I am not who you think.

Michelle DePass, Portland, OR. I live in Portland, a City that is overwhelmingly white. Our State Constitution was a racist one. Slavery was not allowed, however Black people were discouraged by a clause in the Constitution that says that Black people who locate in Oregon are subject to public whippings every 6 months until they […]

Slavery by All, Ended by Whites

Michael, San Rafael, CA. While all races practiced slavery, Whites were the ones to end it. All Christian White countries ended slavery approximately 150 years ago but sadly it is still practiced by Blacks, Asians, Asian-Indians and Muslim Whites today.

Relief, family pride, and then hope

Joy Los Angeles, CA Looking into my family history, at first I found relief at finding no record of slave ownership, even among ancestors in the South. Was it just because they could not afford to buy slaves? But then I found a transcript of a sermon my great-great grandmother’s brother gave at a church […]

Stop Blaming Whites for Your Problems

Anonymous, Austin, TX. Blaming all white people for slavery is the same as blaming all black people for Boko Haram. If I am to be held responsible for what some white guys unrelated to me did centuries ago, then you should be to blame for what your people are actively doing right now. This goes […]


Slavery’s legacy broke my family pride.

Katherine E. Byroade, West Hartford, CT. When I was a child, my southern grandmother took great delight in the fact that she was a Jamestown descendant and DAR member and saw her membership in those organizations as part of her legacy to her granddaughters, ensuring our social success. She was matter of fact that the […]

Dred Scott. Oil on canvas by Louis Schultze, 1888. Acc. # 1897.9.1. Missouri Historical Society Museum Collections. Photograph by David Schultz, 1999. NS 23864. Photograph and scan (c) 1999-2006, Missouri Historical Society.

The Civil War Was About Slavery

Tim Fall, Davis, CA. There are still people – in the North and the South – who will tell you the Civil War was fought over states’ rights. They are wrong. It was fought over slavery. Any other issue comes in a distant second: http://wp.me/p2EmLc-1Kx

Union troops killed by Slavery Supporters

Larry Morgan, Washington, NC. I have long regarded the Confederate Battle Flag (CBF) as an anachronism for which we Americans have shown remarkable tolerance. It is to the nation’s credit that although Jefferson Davis spent some time in prison, he and his top generals were not summarily executed, as would have happened in most other […]


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 […]

Not racist, proud to be white

Rusty Loiselle, Huntsville, AL. I don’t have a problem with anyone of any color. Color is not something we had a choice in. I have a problem with ignorance, thugs, people who are morally bankrupt and think the world owes them a living. I have a problem with people who think that they should receive […]

NYI TC and MN 2015

In Conversation with Ta-Nehisi Coates at AtlanticLive New York Ideas 2015

REPOST:  AtlanticLIVE online – May 20, 2015 Atlantic national correspondent Ta-Nehisi Coates and NPR host and special correspondent Michele Norris have a conversation about Norris’s Race Card Project, Coates’s noteworthy Atlantic cover story, “The Case for Reparations,” and how the conversation about race has evolved in the past year. See more from New York Ideas 2015: […]

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Ta-Nehisi Coates reads from his new book in conversation with Michele Norris at Lannan Foundation lecture in Santa Fe

REPOST Lannan.org April 15, 2015, Ta-Nehisi Coates, writer, journalist, and educator, is also a senior editor for The Atlantic, where he writes about culture, politics, and social issues. His recent piece titled The Case for Reparations intricately and provocatively traces the history of racism in the United States from slavery to recent examples of housing discrimination. The […]

Misreading slavery due to modern morals.

Rikki Clark, Milwaukee, WI. I teach African-American literature and folklore at the university level. Often white students will say in class how they would have never owned slaves. But there is a fundamental problem when we view history through a twenty-first-century lens. Our modern morals and values are out of context. I would hope, if […]

1610 – bible used to bless slavery

Lisa Smith, Boston, MA. In 1610 Catholic priest asked his superiorsif slavery was condoned by God. Answer came back…none of more learned men of cloth saw anything against the enslavement of another human being. I’m white and l seeth with anger over what happens (ed) to Blacks.

Accurate racial history must be taught.

Heathyr, Klamath Falls, OR. If we really want to confront racism and eradicate it, we need to be taught an accurate history of this country’s racist practices. Racism wasn’t just the genocide of the Natives, slavery, or Jim Crow. It was redlining and eugenics and the discoveries of pseudo-science.

My ancestors do not define me.

R.M. Lutz, East Lansing, MI. My color does not define me. Why should being white make me feel guilty? I didn’t want slavery. I didn’t want Jim Crow. I didn’t ask to be born into a family that is upper middle class. But somehow, people blame me like it’s my fault. Like I wanted to […]

People of Color shouldn’t be here

Brian R, Philadelphia, PA. The institution of slavery was a heinous act, that not only tore tens of thousands of Africans from their homeland, but has given this country a group of people who are unable to thrive in our society. African Americans would be better off in Africa. The U.S. Government should pay reparations […]

Studying slavery makes me feel ashamed.

Sam Henry, Ashville, NC. As a white male Social Studies teacher I always have a difficult time teaching slavery. From what I know about my family tree I don’t have any family members that owned slaves but that is hardly the point. It is a shameful period in our history but one worth studying. I […]

Underpaid? Overworked? Frustrated? NOW imagine slavery.

John Leo, Sag Harbor, NY. This may be redundant since the release of and discussion about Twelve Years a Slave, but for many years I’ve seen and heard people complain about bosses and working conditions and I’ve empathized. But I’ve also reflected on how these modern days woes compare to SLAVERY. Being the property of […]


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 […]

Stop awaiting apologies just do it!

Roberta Smith, Boston, MA. During the conversation, once the white guy spoke about self responsibility a lot of black people were visibly upset and I feel, most black people in the audience stopped listening because they were “offended”. The black rapper basically encouraged black people NOT to get involved in government. What if Obama felt […]


A constructed tool of the oppressors

Phillip Johnson, Saint Louis, MO. History shows the historically oppressed are not the ones who use race to their advantage. In order to galvanize support for trans atlantic slavery – one race had to be made to feel superior to another.

No One Is Better Than You…

Kim Skillern Samuels, Cleveland Heights, OH. I lived in a neighborhood of black people, and went to an inner city public school. When friends found that I’d be moving to the suburbs they teased me, and said “Those honkeys are gonna chase you home from school.” At the age of six I thought a “honkey” […]

Couldn’t convince grandmother slavery was immoral

Denise Pierce, Sterling, VA. My grandmother who was born in NC in 1901 and lived to be 105 tried to instill in me a love for my land-owning ancestors who also owned slaves. At 99 she was still quoting from the KKK playbook that taught slaves were lucky to have been brought to America and […]

I thought slavery ended decades ago.

Alexa Ogno Salem, MA In the 1980’s, I went to a Catholic prep school that was full of privileged white kids. My good friend, Duchess Harris, was one of the few students of color. There was a single African American teacher. One of the student government fundraising activities was a “Slave Auction” in which fellow […]


Caucasian, trying not to be white

Anonymous Mobile, AL I was born and raised Caucasian, though of course, like most Caucasians, I was referred to and referred to myself as “white.” But like so many, I found myself attracted to African American culture, and, generally, more accepted by African Americans. As I’ve grown, becoming an instructor of English and therefore, an […]

Well, you weren’t a slave so…

Brendon Milwaukee, WI I’ve heard this used in conversations and discussions around race and it is embarrassing. It completely discounts the persons position as if to say “you’re free now or I never owned a slave, why are you complaining?”.

But I never owned any slaves.

John Staunton, VA It is factually true that I never owned slaves. But while this statement is true for every American person of any race, it is also the great white excuse. I think that all people today of every race owns responsibility for the moral and historical consequences of slavery. But today’s descendants of […]

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Lizzie’s Journey from Plantation to Farm

Michelle Hill, Oakland, CA. Our family is so fortunate that my great, great, great grandparents were not separated from each other and their children during slavery. Because the family stayed together, we have a family Bible, pictures and records that document their lives in this country. My great grandmother, Mama Lizzie, was born in 1870 […]

Don’t blame me for the past.

Greg Camp Fayetteville, AR I did not live in the era of legal slavery or Jim Crow. I did not support those laws. And don’t waste my time with talk about privilege. Claiming that white males have privilege simply by virtue of being white males denies the diversity in outcomes that we experience.

Angry I’m unforgiven because I’m white

Teresa Pinnell TX Slavery and all the rest is wrong – I never agreed with any of it. But I feel the anger and resentment from blacks sometimes and I just feel like saying “I had nothing to do with slavery!” I shouldn’t be condemned because I am white any more than they who are […]

Slavery, stolen opportunities. Abolition, broken promises.

Delphine Fenderson Birmingham, AL So much was taken from my people during slavery. We are the only Americans that worked and built this country and got nothing in return. It continued with Jim Crow, share cropping, low minimum wages, stereotypes, having to fight for basic human rights. In order to maintain this status quo this […]

Color blind…more than a dream?

Michael H Chicago, IL I grew up listening to Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy talk about their dream of a society that one day would be “color blind”. Forty years later, I feel like we’re as far as ever from that goal. In fact, I suspect most Americans would prefer to perpetuate the distinctions […]

Slavery’s legacy haunts “value” of blacks

Piper Kendrix Williams Wyndmoor, PA This morning (6/27/13) I heard the story on Morning Edition’s Race Card segment of the sliding fee scale based on the race of a child being adopted. The conversation touched on the difficulty and complicated nature of assigning differing “value” to black, bi-racial, and white children. It seemed clear to […]

Topic: slavery. All eyes on Brooke

Daniel Portland, OR I grew up in a working-class and ever-so-slightly diverse part of a very white city, but I the bus across town with two dozen others to school K-12. As I grow older I sometimes recall classroom memories that make my current self uncomfortable. In 7th grade social studies we discussed slavery, and […]

Denial keeps these wounds from healing.

E. Martin Hampton Roads, VA So often people act as if slavery was some prehistoric event whose effects should have dissipated. In reality, 150 years have not passed since the end of the Civil War. In reality, slavery not only induced poverty in African Americans but wealth in whites; slave owner or not free labor […]

1619 to 2012 – not enough change!

Erin R. San Antonio, TX For too long I was unaware of my own racial privilege (as a white woman), but thanks to my graduate studies, my mentors, and my conversations with friends it is overwhelmingly apparent that slavery exists today in the US. To believe in a post-racial US is to ignore one’s own […]