Political climate gave HATE safe space

Kelly Ferrell, Sterling, VA. I am disappointed but not surprised that charismatic politicians have taken the easy route and invested in hate rather than commit to making our country and our world more inclusive. Home-grown extremist groups that terrorized communities of color had been marginalized for some time. Now they feel that they have an […]

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Your fear is not my fault.

Lawrence Dortch, Vienna, VA. I’m tired of smiling all the time to alleviate other people’s fears of me. I am not a monster and I shouldn’t have to dress a certain way or smile when I don’t feel like it to make white people feel comfortable.

Scared that we are not enough

Tanya, Manakin Sabot, VA. My (adopted) son is biracial, his bio-father is unknown. I will never be able to connect him with his biological African American family. There is a void that I will never be able to fill for him . This breaks my heart as his mama.

To belong everywhere and nowhere simultaneously

Amanda Baran, Arlington, VA. “No, I’m not Mexican. Nope, not Latino. I’m an American who’s half Syrian and half Indian. Well actually, my father’s former nationality was Syrian. His parents were refugees from Turkey who were expelled during the Armenian genocide. No, they weren’t Armenian, they were Christians who were forced out and into Syria […]

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We are not what we were

Kellianne Murtha, Chesapeake, VA. Times have changed, people have changed so why is “race” still thought to be an ongoing problem? We are no longer who our ancestors were and we no longer believe all of which they did. Race should not be a problem and should not be a deciding factor for things, such […]

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I’m Pavla Pletkova. And I’m black.

Pavla Pletkova, VA. Looking at my picture you could never tell. Listening to me speak you could never tell. What I’ve been told is I look like a “regular light skinned black girl”. But little do they know I’m far from regular. As far as I know, I have never met another Czech-Ghanaian person, well, […]

It’s Okay To Talk About Race

Courtnay S., Arlington, VA. Why are we so uncomfortable talking about racial privilege? Does anyone shy away from saying they are privileged because of their income, sex, language, or education? Western privilege exists. English-speaking privilege exists. On that same token, white privilege exists. It is okay to have money, to be male, to be American, […]

Not hispanic enough, not white enough

Alfida Cruse, St. Louis, MO. Growing up half Dominican and half Missouri German (white) constantly left me feeling not white enough for the white kids and not Dominican enough for the Hispanic kids. I have been called out and subsequently shunned when my mother picked me up from school in Arlington, VA (“you’re WHITE?!”) and […]

Can only white people be American?

Nyssa Thongthai Richmond, VA I am Thai-American. I was born here and raised in Thailand. I came back here when I was 15. I’ve lived in Norfolk, VA for 12 years now and when people asked me where I’m from, I would answer Norfolk. And lots of time they would counter me and say “No, […]

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I carry hope through young musicians

Virginia Jones, Danville, VA. I’m a 54 year old white lady living back in the south after 15 years away from home. Its not the same everywhere. I’ve been an RN in central Phoenix, a wife of a Vietnam Veteran who was terribly discriminated by his own country and I’m a mother of a blonde […]

Feeling Conflicted about my family history

Romaine Martin II, Richmond, VA. I Think Ancestry.com is very therapeutic. You can spend hours researching your family’s cold cases. One bit of information I found out left me feeling unsure of how to feel at all. “Green Gore was born, in 1816, the son of Robert Gore (1783 – 1870/1880) and Tomsey Jarrel,(1778 – […]

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I don’t know where to begin.

Elizabeth Johnson, Arlington, VA. There are so many things I wish I could say but am worried they will come out the wrong way. I want to say I see you’re struggling. I want to say I see racism among my friends and within my own family. I want to say it’s wrong. I want […]

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He can’t swim, Dad saves him.

Jim Michonski, Virginia Beach, VA. I grew up in a military family. The March on Washington happened when I was two years old. We mostly lived outside of the US until I was nine. I don’t have memories of and was not exposed to the racial turmoil of the 1960’s. One of the strongest experiences […]

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Mugged…Most assume black mugger…wrong

Lynne Moffitt, Virginia Beach, VA. When I was living in Louisville, I came home from work and was mugged when I got out of my car. I had looked around before I got out and this nice young man was walking down the sidewalk. He looked like a typical University of Louisville student which was […]

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Stronger TOGETHER than we are apart

Britt Mikelle, Centreville, VA. People always ask me where I come from. I tell them, “from love.” Only love or lust would have created me. I am a mutt in every since of the word. Growing up in a multiracial home, I did not know racism untill I was old enough to date. My family […]

Mother gave me a different world.

Mary Horton Richmond, VA I didn’t realize until shortly before her death how different the world my mother gave me was from the one she was raised in. My mother had Alzheimer’s, and in the last few years of her life, she reverted to some of the attitudes and behaviors she had learned while growing […]

Accept the reality; own YOUR story

Juan-Day Charlottesville, VA I chose these words because there’s nothing left to say. I’ve grown tired of the same dance around this issue. Race matters because history matters. History hasn’t been kind to brown skin. Educate yourself and your loved ones. If WE don’t appreciate our brown-ness it’s laughable to expect others to.

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Andes shadows follow me, no Quechua.

Carmen Mendoza Tintaya, Arlington, VA. My parents are from a remote village in Arequipa Peru, where only until 2006 accessible roads were built. Now with both my parents gone, I find myself looking for my identity and looking towards that little village. I haven’t made the trip yet. I moved to the US when I […]

I am WHITE. I’m NOT RACIST.

Heather Simms, Suffolk, VA. Something that has bothered me throughout the years is the immediate perception because I am a middle class white individual that I automatically have some sort of racism integrated into my DNA. I respect and love everyone regardless of color, ethnicity or appearance. Racism is a concern in our society but […]

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My ancestor’s slave’s ancestor contacted me

Richard Reed Watts, Burke, VA. As a boy, me and my brother would disappear upstairs at our grandparent’s house, exploring for hours everything we could get our hands on. It was dark and smelled old and dusty and it was wonderfully beautiful. I remember distinctly coming across the old fragile parchment that was a list […]

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Race is a Matter of Mind

John Stephens, New Market, VA. Many years ago, when I was a young man, I went to see the movie The Defiant Ones with Tony Curtis and Sidney Poitier. The film was about two convicts who were both strident racists. They escaped from prison but they could not escape each other because they were shackled […]

I’m a white male; I’m unwanted.

Anonymous, Purcellville, VA. Living in a world where quotas of minorities must be accepted into major institutions, being a white male becomes a disadvantage. If I am paired against a minority of same academic and extracurricular achievements as me, I will most likely be brushed aside. I believe the only true way to make things […]

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I’m “white” does’t mean I’m racist.

Jordan Gray, Newport News, VA. For much of my adolescence, I have been deeply involved in an extremely conservative church, as well as portraying a confederate chaplain in a civil war reenacting company. Through my journeys in both areas, I have been called many things, but the most troubling of those terms afforded to me […]

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I fully accept and understand privilege.

Emily Glemzu, Chesapeake, VA. As a white person I totally understand that I was born with certain privileges that others lack. It is my responsibility to share and use this power for the greater good, to influence others to disengage from prejudice thoughts and activities.

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Meet My WHITE AFRICAN AMERICAN Son

Janice Davidsson, Norfolk, VA. You can’t help who you fall in love with and this American girl fell in love with an African boy. So that makes our son African American. Here’s the catch that a lot of people have an issue with… He’s white. He has blonde hair and blue green eyes and is […]

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I have failed my biracial daughter.

Michele Malmstrom, Charlottesville, VA. My daughter has always had very low self-esteem. I tried her entire life to address the problem by complimenting her and giving her the tools for building her confidence: cello lesson, in which she excelled, girl scouts where she achieved the silver award, college educated with a B.A. and at 24 […]

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Wow, I can’t believe you’re black!

Kelsi Evans, Williamsburg, VA. Growing up in society I have always been questioned about my race. I come from two very, very light-skinned African-American parents, so therefore I am very light, have soft curly “white people” hair, and don’t necessarily “talk black”. Being this kind of person draws attention to myself because people always make […]

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Being Mixed Doesn’t Define Cultural Identity

Morgan Engelhardt, Norfolk, VA. A lot of times I get shut down for calling myself Pacific Islander or Asian because I look white. The truth is, I’ve always preferred to identify myself with my Filipino ancestors rather than my white ones. It feels like home to me.

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What does “talking white” sound like

Meka Burnett-Gross, Virginia Beach, VA. Speaking correct English was a “must” growing up in my house but living in the south, I was often confronted by all races with “you don’t talk like other blacks, you sound white”. Speaking correct English obviously correlates to me trying to act like a different race too. Since when […]

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I’m not a color, I’m me.

Kirstyn Paige Andrew, Courtland, VA. No one should be judged, in any way, shape, and or form just because of the color of their skin. Everyone is unique in their own way and can never be replaced. God created us all for who we are and what we are for the better, our outside is […]

Why are my black students failing?

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.

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I’ve never really been black enough.

Taylor Butts, Chesapeake, VA. I’m Black. Completely. I’ve tried to trace my ancestry but couldn’t get very far. I’m very light skinned and “talk white” aka speak proper english so I don’t always fit in with my fellow African Americans but my hair never matched the white girls. Needless to say, I had a hard […]

Good Lord, that girl is white!

Kristen, Virginia Beach, VA. I have ALWAYS been pale. Like so pale its embarrassing to wear shorts (especially in the beginning of the summer). If ever I get a tan, its gone in like 2 weeks. Yeah, I don’t think it will ever be “cool” to be this white.

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My race isn’t who I am

Jackson R Barnes, Ferrum, VA. My race/ ethnicity hasn’t effected me in the slightest. I have not been discriminated against or any other of these ill circumstances that I hear others go through. Perhaps I am sheltered or maybe I am blind, but in a case such as this maybe it is better to be […]

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Out of Appalachia, into the world

Katie Pickard Fawcett, McLean, VA. Grew up in Eastern Kentucky in a county that is in the bottom 5% economically in the country. I have done social work in Appalachia, tutored students for SAT prep in VA, worked at the World Bank for 10 years, and am the author of To Come and Go Like […]

I am scared to drive alone

Ariel Foreman, Raleigh, NC. I just moved to North Carolina from Virginia. I’m scared to travel on highway 14 between Home and Raleigh especially at night…because it’s heavily monitored by police. I should not be scared of a group that’s suppose to protect me.

I’ve been the ONLY Black kid..

Kelly B. Ferrell Sterling, VA As the child of nomadic parents, we lived where we could and/or where my parents found work. At one point in the mid “70s, we lived in up-state NY, outside of Ithaca. We were the only black family in the area (in the county the way I remember it) and […]

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iSpy with my pretty brown eyes…

Michele, Leesburg, VA. This was one of the nicer things said to my daughter at her church-ran private school, where she was the only white kid in her class. The girls would actually tell her that they couldn’t play with her because of her skin color. She asked, with tears in her eyes, why she […]

Drugs are placed in black neighborhoods

Habibah Amattullah, Richmond, VA. The generalization is made that mostly young black men in poor neighborhoods are making money selling drugs. My question is does one really believe for one minute with this being the capitalistic society that it is, there is not someone wealthy supplying the goods, and reaping the benefits. Since when does […]

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You sound like a white girl

Joy Owopetu, Manassas Park, VA. What does this even MEAN? I have heard so many times that I sound like a white girl from the valley. It has caused me to experience unfriendly behavior from coworkers who thought I wasn’t “black enough” and I have gotten outright laughed at in public by ignorant individuals who […]

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Two Arms, Two Legs, One Head.

Latoya Baerlocher-Turner, Newport News, VA. It’s fun watching people attempt to imagine my face from my name. My first name is notably of African American origin, but my last name tells a different story, so people don’t know what to expect. And it’s always the same vice versa when people who’ve met me, learn my […]

My culture isn’t a fashion statement.

Meghan Morris Virginia Beach, VA I am Native American (Cherokee Nation), and it is frustrating to see people appropriating ceremonial or traditional Native American accessories as fashion statements without knowing the historical background that they have. With that being said, it shows a lack of respect towards my race. It can be seen as harmless […]

When did “enunciating” mean “sounding white?”

Skye Carr, Virginia Beach, VA. Throughout middle school and high school, people used to always call me an “Oreo” because I was one of the few black students in my class that spoke properly and enunciated my words. I’m curious when enunciating became something that only white people did.

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Busing: white girl, black schools, lonely

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 […]

I’m not trying to be anything else

Alex Mayes, Suffolk, VA. I grew up in a multicultural family. I am hispanic but mixed with black, white, and native american. I typically don’t talk about what I am. Many people assume that because I talk a certain way or act a certain way, that I am trying to be anything besides black. I […]

White skinned but not white brained

Karen Charlotte, Montpelier, VA. I’m a native Mid-Westerner who has lived in the South about 90% of my life. I try my best to learn about people as individuals not stereotypes and rid myself of any remaining prejudices lurking in my psyche. I hate it when I find myself in a room with only white […]

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You’re too white to be black

Alyssa Swearingen, Norfolk, VA. I come from parents who are different races. I have a mother who is white, and a father who is black. All my life, I get told “You don’t look black,” or I get asked if “I’m sure I am HALF black.” I’ve been told numerous times that I look like […]

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No, but where are FROM from?

Tina, Birmingham. AL. Nevermind the fact that I speak with a southern accent, that my attire is noticeably of American influence, or that my last name is German. When someone asks where I’m from and I give them the name of my hometown, this answer is somehow unacceptable, so I give them the name of […]

Try To See Through (My) Asian Eyes

Juliette A Clancy, Culpeper, VA. Since I am half Asian and my eyes are the only Asian thing about me, people think that I’m automatically straight off a boat from China. I AM 50% SOUTH KOREAN AND 50% IRISH. Get to know me before judging me for what I look like.

Black good samaritans, or would-be robbers?

Samuel C. Johnson, Keezletown, VA. I am a white man now 67 years of age. In May, 1968 (a month after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.) I had just completed basic training in the Army in North Carolina, and was on my way to my home area near Philadelphia. I got off […]

Check One Box Only-White? Asian?

Elizabeth Soda Cupertino, VA Being from a mixed racial background brings a whole other set of issues. Your not White enough to be White and not Asian enough to be Asian. All the racial surveys out there that force me to pick one of my “halves” over another just highlight how much further we have […]

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Can’t fit me in a box!

Myriah, Arlington, VA. All my life I’ve gotten the “what are you?” question. It seems to be human nature to try and categorize people in order to identify them better somehow. Being French Creole and Sicilian, I have always loved being racially ambiguous, because my identity goes way beyond man made categories. I am physically […]

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I’m proud to be a Bahamian!

Willis Mackey Jr., Christchurch, VA. I think that race is not a colour, but an ethnicity. I am so tired of being placed into the stereotypes of an African American. I am skin colour is black, I am a Bahamian. Born and raised in the Bahamas I should not have to be classified because of […]

Fifty shades of brown in a white world

Karen Sulmonetti Falls Church, VA My son was born in Guatemala and is very brown with beautiful dark brown, circle eyes and dark brown hair. As an adopted child, he has grown up with white parents and enjoys life in America. Even though we educate him on his birth country, he is all-American because of […]

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Being biracial and adopted is complicated

Lauren Juanita Hines, Alexandria, VA. I am the American melting pot personified: born to a Mexican father and Caucasian (white, mostly Irish) mother, raised by a Lebanese mother and a German-Irish father. I remember weddings as a child where we all danced the Middle Easter dabke. Cousins on the other side of the family won […]