Kristiane Valenza, Vicksburg, MS. After moving to rural Mississippi from New York to teach Spanish at the high school level, I’m frequently met with confusion as to how I have an “ethnic” name and can teach Spanish, but I have fair skin and European features. When people ask me, “Are you from Vicksburg?” they really […]
Cesar Bazo, Auburn, AL. I know deep inside myself that I belong to a minority group here in the United States. I am a Peruvian living in Alabama. However, the fact that I belong to a minority group does not make me feel inferior or less likely to succeed. On the contrary, I believe this […]
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 […]
Jamie, Wylie, TX. I live in a society that I am afraid of the world that my kids will have to be adults in. We are going backwards instead of forwards. We are losing our view of everyone is the same, no matter how different we might look. I am having to have HARD conversations […]
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 […]
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.
Liza Boscow, Winnetka, IL.
Emily Patten, Phoenix, AZ. I grew up in a city with a substantial lack of racial diversity, yet my parents and teachers were able to instill values of acceptance and empathy. In my adult life, I’ve found that those two beliefs go pretty far in the way of understanding those who don’t look like me. […]
Joyce Corley, Montrose, CO. As an educator, I witnessed the results of racism that targeted the most vulnerable people in our society.
Joan Evans, Lawrencevillve, GA. And I am 100% white. But (far too many of) my students associate “white” with oppression and bigotry. When they tell me I’m not white, they are trying to tell me I’m not a racist. Telling me I’m not white is a compliment. Pretty damning, huh?
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 […]
Jim Schultheiss, St. Johns, MI. I have always felt that I needed to be very careful and thoughtful on issues related to prejudice. Growing up in as a white, heterosexual male in a community largely lacking diversity, I learned I needed to listen very carefully to the thoughts and experiences of others and not impose […]
Karen W. Gronau, Perry Hall, MD. I taught elementary school for four decades. I saw a good change over the years. My classes became more integrated. More importantly, over time, many of my students did not see color in their choice of friends. Change is way too slow though.
Jamie Coppa, Asbury Park, NJ. As a music teacher with an almost entirely black and hispanic student body, I was met with stories of oppression, lack of food, disrupted sleep, abuse, incarceration, and even the murder of the loved ones they so deeply cared for. I will never forget the beautiful music my students expressed […]
Laura Speegle Waco, TX I teach elementary school in Waco, Texas. I can’t remember why this little bitty girl, maybe 4 or 5 years old, was sitting in my lap crying… but suddenly she reached out and stroked my pale white are and looked up at me in surprise. After making this observation she snuggled […]
Karen Gephart Altschul, Vernon Hills, IL. I was five, the first time I can remember somebody asking me that question. “What are you? Chinese or something?” Huh? Um, what are you talking about? I’ve been asked this question, “what are you”, on the first day at a job. A girl from China asked me if […]
Kokujin Cameron Salt Lake City, UT When I was in kindergarten and in class, I had to use the restroom. The teacher had forgotten and I was unaware but there was a girl using the restroom already. The bathroom is part of the classroom and has it’s own corridor which leads down a hallway to […]
Eric Miyeni Johannesburg I don’t like the phrase “body part” much. At its worst it has a tendency to remind me of murders and psychotic murderers. At its best it reminds me of the work of medical doctors. Don’t get me wrong. I love doctors. I’m just not cut out to do what they do. […]
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.
Hugo Santos, Auburn, AL. I am a literature professor in Brazil and after completing 40 years of age, I’ve decided to come to United States and attend a PhD program. If a program of this importance is already quite challenging, it becomes even more challenging when it is done in a second language, especially if […]
Mariah Kerry, Auburn, AL.
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 […]
Josh Staveley-O’Carroll, Natick, MA. I teach at the college level (in Massachusetts, Virginia, South Carolina, and Washington, DC) and consistently my black students are in the bottom half of my class in terms of grades. This effect is especially pronounced in my black male students.
Aku Kadogo, teacher South Korea I am an African American woman from Detroit, MI. I have lived in Australia since 1978. My daughter is African American Australia (Caucasian father). My grand daughter’s father is from Thailand. I am currently living and teaching in S. Korea. I have spent many years with Indigenous people in Australia, […]
Robert McAlister, Lexington, SC. Grew up in segregated south in a single parent home. Always felt on the margins but later in life realized my mom was ahead of her time in accepting and seeing everyone as God’s children.
Clare Hilger As an artist and art teacher I believe art can make us consider important issues in our world though visual means impacting us intellectually aesthetically, and emotionally. We enrich our lives through the sharing of art.
Rose, San Jose, CA. Class project @ San Francisco State U.
Jean, Cathedral City, CA. I am a teacher and they try to tell us that we all have bias. In 11 years I have only kicked 3 kids out of class and none have been African American. They told me if I took “this test” I would be surprised, guess what, no bias. Screw them […]
Khoa Le, Elk Grove, CA. Ever since I started school as a kid, whether it’s a math class, history, or English, a teacher will always have technical difficulties with their computer. They then ask the class, does anyone know how to fix this. *An asian kid raises his hand and helps the teacher.*As i get […]
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 […]
Brad Crump, Floral Park, NY. As a Presbyterian Pastor I serve a diverse congregation (Guyanese, Jamaican, Black, White). As a teacher I work for a Middle School in Springfield Gardens (97% non white). While I spend every day serving the diverse cornucopia of NYC I am seen by many as the problem, the privilege, the […]
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 […]
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.
Deb Wunder Brooklyn, NY Thank you for doing this.
Sarah Brookner Minneapolis, MN I am a white female. I grew up in a wealthy suburb of Minneapolis. My students are mostly Somali, African American and Mexican American. They all have different needs. I care deeply about all of them. Some days are hard for me to connect and relate to their experiences, which are […]
Alena, Des Moines, IA. I was the only white teacher in the City of Little Rock Early Childhood Center, a school partnered with Little Rock School District that hired certified teachers and had a great full-day program for young, inner-city 3 1/2-5 year old students from “the projects.” Many of my young charges had no […]
Joanne Pope Melish Wakefield, RI
Phyllis Gabare, Kansas City, MO. Race and Ethnic teacher gave his students this project. thank you I enjoyed doing it . –
Anonymous, Lincoln, NE. I teach Native Studies (among other things) at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and I volunteer with the Native groups in the state prison system. Walking across the quad I see mostly white faces– walking across the yard not so much. Makes me sad. And mad. Also wanted to comment on your “South […]
Dr. Amelia Crosby, Charleston, SC.
Anonymous, Canton, MI. As a conscious black man in America, I’m aware of the institutional racism that still exist. I am an educator in the urban community and have seen some names that will hinder some of my students from getting picked out of the pile of resumes. I’m thankful my parents named my brother […]
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 […]
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 […]
Collette M. Bloom, Houston, TX. It is a wondrous and wonderful experience to see the “AHA” moment appear on White students faces when they finally understand about tragedy and waste of chattel slavery. Many were quite distressed about the willingness of so many to collude in developing the Black Codes of the South. Statutory inhumanity […]
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 […]
James Johnson, Seattle, WA. One of my white peer teachers asked each black student if they wanted some BLACK COFFEE upon entering her class. Each student said no thank you. She asked them again with the emphasis on BLACK COFFEE. The student was 13 years old. This occurred in 2012 not 1932.
Danika Thiele, Florida Southern College, FL.
Shakira, Phoenix, AZ. One day after our teacher snapped photos of our class she developed them in black and white and scattered them out on a table and told us to find ourselves. I got frustrated because I could not find my photo; that day my mother was volunteering as class mother and she pointed […]
Chris B, Landenberg, PA. I am white and teach art in an inner city school. I get hugs from children of color every day! I have the best job in the world! What are society does to these children tomorrow and in the days that follow is inexcusable and reprehensible. The inequality must stop if […]
Manuela Bernardez Kuchta, Pittsbugh, PA. It can be very frustrating at times explaining myself or a good teaching experience depending on who’s questioning me.
Nancy Sale. Pleasant Hill, CA. During my career as a public school teacher this statement (which I made up) was written on a paper banner by my students and hung on the wall of every one of my classrooms for years – I still have the banner even though I am now retired.
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 […]
Ed Maietta Savannah, GA After 30 years of teaching in both diverse and not-so-diverse environments, I now teach at the oldest HBCU in Georgia. If there is an achievement gap, it has nothing to do with intelligence or strength of character.
Ernie Lee Savannah, GA Struggling with my whiteness and my student’s blackness until we connect. I am a good teacher and after a while I don’t color just students who want to learn. It is more of a socio-economic divide, but I will never know what it means to be black as my students will […]
Zuhura Hussein Houston, TX
Patti Bear Middletown, DE This was a exchange when I was in 5th grade, over a call in a kickball game. I know now what I was supposed to call my friend after she called me a cracker but I thought she was making fun of my white face with freckles so I responded with […]
Bobbi Siegelbaum Bronx, NY I found my political voice and activism as a 10th grader in 1961, in my Social Studies class during a lesson on bussing. My teacher was a racist.
Lynn Schaefer Conway, AK As a university-level ESL teacher, I interact with students from all over the world every day. I am well read in the areas of cultural differences and intercultural communication. Yet recently I have come to realize that I don’t know as much as I could about different cultural groups within my […]
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 […]
Ted Willis, Jr. Cary, NC As a teacher, I have seen how, with each passing generation, race is becoming less of an issue with my students. Most of the racial tension is bred from their parents and the time frame most of then grew up in (however, the parents are become the generation in which […]
Vivian Dimmel Liverpool, NY Retired inner city school teacher who had to return to the suburbs and the mindset of ignorant people in my retirement.
Sharren Wellsboro, PA I was floored when a special education teacher called me a racist because I did not give her daily lesson plans I had developed on my own. The daily plans took hours to develop, and she never volunteered to help. Instead she made copies for herself, without my knowledge, to use in […]
Sister Kathleen Reilly, UAC, CSAC Union City, NJ The above summarizes my main prayer when the movement for racial equality got started. I think of myself as more a part of it now than I was then as I am now teaching in a predominantly minority high school. A large percentage of the young men […]
Deborah Council Wilmington, DE In 1970, I was doing my practice teaching in Barrington, NJ and took on of my student’s to an outing. When I returned her to her home, her mother informed me that the neighbor approached her and told her how lucky she was to have had two (2) maids in a […]
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 […]
Marianna Boncek Woodstock, NY I am a high school teacher. I have been accused of being a racist so many times I can’t count. I am not a racist, nor have I ever been. I actually have a multi-racial family by marriage. The first time a student accused me of being a racist I was […]
Shanita Nelson Fort Wayne, IN I hate when people say they are colorblind…because then they are ignoring pieces of everyone. Please notice me is what I say when I hear those words. I am black, I am a teacher, I am a wife…do not ignore any parts of who I am!!!
June Jacobs Submitted at the Penn Central Conference
Tracee H. Norfolk, VA It’s amazing how similar everyone is, while somehow they just can’t see eye-to-eye. As a white teacher I get called racist often, while my blood boils in rage every time whites view/treat blacks as inferior or as the government’s unfairly “privileged ones.”
Leslie Owen Pensacola, FL Submitted via: NPR’s Talk of the Nation