspires me

Jonathan Feldman, Rochester, NY. My high school was integrated, and we took such pride in this that Stevie Wonder found out: he made a surprise visit to our school in 1981 to promote the creation of the Martin Luther King Day holiday. I wish that all students could have the same experience that we did. […]

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You have to choose. Which one?

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.

I smile at young black men.

Nena Clark Rochester, MN I am an old, white woman. I work in the govt center and I see all kinds of folks there who probably aren’t having their best day. I try to be pleasant to everyone, but I make a point of being friendly toward young black men. I know that in my […]

Diversity Means Add A Few More

Ambika Howell Rochester, NY Funny how when you hear the word “diversity” being used to talk about how workplaces, etc., are attempting to appear to be DIVERSE, all you see is a few people of color on a cover page, or a poster, or on their website, surrounded by white people kind of in a […]

Prejudice: never genetic, but often inherent.

Cynthia W Kaleh Rochester, NY At a very young age, my first best friend was a black girl who lived on the next block. I was so young that when told she couldn’t come over anymore, I just accepted the statement. Her family eventually moved away and though never consciously forgotten; it was over 30 […]

Half Jewish. Half WASP. All tribal.

Andrea Jill Berman Rochester, NY Grew up working class Jewish in buffalo NY. a very ethnic city. No melting pot there. people kept their ethnic identities. I was always welcome in my friends homes. my brother’s best friend in the 1970s was black. Very unusual. my parents did anti defamation and voting rights activism, so […]

Weathly White Guy. Sorry. My Bad.

Richard Rochester, NY Born poor. Struggled to make it. Became successful. Hurt no one. The American Dream. I am not evil or greedy, just good at what I do. Yet I am vilified. Prejudice has many faces. I have done what we all want to do, better myself and my family through hard work and […]