Donna Cook, Roseville, MN. I have very fair skin, Fitzpatrick Scale I, and growing up in Los Angeles meant lots of unintended, fairly serious, and wretchedly painful sunburns. I was also a bit of a tomboy wild child who would refuse to let my mother brush my hair, hair she intentionally left long as a […]
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 […]
Jason Fong, Los Angeles, CA. Asian Americans have been in the U.S. for hundreds of years and yet we are routinely excluded from discussions about race relations in America. I’m in the 11th grade and I learn nothing about Asian Americans and our long history in America in my U.S. history class. I don’t think […]
Desiree, Chesapeake, VA. When I was growing up in the 70’s and 80’s I use to hear about black people are the most uneducated race, and have the highest drop outs rates. In my family neither mother or father side have education. If anyone is educated there are distant family members. Therefore growing up the […]
Madison Martin, Ewing, NJ. Growing up in a predominantly white town, race was not a topic of much discussion in the classroom. My parents were good role models to me and my brother and did not hide us from the world outside the “bubble” of our town, but the rest of my town seemed to […]
Jessica, CA. I am a white female living in California with my white family. I grew up in an area where I was one of a few white girls in my school. I made friends of all different races and came to understand the benefits of diversity, however, it wasn’t always a pleasant experience. I […]
Cynthia Waszak Geary, Baltimore, MD. I grew up in Durham, NC and attended Hillside High School as part of the first court ordered desegregation plan to achieve racial balance. I am heart broken that since that time there has been a steady and deliberate re-segregation of schools in the US. I am hoping for leadership […]
Anonymous, USA. Grew up as the only little brown girl in class, always having to explain why my hair grew up to the skies when it rained and the humidity took control of my tresses, then drew tightly too my head. Never getting assistance from the PTA moms passing out red and black combs on […]
Kristen Ellerbe, Richmond, VA. As a mixed child, I have never felt at home with any culture. My mother was born in the Philippines and my father was an airman stationed there. They are wonderful parents who are absolutely in love with one another. I am one of three children, the middle child and only […]
Eesha Verma, USA. When I was in elementary school, we had a Diversity Day kind of thing where everyone was asked to bring in something that represented a holiday or a tradition they had in their family. I celebrate Diwali, so I brought in a clay lamp called a diya that we put candles in […]
Elya, Chevy Chase, MD. I grew up very privileged, and when I realized that I was being bullied by my white peers because of race, my parents decided that I would no longer be sheltered because of my race. I became very active in my student activism group and because I am mixed, I was […]
Kit Arnquist Longville, MN In 1968 I was a senior in high school. The day after Dr. King was assassinated, the principal asked if anyone would like to speak about him over the intercom. I did. My friends would not sit with me on the bus that afternoon.
King Kellz, Fayetteville, NC. We only learn what America has taught us about our specific race.
Theil Baumann Ramsbey Smithfield, RI Everyone was so friendly when my family moved when I was in second grade. It was because, a classmate told me years later, they had never had a Negro in their class before. I am Caucasian but have olive skin that can tan deeply (although I never do this now!).
Shanelle Smith, Richmond, CA. Aspen X Sometimes I feel that at school, students that are non black just assume that I’m not doing as well as them or that I automatically don’t understand the material we are learning. I have also been excluded from being in groups with the “super studious” kids in my class, […]
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 […]
Paula Trucks-Pape, Wisconsin Rapids, WI. What a fantastic and simple writing prompt, exercise for students, all around thought provoker! Thank you.
Anonymous, USA. “White boy”, , , . What I don’t understand is why there has always had to be a race at the bottom. No one seems to be able to get the freaking idea of racial equality through the six inches between their ears. First it was Africans. Then Jews, Asians, Latinos, Middle Eastern […]
Donna Scott, Seattle, WA. I’m passionate about social justice, but I sense the amount of space that I take up, as a white person. I noticed race early on (I’m thinking I noticed it in Kindergarten, I was one of two white kids at my school of ~300) and I’ve been trying my best to […]
Amber Jackson Baswell, Columbus, MS. As a military brat I was naïve, sheltered. It was only when my father was stationed in the deep South that “RACE” entered my vocabulary. I was shocked as a 15 year old (back in ’95) to see that churches, schools, hangouts, even the local beauty pageants were segregated! Blew […]
Terri F. Reilly, St. Louis, MO. I don’t only teach white college students, but many of them come into the classroom with blinders of privilege that need lifting.
Janet Davis, Huntsville, AL. I live in the South where we have always had a larger black population as long as I can remember & we have always gotten along. It’s insulting when I see so many people talking about the Southern states being such a hotbed of racists. No place is perfect, but I […]
Malcolm X. Mosely, Lorain, OH. I started using “Other long ago when they first started putting it on an option and I could start filling out forms when I started entering college in the early 90’s and there after. The reason I have done this is because I am not only Black and White, I […]
McKinley Dixon, Richmond, VA. In the dominantly caucasian school that my sister used to attend, she would get picked on for her hair being curlier and fuller than the other girls in her school. It got to the point where she would straighten it every morning before we go to school. Damaging her hair, for […]
Ryan Mearig, Fountain Valley, CA. School does a great job of giving you the surface level depiction of slavery. It took 22 years to learn that every foreign race was oppressed, and that we thought it was ok.
Jessica, Seattle, WA. I moved to a nice, peacefully safe area. First there was just a few illegal Mexicans but it’s changed. We made it easy for them by giving them free money, food, schooling. I hate them. I don’t like the Mexican culture, mannerisms,beliefs,..everything….is it so wrong to prefer not to like them. Why […]
Zanetea Reece, Fort Myers, FL. I am a bright skinned young woman, grew up in Southwest FL. We we’re not tought about our history in school. But racisim is and was learned at home. Because of that I grew up and still am a loner. No one wanted to be friend me because I didn’t […]
Kassandra Lynn Pasquale, Bonner Springs, KS. I never really liked how people automatically assume that I’m white just because I always really pale. Just because Hispanics usually have a tan complexity doesn’t mean that you can’t be pale. Whenever I told people I’m actually hispanic they got really surprised and didn’t believe me so they […]
Adam Jones, Chaska, MN. I am a para in a special education class, and the high school in which I work is very diverse. The longer I work in this field, the more I have come to see that kids are kids. People are people. I am frustrated, elated, encouraged, concerned, and inspired by all […]
Avery, Los Angeles, CA. All throughout my life I’ve felt many challenges that come along with my race. All throughout elementary school, when I was an impressionable little kid, in all my history classes I was told that white people did all the harm in the world and were literally heartless. I even got bullied […]
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 […]
Helen Zhang, Camarillo, CA. When I was in middle school, I noticed that my classmates tended to form “cliques” with people of the same ethnicity. However, I preferred to learn about the values and traditions of other cultures. Speaking to people of different backgrounds continues to allow me to stay open-minded and gain new perspectives.
Mary Rodriguez, Carmichael, CA. True question asked of me by my very first crush. I remember this time vividly. I was in science class and across from me was the “love of my life”..it was 6th grade. I was really excited to work with him, and when he looked at his friend then back at […]
Vicki Vardaman Lynn, IN When I took my 4 year old grandson to the Indianapolis Children’s museum’s exhibit of Ruby Bridge’s school and the reproduction of the empty classroom she entered, he listened intently to the story and replied, “Mamaw! I did not know that!”
Autumn Segrest, Highland Heights, KY. As a white woman from suburban America, it can be hard to understand the struggles of the countless people who were not born into whiteness. Their experiences with racism and prejudice shape their identity as much as my privilege shapes mine. But through education, whether it be traditional schooling or […]
Francis Lafayette, NC. Much like modern Germans, lower class white males in America have been granted a shame about their past. We’ve been told the History we learn in school is Eurocentric, but as a former social studies teacher, I can tell you that most Americans cannot tell you who Louis IV was. Or John […]
Vishwa Dhuleshia, Shrewsberry, MA. I started Kindergarten knowing how to say only two things in Enlgish: “my name is Vishwa” and “I have to go to the bathroom.” I spent the first 3 years of Elementary school going to ESL classes while my classmates took spelling classes. Those few years I had to face the […]
Ryann Mellion, Washington DC. Why do school textbooks only talk about slavery? Black history doesn’t start or end with slavery.
Vue Moua, Merced, CA. I’ve heard these words when I was in sixth grade. I am now in my fifth year of college, but I’ll never forget these words.
Wyndee Holbrook, San Antonio, TX. Mrs. Thicklin was my 5th grade teacher. She was my best teacher and she was my first African American teacher. She believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself. She taught me unequivocally that race does not define people, regardless of what my dad said.
Carrie Piper, St Peters, MO. I grew up in the part of the suburbs that’s sort of a demographic limbo. You’d know what I meant if you saw it: no longer new enough to be “really nice” as the older home builders die off, slowly moving through the “hoosier” phase on its way to “ghetto” […]
Carrie Hunsinger, Wilmington, DE. I am a 1/2 first generation American. My Mother is American (Detroit) and my father is Dutch (Holland). He’s been here almost 60 years and he still speaks with a heavy Dutch accent and therefore I speak English with a bit of a Dutch accent. When 9/11 happened I was in […]
Liza Boscow, Winnetka, IL.
Christine von Lersner, Santa Fe, NM. I am a German-American mother of a Chinese daughter and an African American son, and I’m a teacher. Early in their lives, I created a lesson (using white and black construction paper) and designed some images to use in their classrooms to help the children see and understand that […]
Nicholas Le, Sanger, CA. Since im Asian people always say im really good at math. Some people ask me if I can do their homework. I really suck at math so I couldnt even do my own homework. One day there was this dud in middle school and he told me to do his homework, […]
Audrey A Fischer, Wilson, NC. When I lived in Virginia Beach, I didn’t notice race. Up north, it was so institutionalized that I barely knew any People of Colour. When I came down south in the eighth grade, I suddenly was the largest group, but our school was 60 or so percent minority. I was […]
Skye Kincaid, Tucson, AZ. I may be Asian but I hate math. By suggesting all Asians should be good at math, you imply that I am not good enough. That is not okay.
Nicole Valenzi, New Smyrna Beach, FL. My experience with race only started really when I entered public school. Until then, I can count on one hand the number of non-white people I interacted with. My mother told me part of the reason she took us out of our sheltered private school was because I pointed […]
Cora Keahl, Lakeland, FL. My mother has always held high expectations of me when it comes to grades and knowledge, I’ve always been really good when it comes to testing and keeping my grades up. And when I told people that I was Asian (Filipino), they would make remarks like, “that’s why you’re so smart” […]
Hilary Salazar, McAllen, TX. I attended a middle school with only seven Hispanics/Latinos. One day during 2nd period, the librarian called all seven of us over the intercom to come to the library. I had no idea why, but everyone laughed as I walked out of class. I got to the library along with the […]
Kate Lee van Loveren, Ann Arbor, MI. I was born in New York, grew up in New York, and live in New York (when I’m not at school). I’m of half Chinese and half Dutch descent, but for some people that registers into me not being American for some reason. Just by looking at me, […]
Eli Russell, Austin, TX. As a writer, these six words are something I’ve said before. I lend it here to hopefully add to the growing conversation, to close the divide in the races, to open racist minds and to unite all Americans, all people across the world in peace. It is up to each generation […]
Julianna Cressman, Irvine, CA.
Laura Reeder, Boston, MA. I teach teachers. I am a teacher. I am exhausted by the confusion that we perpetuate about who deserves to learn and who needs to be schooled.
Alexandra Garcia, Long Island, NY. My father emigrated from Spain in 1974, and we have been raised to be proud of our Spanish heritage and culture. In school, whenever I told people I was Spanish, they assumed I meant Mexican or Colombian or Puerto Rican. I’ve always been annoyed by that, because no one knows […]
Theresa Salomon, Parkland, FL. A few months ago, as my 7 year old son was about to seat next to a class mate, he was told that Blacks should stay on the other side. That sentence changed our lives. My son and I had many conversations about racisms, and throughout I was able to redirect, […]
Jennifer Campbell, Chaska, MN. Growing up in the 70’s and 80’s in suburban Minneapolis I did not have many opportunities to meet people from another culture or race from my own. I continue to work in a suburban school district as a special education teacher. Again, the dominant race and culture is white. Students of […]
Newo Zoils, Minneapolis, MN. I understand that as a white male in America I have in many unconscious ways perpetuated racism. I and my family have also benefited from over hundreds of years of white privilege. This is a systemic problem in America that continues to be unresolved. I am a teacher and one can […]
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, […]
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 […]
Steve Snair, Canada. I’m a white male. By today’s definition, I’m the most privileged person to step foot on the planet. Well, let me tell you a story…it’s a long one, but bear with me. I was born to a single mother, poor, and started off life in a poor neighborhood. I was fortunate that […]
Julie Steele, Lenexa, KS. We are not blind, but we do believe that love will win. We will not lose our hope that in our home, in our community, in our schools, in our nation, love has to win.
Howard T. Uhal, Mentor, OH. I attended twelve years of public school in the town of Mentor, Ohio, birthplace of President James A. Garfield. To the best of my knowledge, there was not a single black kid in the school system, and perhaps none in the entire town. This was in the 1954-1966 time frame. […]
Erin, MN. Racism isn’t in our curriculum, it’s not a lesson taught by chalkboards and worksheets. However it is learned. Yes, in school but also at home. It is taught through culture, through actions. This problem cannot be solved by a student’s eraser or a teacher’s pen.
Cameron McCall, Fontana, CA. The reason I choose these six words is because I don’t like how I am stereotyped to be un-educated and ghetto. I am a proud African American male in college and I am proud of the proper english that I use.
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 […]
Sophia Leavitt, USA. I haven’t thought much about my race until talking about it in class. Now I realize that there is so much that I don’t know and so much I need to learn.
James, Sacramento, CA. Prime example, Texas textbooks.
Cassandra Coats, El Cajon, CA. I grew up in a very multi-cultural school where being white was the minority. I was never teased for it, but I felt like I was missing out. I spent most of my childhood wishing I could be Asian, or Native American, or speak Spanish, etc. Sure, I have red […]
Sydney Arenas, Denver, CO. When I was growing up, the kids around me were punished for speaking Spanish in the classroom because the teachers assumed they were saying mean things about the other kids.
Jeremy Murray, Tuscaloosa, AL. Growing up my family moved around the country a lot. My brother and I had to attended many different schools but no matter where we were we always get told the same thing, “you don’t sound like you’re from here”, “you sound so proper”, and the my favorite one “y’all talk […]
Omar Eaton-Martinez, Oxon Hill, MD. Afro Diasporic communities need more opportunity to build coalition around blackness.
Virginia, Cambridge, MA. I’m half Filipina. And I’ve always thought of myself as half. But one day at a faculty meeting a colleague told me I “passed” as white. It’s bothered me ever since.
Erin Thomas, Riverside, CA. In 1956, when I was in 4th grade (9-10 years old), we had a less-than-kind teacher, but you were taught to respect your teacher, no matter what. We were sitting in a circle on the floor having some kind of sharing session and the teacher had a boy, Dale, stand up […]
Kelsey Connolly, Wilsonville, OR. “Think Grace, Act Grace, Teach Grace” I have always been a learner at heart, but not necessarily an excellent student. In school, I learned best by looking at examples and modifying the results with my own knowledge, and that worked out very well for me… up until I left my little […]
Anisha (Blair) Taylor, Riverside, CA. “Your beautiful. For a black girl.” . Those words spilled out the mouth of a young black male, in my 12th grade math class. Only then was reminded. That being a Dark skin Black Women, We are not considered to be as beautiful as other women. I was in second […]
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 […]
Clara Silverstein, Boston, MA. As one of the white children in Richmond, Virginia in the 1970s whose family willingly participated in busing, I had few friends of any race. What we could have used at the time was leadership instead of racist rhetoric, white flight, and school administrators who cancelled all after-school activities. The possibility […]
Fahad Alotaibi, Bowling Green, KY. I was born and raised in n Islamic country. When 9/11 happened, I had no idea that the world would turn on us as being Muslim. I was thinking that others would notice the difference between a religion and terrorism. I understand that when people get harmed, they start thinking […]
M. D. K. C., Deep South, USA. At some point in history, the powers that be thought it best to skew history. I’m sure the reasoning for this is very obvious. In my schools years, 89-current, we are not being taught the whole truth. Why? Whose agenda does this fit? Why were children not told […]
Xochitl Tovar, Riverside, CA. Growing up, my name was my worst enemy. Not only did my fellow schoolmates give me a hard time about it, but my teachers made it difficult for me as well. I became accustomed to spelling it out and pronouncing it for the comfort of others, which would turn into a […]
Ewa Konopka, Romeoville, IL. Look at this stunning couple. They see no color. THEY NEVER WILL. They see love, respect, honor, kindness, and goodness of each person. I wish the world would see through these kids eyes. The human race would be so much better of.
Reva Friedman, Overland Park, KS. We live in our comfy, constrained, psychic silos. My mission as a teacher educator is to create opportunities for my students break down those walls and create open, safe learning communities where all are welcomed and all are celebrated.
Diane Santorico CO I would love to see this project done with grade school children.
Deb Wunder Brooklyn, NY Thank you for doing this.
Maya PS Boston, MA Growing up in a color-challenged yet friendly midwest suburb, we were one of 3 families of color in our local school. Even though it was not an issue for most of our childhood, sometimes the desire to squelch our culture reared its ugly head. We did try to assimilate as much […]
Bryant, Chandler, AZ. I was raised in a family that didn’t think about race. I didn’t connect that I was white and others were black. My family just didn’t think that way, I wasn’t raised to think about the color of someones skin. Only the merit of their actions. The shock that would stay with […]
JMM, Nashville, TN. I’m white. 100% pale as can be white. I grew up as one of a small handful of white children in my elementary and middle school, and was relentlessly teased. White girl. Cracker. White b****. All names I was called. I had gum put in my hair. I was beaten up. I […]
Maria Pacheco, Riverside, CA. My parents never graduated high school. None of my family members have ever been to college. But this Chicana wants to be the first one to make a difference in my family to show them that it is never too late to go back to school and earn a degree. I […]
Andrea Krida Goff, Providence, RI. I’m a teacher in a wonderfully diverse urban high school in Providence. Every year during Spirit Week, one of the days is devoted to cultural celebration. We have African-Americans wearing colorful headwraps, Asians wearing kimonos, Dominicans waving their country’s flag, and me. Every year I struggle with a wardrobe that […]
Stephanie Moran, Durango, CO.
TheBadApple, USA. I have come home from a bad day at work and am looking for honest open dialogue. I am a white teacher who works with children of all races, shapes and forms. One student in particular I have worked with is struggling with issues such as lying and stealing. I have tried positive […]
Tunya Marie Loftis, Dallas, TX. I love who I am. I am the firstborn of my mother with four siblings under me. Strangely enough, when I was young, I didn’t know my Mom was white. She was my normal. She was just Mama. Who taught me how to read and color. She did my hair, […]
Jasmin Marie Harpe, Burlington, NJ. It has been hard to fit in to both societies growing up as a biracial child, especially being in academia where there are few people who look like me. I had a lot of race issues growing up with my father who has very fair skin, and my mother who […]
Molly Kampa, Hastings, MN. I identify as a white individual. Throughout my schooling I feel that I was inherently taught that white is the superior race. We were taught that black people went through slavery and that they were, and still are, discriminated against but that is primarily where there story ends in the classroom. […]
Rose Johnson, Redwood City, CA. I feel so dirty. I don’t know why. I feel racist even though I go out of my way to be kind to all the Mexican kids at my school, or the homeless African-American guy who camps near the 7-11 I go to after school, because I know they probably […]
Thomas M. Lenz. Weston, MA. I was the white kid in Providence. I stayed in my 4th grade class where I was happy. The Black kids were forced to come to unfamiliar territory and join us, and their neighborhood was closed. No wonder they became angry at the White world. Who wouldn’t be?
Anna Hill, Dallas, TX. I assist Hispanic school children with their homework after school. They bring their issues to me and the majority are black educators making differences between black children and Mexican children.