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Who will love this black girl?

Gabby Mbeki, Boston, MA. In the fall of 1997, I started 6th grade at a day independent school in Connecticut. I grew up in a predominately West Indian neighborhood surrounded by faces like mine, but my father wanted me to have a more rigorous education. I entered the school being one of three students of […]

Hispanic or Latino? I feel American

Hector Vargas, Grand Rapids, MI. I grew up on the east coast. The high school I attended was primarily populated by minorities. My mother is Mexican and my biological father is Brazilian. My mother remarried and i was raised with Mexican customs. On the East cost I was considered Latino, in the mid west I […]

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Seen It With My Own Eyes

Elizabeth Swenson, Hacienda Heights, CA. I went to school in NC were it was predominately black & white in2006. My husband and the majority of my friends are Hispanic or Spanish descent. I never really though racism exist coming from LA, CA were its divers. But here I saw people say nasty things, dirty looks, […]

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I’m surprised you speak so well.

E.C. Boyd, Canton, OH. I was not born, but I was raised in a predominantly white neighborhood because the school system was better in Perry Township than the low-income, mostly black Canton City Schools. As the only black person on my school’s debate team, I dealt with a lot of people surprised that I could […]

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But you don’t look Italian

Katie Rotondo, El Segundo, CA. I’ve been learning a lot about race and ethnicity lately. Looking back, it bothers me how many times I was asked what ethnicity I am, responding by saying I am Italian, and getting the famous saying, “But you don’t look Italian!” This is a daily response. Just because I don’t […]

Will you still talk to me?

Susan Duncan, Bristol, NH. When I was in the fourth grade, my family moved from Concord, North Carolina, to Leaksville (now Eden), North Carolina. Our street, Patrick Street, was parallel to Henry Street and the dividing line between the “white” neighborhood and the black/African-American neighborhood. Our next door neighbor, Miss Mary, had a large yard […]

Yankee child crossed South’s colorline. Paid.

Rebekah Bickford, Baldwin, ME. My white family moved from Indiana to Mississippi in 1977, when I was 8 years old. Our family was seen as “Northern Yankees” and we were not welcomed by many in the white community. The black children were kind to me when I entered school and quickly became my friends. I […]

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 […]

I just found out I’m prejudice.

Jenna Roberts Sacramento, CA I was raised in a low income area, primarily white and latino. My experience with African Americans was very limited until I moved to Sacramento, a relatively large city compared to where I’d come from. It was the first time I’d experienced “Urban Youth.” I’ve lived here for 14 years, and […]

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Sorry, My Mom Don’t Like Blacks

Amber Roberson-Rowell Essex, MD That was my second incident of prejudice and what instilled in me that race–the color of my skin–was a problem. The first was during my first day of pre-school and being pushed off a tricycle by a little white boy and being told “You don’t belong here!” I was the ONLY […]

school segregation still sickening suffocating success

Maureen Curran New York City, NY Staten Island The words by the Jacob Lawrence poster talking about people in Brooklyn in 1962 calling for school desegregation in our schools, breaks my heart when combined with this weeks news story about NY having the most segregated schools in the nation. Why? When will injustice cease?

Many southern Negroes never learned reading

Ted Hochstadt Falls Church, VA This is approximately what my mother said to me when I asked her why our African-American cleaning woman could not read the word I asked her about from my second grade reader. The conversation with my mother occurred in Brooklyn, NY almost 65 years ago, but I still remember that […]

Small Ohio Town: Color Didn’t Matter

Debbie Spragg Brisentine Plain City, OH I was born in 1954, lived in Mt. Pleasant Ohio, pop. approx. 500. Attended school from 1959-1972. Had both white and black friends but, to me, they were all just friends – no difference! I never knew anything about racial issues until maybe 1969, 1970. It was an idyllic […]

What opened my eyes: “flesh-colored” bandages

Irene M. Pepperberg Swampscott, MA I was in high school, a racially integrated one, in the 60s, discussing racial issues with a contemporary black woman, an honors student, headed for a fine college. I asked her why she was so angry, what kind of discrimination she felt, living in a middle class community, going to […]

I’m educated; doesn’t mean I’m white.

Adja Toure Annandale, VA Not a day goes by without at least one schoolmate telling me I’m white. But only on half of these occasions do I defend myself. My parents are not American, so my upbringing is quite different than that of other black students I am acquainted with. As an advanced student, I […]

Racism is stupid; don’t be stupid.

Patrick Nolan Jacksonville Beach, FL As an educator having taught in urban school districts for more than twenty-seven years I have had the pleasure of teaching students from numerous cultural and ethnic backgrounds: We’re all one race–Human–and the variety we present is astonishing and awesome. My students have taught me that external factors have nothing […]

White girl. Black school. Called “slave owner.”

Erin Murphy Barling, AK I grew up in a mostly African American neighborhood outside Miami, Florida. My friends never made me feel out of place but the other 60% of the students at the schools I attended sure did. My great-grandparents were immigrants -on one side of the family I was third generation American. That […]

Heritage Day? I am a mutt.

Christina Vallem Ann Arbor, MI Understanding Race Project- University of Michigan When the elementary school holds a Heritage Day my kids would ask me “What are we?” At first I would say we are “mutts.” Kids love dogs and understood the answer. My best answer evolved into “Northern European mix.” An improvement over rattling off […]