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Latin, Bald, Tattoos = Thug = Mistaken Identity

Eduardo Meza, Albany, NY. I get it! I look like the typical thug you will find in disadvantaged neighborhoods throughout most of California. I know I am immediately judged by my cover. People mistake my form of self-expression for some sort of territorial gang branding. I am gay, latino, well-educated (Master’s Degrees), family-oriented and a […]

My shopping bags don’t get checked.

Ashley Cooper Hair, Washington,DC. Georgetown Day School In the town where I went to high school, the privilege I felt was one of class. There were almost no people of color. Living in Washington, DC, I feel my white privilege constantly. Not only am I not followed around Best Buy, my shopping bags are never […]

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Highly educated black woman. …so what

Levaughn, Grand Blanc, MI. I’m a master social worker and received my accelerated advanced degree from a top ten university…MSU… I am an outpatient therapist and attained this job in less than a year from graduating. Which in my field is highly unlikely. I have worked very hard to go from poverty to the “American […]

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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 […]

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Being Brown Makes Me Look “Hood”

Victor Vega, Los Angeles, CA. What troubles is on his mind? What’s he hiding from the camera? What’s in his jacket? That’s what I think when I see a picture of mine taken from several years back. If a white person was wearing street attire, one might think he’s cool, trendy, or might not even […]

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Not THAT kind of Black Girl.

Lateefah Torrence, Brooklyn, NY. At the corner bodega, I’m one of those Black Girls who the Middle Eastern owner must watch from his elevated podium behind the bullet-proof glass. On the subway, I’m a Black Girl on WIC who can give Russian ladies directions to the welfare office. In the taxi, I’m the Black Girl […]

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Noir, Schwartze, Negredo – I Am Black

Courtney Jones, Denver, CO. People hide behind the stereotypes, racism, politics, and labels to avoid CONNECTING with others. Are we afraid people have more in common with us than we allow our differences to believe? My pride in my race contributes to my Life & community. It takes nothing from you & we all gain […]

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” […]

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We’re black We love the outdoors

James Edward Mills, Madison, WI. On June 24,2013 Adina Scott made a satellite phone dispatch from 17,200 feet on Mount McKinley in Denali National Park. As part of the climbing team Expedition Denali, she and the 18 others had already spent a total of 16 days on the mountain and nearly a week camped at […]

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Hey Dominicans! You too are black.

Cristina Reyes, Houston, TX. I chose the six words I wish I could go around the streets of Santo Domingo yelling. I have never understood, in all my years, why the Dominican culture steadily continues to deny their “blackness.” Their children aren’t taught to consider themselves “negro” instead they are to consider themselves “indio.” The […]

I am German, not a Nazi

Peter Alison, Richmond, VA. I come from an Austrian mother and an American father, so when people ask me about my ethnic background I tell them I’m half-Austrian. Throughout middle and high-school this elicited responses asking me if I hated Jewish people, or if I praised Hitler. It was annoying at first, but later it […]

I don’t see you as Black

Adrienne Crew Los Angeles, CA I’m always troubled about the concept of being an “Oreo” and not really projecting an “African American” identity but rather always being the upper middle class nerd that I was born and refusing to “code switch.” What is “Black” anyways? I get this comment both from whites and non-whites.

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Honey, you must come from money.

Christine Faris Lufkin, TX Actually, no. Yes, I was blessed to come from a middle class family. And yes, I’ve been blessed to travel the world. Wanna know how? I worked my ass off. Blew out a knee, graduated high school early, started college at 16, took summer school, worked multiple jobs, all so I could […]

What is replacing racism is scary.

Sheryl Huntsville, AL There are genuinely good people that would discourage racism towards minorities any day, but who unfortunately are extremely ignorant, so their perception of other races are still innacurate and stereotypical. For example, a friend of mine–Black–started working at a law firm. He and his White co-workers were talking about politics one day, […]

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Yes I’m tobacco-pickin white trash

Tracy Hart Washington, DC Yes, I’m from a tobacco-pickin, Southern white trash family, and I mean that in the most endearing way. Some stereotypes my family breaks: we were Southern but poor sharecroppers rather than slave-owners. Other stereotypes my family embraces: using discriminatory language in equal measure across all those who are not white Southerners. […]

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She’s not my maid, I’m hers

Mara Floyd Fort Myers, FL Doris* and my mother have been best friends for over 40 years. Both teachers with their masters’ degrees, the two women from neighboring cities met at an educational conference. They were as different as could be. One was married, one was divorced. One owned a house, the other lived in […]

White and poor, must be stupid.

Aris Foucault Etheridge Leverett, MA I think it’s possible that the poor urban white perspective may be a helpful one in thinking about race as it relates to poverty. What are the similarities between the poor urban white experience and the poor urban black experience? What are the differences, and how do these differences effect […]

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I am not defined by society

Justina Adarkwah Christchurch, VA I’ve always had a problem with identity, but ironically I realized it was me that thought I had a problem, it was society, my community, everyone else who had an opinion about ‘what’ I was and who I should be. I’m not sorry to let everyone one know that its not […]

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Name of cemetery doesn’t change history

Lonna Jo Bowen-AlMoctar, Louisville, KY. I am from a clan of hillbillies in Eastern Kentucky. My family has a swath of land, called Bowen Farms, near Red River Gorge. As long as I can remember, the old cemetery on my family’s land has been called the “slave cemetery”. My Uncle has always kept up with […]

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Didn’t know/you don’t sound black.

Charity Son Anchorage, AK I was disappointed that this seems to even surprise a congenitally blind white woman I work with–“I didn’t know you were black!.” Happens on the phone as well. In person, black people, white people, all kinds of people seem to resent the way I speak. What does it even mean, to […]

From a white teenage girl’s perspective

Victoria N. Fortson, GA My ancestors came to America just like many others. Just because I am white, does not mean my family “owned” “slaves”. When an African American girl says to me “you’re so lucky to have that hair” or “I would pay a lot for some of your hair”, it makes me mad. […]

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Where are you from? You’re exotic!

Abbie Elliott Leesburg, VA For my entire adult life, dating has been a challenge. As an Asian-American, I vehemently resisted falling into stereotypes. But, as an Asian-American on the dating scene, my looks delivered my first impression for me. Men developed ideas about me even before I spoke. Where they expected to find a quiet, […]

We invent race to justify intolerance

Joshua San Antonio, TX We are all one race and have only minor different biological features. Do you really believe that is the driving force behind our discrimination and stereotypical caricaturizations of each other? If we were all perfectly homogenized and mixed race, would will still discrimination against each other based on class, money, or […]

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What color will your kid’s be?

J. Torres Kansas City, MO My father is from Puerto Rico, born and raised. My mother is Colombian. However, raised in Panama. They met in the 1950’s while my dad was in the U.S. Army. Us kids always called ourselves PanaRicans. Until my mother gave us her true background. I attended college in Michigan in […]

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African american boys like my booty

Wendy Stokesbary Cedar Rapids, IA I went to middle school with lots of African american students and noticed the boys seemed to admire my curvy figure- I was flattered, not frightened, because no one ever tried to hurt me. I grew up with a curiosity and respect for diversity, and partly because of my professional […]

Always felt different. All are unique.

Nona Lynn Simons Orangevale, CA My Six Words: Have you ever felt different from everybody else? I have and sometimes I still do! In the fifth grade, I was different because I was part Jewish and my classmates weren’t. They went to church and I didn’t. During the last week of school, one of my […]

Man tried for shooting black teen.

KK Boas Austin, TX Associated Press says “A man with a gun. A black teen, shot dead” ABC news says “The trial of a Florida man accused of shooting a black teenager begins today in a case that has drawn similarities to the George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin case.” Even the Daily Beast, in an […]

You can’t see what I hear.

Amy Broadie Minot, ND I frequently overhear things said by people who don’t realize that I am half black and half white. On several occasions, I have received numerous apologies from coworkers or friends for saying something stereotypical/rude/racist after they learned about my background. I always reply by saying, “You can’t see what I hear.” […]

Light skin doesn’t make me privileged

Em New York, NY Born in Mexico, to mexican parents, crossed the border to find a better life, learning english on tv, grew up in Queens, the most ethnically diverse county in the US, with Colombians, Dominicans, Puerto Ricans, Mexicans, Ecuadorians, two brothers many shades darker than I, my mother “the help,” always having too […]