NanJo Carter, Richmond, CA. I grew up in the fifties and sixties. We moved to Japan when I was 2. We moved to Montgomery, AL when I was six and I attended Capitol Heights Elementary School. These were intense times with the National Guard escorting us to class and the school. We experienced discrimination and […]
Carrington Anderson, Indianapolis, IN. Never sure why I get “You’re so well spoken” so often. Not sure why people look at me and expect me not to be. Being well spoken isn’t “talking white.” English is my native language. Don’t act so shocked when I speak it well.
Somandy Real, Fremont, CA. Many people who’s first language was not English think that they’re English isn’t “fluent”, however they are fluent, it’s just in another dialect of English they have made on their own, and it is okay.
Loreina Gonzalez, Edwardsville, KS. Imagine not being able to have a proper conversation with anyone, because they all assume you do not speak English. They approach you at your job because they need help finding something but before they even ask their question, they ask if you speak English. They see you and a Caucasian […]
Fernando Martinez, McAllen, TX. Some people assume I don’t speak Spanish because I have light skin. But others assume I don’t speak English when they find out I lived my entire childhood in Mexico and English is actually my second language. Little do they know that I can speak both!
Nora Woodman, Fishers, IN. What one Jehovah’s Witness said to the other when I opened the door and had yet to say hello.
Christine Thai-Pappa Fairfax, VA I was at a National Convention for my sorority, which is an Asian- American Interest sorority. A number of us had gotten onto the elevator at our hotel. There were girls from the University of Virginia, Berkeley, Standford, Cornell, and Carnegie Melon. At the next floor a group of older Caucasian […]
Gabriela Denise Frank, Seattle, WA. Despite being a Detroit native who grew up in Arizona, I was mostly surrounded by white kids like me during my childhood. Though my family is Jewish, I never experienced discrimination while living in predominately Christian communities. Even as an adult in Seattle, which is more ethnically diverse, I live […]
Phillip T., Elk Grove, CA. Prior to going to school I didn’t know a lick of English. My parents spoke to me either in Cantonese or Vietnamese, but when I enter kindergarten I learned English for the first time. I don’t remember much of kindergarten, I don’t even remember her name. I was in E.S.L […]
FessunUp Cracka, San Francisco, CA. My father never said n*****, but the multitude of subtleties…assumptions…these are mine to deal with. When I was a teenager, I frequently made racial slurs…weird, considering that there were only 3 black kids in my 1500 student high school. Now it is different for me. This cracker minored in black […]
Juan Dominguez, Sacramento, CA. Mexican people say I am a shame to our people with gauges in my ears, the clothes I am wearing, the fact I do not have an accent when I speak. It’s like I was raised in America but by Mexicans that eat tortillas with every meal celebrate mothers day the […]
Austin Winchester, West Chester, PA.
Eric Nykamp, Grand Rapids, MI. My sense is that as white people, we too often choose to react or retreat from conversations about race because they are difficult to have. If we keep doing this, we don’t really make any progress. Yes, it is painful – for everyone. However, there is more beyond the pain. […]
Val’Dionna P., San Francisco, CA. Throughout the years it has been a bit difficult to understand the many emotions and stereotypes being of color and mixed. It is important to understand that how one is raised growing up in a complex world that continues to critique someone on the features or melancholy of their skin […]
Victor Santana-Melgoza, El Paso, TX. For most of my life I have been rejected by many people in the Hispanic/Chican@/Latin@ community for not learning and practicing Spanish (as well as not following other cultural cues). I was raised in a household where English was the main language spoken. I am 4th generation American, raised by […]
Yasmin Igal, Seattle, WA. Africa is a huge continent made of 1000s of languages and assuming I speak African because I’m Somali doesn’t makes no sense whats-ever. Born in America and being raised here, children use to ask me that and i thought it was a joke, but sadly it was a legit question for […]
Nicole Huber, Colorado Springs, CO. I am Asian American. Being an Asian American, no one clutches their purse tighter when I walk by, and no one finds it surprising that I teach at a university. But despite Asian Americans being perceived as the “model minority,” we are not seen as “real” Americans. I was adopted […]
Jewell Barnes, Chesapeake, VA. I can’t even keep track of the amount of times I was called whitewashed….. I’m sorry, I went to school and learned how to speak without saying N***** every other word.
Anonymous, Knoxville, TN. I’m from the Mountain South, where white privilege and racism take on a range of meanings outside the mainstream. I’ve heard our regional identity described as a kind of “otherized whiteness,” and I think that’s about right. Whatever else we were, we always knew our whiteness was the wrong kind. That’s what […]
Elysha O’Brien, Las Vegas, NV. Whites see me as Mexican, Mexicans view me as White because I don’t speak Spanish. I find it interesting that we don’t qualify other ethnic identities on the basis of language. Featured on NPR’s Morning Edition Segment: Living in Two Worlds but with Just One Language http://www.npr.org/2013/05/23/185839159/living-in-two-worlds-but-with-just-one-language
Åsa Nojd San Francisco, CA For better or worse, my accent changes others’ perception of me in an instant when they hear me speak. That used to make me feel very self-conscious and I sometimes avoided talking, not to reveal that I’m actually a foreigner and not just another white American. It took me a […]
Colette, Sacramento, CA. “I love Asian girls” “I love Japanese people” “Konnichiwa” “Ni hao” “Sayonara” “Kamsammida” ‘Your a bad Japanese. You don’t know Japanese.’ “Are you Chinese?” “I don’t think people in Osaka speak Kansaiben” “I know Chinese” “You look the most Japanese” “You could be an other Asian too” One Caucasian man approached my […]
Sandra Aguilar-Rodríguez, Bethlehem, PA. I am Mexican, I speak English, French and Spanish. I have a PhD in History, but still I find it difficult to understand why in the United States being bilingual or trilingual is not appreciated. I want my children to speak, read and write at least in another language, and if […]
Ricky Quezada, Sanger, CA. I don’t really embrace beng Mexican. I don’t speak Spanish. English is my only Language, but my father was born in Mexico so I know I am Mexican, but he was raised in America so Mexican traditions aren’t really pushed upon me and my family. We are more American than anything, […]
Jennnifer, Fresno, CA. No matter where I am, people will come up to me and start speaking Spanish. I assume it’s because they assume that im fully Mexican. but little do many know, I’m mayority Native American with a small amount of Hispanic in me. Because people asssume that I’m Mexican, they assume my first […]
Julianna, Diamond Bar, CA.
Submitted via Twitter: @macsmom, @totn #theracecardproject
Cynthia Deras, GA. Are you hispanic? Why don’t you speak spanish? What part of Mexico are your parents from? Say something in Spanish! Your not really Mexican if you dont speak spanish. Basically thats the reaction I get from the latino community when someone finds out I dont speak Spanish. I lost Spanish as a […]
Tesha Post, Holland, MI. I was adopted from Korea when I was six months old and grew up living in the U.S. with my White parents. As a result, I do not speak Korean or know how to cook Korean foods. People are often surprised to hear this– they may react with disappointment, confusion, or […]
Elizabeth D Atlanta, GA But I’m sure not white either. You think because I speak a certain way and dress a certain way, because I don’t fit your stereotypes, I’m not ‘black’ enough? Sorry if I shatter your preconceived notions, but as always I’m just being myself.
Jaimie Scanlon, Brattleboro, VT. My husband is bilingual Japanese-American. His mother, raising three boys in Iowa in the 1960s, made sure her sons grew up speaking, reading, and writing her own mother tongue. Now all three men are completely bilingual and realize the value of the gift she gave them. Before our kids were born […]
Island Vibe Jason , Submitted via Twitter: @IslandvibeJason.
Michelle Liv, New York City, NY. Brooklyn As a person of color, it still angers me that mainstream society still regards what is “white” as “normal” or the status quo. I hate being judged on my racial appearance and assumed that I do not speak English because I am not white. These words were uttered […]
Leslie Brooklyn, NY From the southwest. Speak English and Spanish.
Delia Moreno Valley, CA I am so tired of others expecting me to know every bit of Spanish, simply because I am Mexican. It is assumed that just because one is of the Mexican heritage they should know the Spanish language fluently. I do know a little bit of Spanish to kind of get me […]
Amanda Denise Ballantyne New York City, NY The Bronx I was at a dinner when a group ,mid 60s/early70s (age), of Caucasians were eating their sunday breakfast discussing an event. I specifically heard a section of the conversation, “I can’t stand moments like that. We are in America, speak English we are in America.” It […]
M. Rene Arnold, Charlotte, NC.
Irmarie Richmond, VA Just because I am Hispanic, it doesn’t mean I only know how to speak Spanish. I’ve been speaking English since I was 5 years old. I think I have it down.
Nisha Ahamed Jersey City, NJ My mother is German, raised in Canada and my father is Indian Muslim. I was born and still live in the US. I grew up in a very white area, and now live in a very multicultural city. When I walk down the street in the Indian section of town, […]
Krisha Jain Los Angeles, CA I’m an international student from India, and when I tell people that, I always get the same response.
Anonymous Des Moines, IA Drake University
Aitor Hurtada Spokane, WA
Christine Abraham Santa Monica, CA My mom is ashamed to speak Arabic in public in this post-9/11 world.
Basundhara Mukherjee South Burlington, VT I was born in India, lived in Saudi Arabia, and grew up mostly in a small town in Vermont. English is in my blood, just like Bengali. When someone asks me why my English is so good, it reminds me of the ignorance that still, unfortunately, exists in this country. […]
Abel TX Speak English only they say. America is a melting pot; think American, be American. If you assimilate you will fit in and be treated equally! But when you assimilate, all that you gain is the loss of your cultural roots and your ethnic identity. Because, there is always someone around the corner to […]
Annette Baran Katonah, NY I´ve been living in the U.S. for 9 years and was recently naturalized. My kids are truly bilingual. Although, I have many friends and a wonderful family I often feel that during a conversation when people notice my accent I´m not taken as seriously as native speakers.
Naomi Raquel Enright Brooklyn, NY My father was Jewish-American of Eastern European ancestry and my mother is from Guayaquil, Ecuador of African, Spanish, and Native American ancestry. I am bilingual, born in La Paz, Bolivia, raised in NYC and a citizen of all three countries. I am now married to an American of Irish and […]
Isaiah Santiago Philadelphia, PA My names Isaiah Santiago and I am Puerto Rican. Being Puerto Rican and being different is always something that I’ve dealt with in my life. I’ve always been called things like gringo(white boy) or just a fake Puerto Rican. All of this comes back to me not speaking Spanish. Everyone always […]
PHYLLIS HULL AKTURK Rockville, MD I check “other” for race because we are all just homo sapiens. Although Father was from Norman English+Dutch and Mother from German+English stock (both born and raised in Denver, Colorado), I didn’t know I was a WASP until I got to the dorm, as a junior, at American University, where […]
Natasha Jane Chrisandina USA Is it wrong for an Asian to speak good English? You ask, why do I speak such good English. I ask, why shouldn’t I?
Raka Nandi Memphis, TN I have been “complimented” with this type of statement many a time in my life in America. I often wonder about the racial undertone of this type of sentiment. Just because the color of your skin is brown, it doesn’t mean that you don’t have a good command of the English […]
Cliff Song Medford, MA I’m a Korean-American. My parents are from Korea. I was born and raised in Southern California (recently moved to Massachusetts). I spent some time teaching English in South Korea and traveled throughout Asia. Throughout my travels I’ve been asked by expatriates and locals to explain my origin but the complicated answer […]
Dominic Lim Oakland, CA Like many 1st generation Filipino-American children, my parents never taught me Tagalog (Filipino), because they wanted me and my siblings to speak perfect English. And though I appreciate that they wanted to protect us from racism and bullying regarding any sort of accent we might get from learning Tagalog — I’m […]
Erick Ruiz Lakewood, CA People sometimes, I guess mix Spanish with the term Mexican being a language. Besides I’m not Mexican, I’m Guatemalan, so I doubt I speak Mexican .
Sayeeda Brooklyn, NY On a predominately white college campus in the late 80’s early 90’s I was often the only African Caribbean person in a class. Anytime issues around African Americans, Caribbean people or Africans came up all heads turned, to me as if I were an expert or authority. My classmates didn’t know this […]
Sameer Belgaumi Ann Arbor, MI Understanding Race Project- University of Michigan I’m a Pakistani-American who grew up in Saudi Arabia. I hear this question so often that I wish I had a better reason than “I was born speaking it.” The truth that English was one of the first languages I learned, seems like such […]
Mary K. Coseo NY I am a Korean adoptee and was raised in the United States. I was reunited with my Korean birth family about 12 years ago. Although I am the same race as other Koreans and my birth family, what I really need to transcend the barriers is the ability to speak the […]
Karin Kross Levenstein Austin, TX Korean adoptee, adopted as an infant by white parents. “Are you Chinese? Japanese? What are you then?” Always weighing out exactly what is meant when someone asks “where are you from?”, and then that sinking feeling (after you say “I’m from Austin” or “I grew up in DC”) when they […]
James P. Ayers Ft. Wayne, IN Dear Michele, We enjoyed your Fort Wayne Presentation. My 6 and 5 words in two versions: THE RACE IS IS OUR CENTER or RACE IS AT OUR CENTER (in 5 words) I was tempted to ask a question as a follow up to your including the reference to diction […]
Anna Lemos Redlands, CA These words were spoken to me by an educator when he learned I was bilingual – I spoke English and Spanish. In his mind my English should have been heavily accented and broken.
Janette Santos North Quincy, MA I was at the local grocery store mulling over which yogurt to get, when a middle-aged woman came up to me. The first words out of her mouth were, “Do you speak English?” I was so shocked at the time that before I could even get a chance to respond, […]