Just another do-good white woman.

Margaret Davenport, Vienna, VA. This was said to me by a black male student in a high school program for disadvantaged but very bright, high potential students where I was academic adviser and counselor. It was said with a combination of dismay that there were few men or blacks working in this kind of program, […]

The black kids made fun of me

Bryant, Chandler, AZ. I was raised in a family that didn’t think about race. I didn’t connect that I was white and others were black. My family just didn’t think that way, I wasn’t raised to think about the color of someones skin. Only the merit of their actions. The shock that would stay with […]

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, […]

“Is that mud on your face?”

Anna Shaw, Deltaville, VA. This is the question that my brother and I were asked by native children in the Bahamas. Each member of my family has freckles and these are not the cute sprinkle over the nose—these freckles, especially during the summer, become large dots that cover our entire bodies. At the time I […]

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“George Washington was white, you’re black.”

Aaron David Snipe, Falls Church, VA. It was one day before the 4th of July parade at the summer camp I had attended each summer of my childhood, and the campers and counselors had all congregated outside to discuss our cabin’s float for the parade. Summers at the camp in rural Pennsylvania were filled with […]

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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.

Black culture is alien to whites

Jane Levin, Charlottesville, VA. There’s a fantastic scene in the film, An American Werewolf in London, where the American backpackers go into a pub called the Slaughtered Lamb. They are so uncomfortable because they are so out of place and completely clueless about the local culture. To say they feel conspicuous and uncomfortable is an […]

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Smart black kid plays tennis alone.

Raheem Cash, Alexandria, VA. As a kid I spent a lot of time being one of two or three black kids in honors classes. Spent a lot of time being only black kid that played tennis. Spent a lot of time not being considered “black enough”. Well I’m not a kid anymore and fortunately I […]

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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, […]

Don’t say “that is so black”

Ayla A. Wilk, Blacksburg, VA. I grew up in a small town in the south side of Virginia. Our town was built on a foundation of tobacco plantations and textile factories. We had only one high school. The population breakdown was nearly 50/50 African American to White – other ethnic groups were negligible. The blessing […]

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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 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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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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Why is the pool filled up?

Alonzo Peeke, Morris, MN. When I was in 4th grade we moved from Overland Park, KS to Lynchburg, VA. My dad and I would shoot hoops and talk walks at Riverside Park, a beautiful forested park right off the James river. We were walking home and we came across a strange structure like ruined monument, […]

When’s the next bus for Lobeco?

Joe Fournelle, Stuarts Draft, VA. Spring 1969. I was a 20-year-old Marine at the Greyhound bus station in Beaufort, SC waiting for transportation to Cherry Point, NC via commercial bus. An “old” (older than me anyway) black man approached me and asked me to find out when the next bus bus for Lobeco was. I […]

We plan life so we’re safe.

Jamie Haines, Franklin, VA. As an inter-racial lesbian couple in Virginia, we have to plan carefully. Will that small diner be safe? Can we vacation safely in that city, country? Can we hold hands? Will we have to take Mr. Confederate Flag stalker back to court? Every single time one of us walks out the […]

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Coding as white isn’t the same.

Kristina Ogilvie, Arlington, VA. It just struck me, I guess: on paper (i.e. a resume) I am for all intents and purposes a white girl. My name couldn’t be less ethnic, and I’ve had the privilege of getting an amazing education and having experiences that my father (Afro-Panamanian) could only have dreamed of. But I […]

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I live in two confliting worlds

Hisham Jabim, Reston, VA. I am a Muslim borne and raised in Palestine. I am married to an American woman name Rebekah and we have a three year old daughter Hanna. My wife and I lived in the middle east together for almost 10 years and now we moved to Northern VA. Bekah is a […]

Tiring of race issues shows privilege.

Queenie, Virginia Beach, VA. I am an African American mother of a 23 year old son. We have seen lots of race issues on the news, on television shows, and on social media in the last year. The response that I see many white people say is that they are tired of hearing about these […]

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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Lincoln Memorial with Ace. I understand.

Jonny Cecka, Richmond, VA. I have always had progressive attitudes about equality and so-called “race,” but visiting the Lincoln Memorial with my adopted 13-year-old son, Ace, was profoundly moving and made me understand the sacrifices of Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Jr., and countless others in a deep, personal way.

White Girl In A Mixed Family

Melissa, Oakton, VA. I am a white girl girl who has married a Thai man. My Thai man was adopted as a baby by a black family. It has been a a great an amazing cultural learning journey!

I have been around the world

Mike Snow Spotsylvania, VA I have listened to the Race Card Project for some time on my NPR station and it has encouragd my own thoughts on the subject. I admitted to my self many years ago that I had thoughts and views that one could deem as “racist”. This smacked me in the face […]

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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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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 […]

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 […]

You’re scared, so I’ll act different

Anonymous, Mechanicsburg, VA. It is hard not to be myself to please someone else who does not really care about me at all. I hate having to be someone different when I am in public so I do not scare anyone else. It would be different if I was ignorant and loud in public, but […]

They are Canadian and won’t tip.

Robyn, Norfolk, VA. Real Canadians do not tip in Canada because their wait staff is paid an adequate salary. However, black people, in the restaurant world, have been given the nickname Canadians because they normally do not tip. I feel like this is so wrong to stereotype people and give them unacceptable service just because […]

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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 […]

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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 […]

My blackness should NOT equal fear.

Attalah Shabazz, Richmond, VA. Wipe the slate clean, don’t generalize, there is more to me than my skin color. I am more than what society teaches you about me. Give me a chance, give us all a chance. Throw away all of you presumptions.

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Being Black and southern, educated engineer

Kristen Ellerbe, Richmond, VA. Calling me an Oreo or not really black, or basically a white girl means that you define some part of my personality, attitude, preferences, or demeanor as being owned and attributed solely to white people. Is it my intelligence, my sense of style, or how I speak? Is it because I’m […]

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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 […]

Colorblindness means you can’t see me.

Ashley Diaz Mejias, Richmond, VA. I write this as 34 year seminarian and old mom of two girls; my husband is haitian and puerto rican, and I am cuban and white. I am part of a church that, over the past year, has walked through race dialogues in an effort to begin bearing witness to […]

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I’m More than, Less than Accepted

Nicole Reynolds, Virginia Beach, VA. Race often goes hand and hand with self worth. Who am I in the world? What does that answer mean? How does it affect my life? Is there anything I can do to change that? I have Ugandan Blood, Taino Blood, Spanish Blood, Past African American Slave blood. What race […]

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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 […]

My daughter isn’t a “China Doll.”

Debra Cope, Alexandria, VA. Adoption is beautiful, and I really don’t mind helping others navigate the awkward preconceptions that accompany it. But this phrase just burns me because it equates my spunky, lively child with an object . She’s not my toy — she’s my daughter!

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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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I am not what you see

James Moore, Sterling, VA. No one told me when I adopted my baby girl that I was no longer white. I had to find out the hard way. One friend at a time. Sadly.

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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 […]

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.

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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 […]

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 – […]

Do I deserve a voice here?

Samantha Poelstra, Richmod, VA. I am half Czech, half German, very much white. I chose these words because I sometimes have a hard time adding to conversations about race because I have internalized guilt over the actions that others my color have committed. I sometimes feel ashamed.

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 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 […]

She is just some white girl

Brooke, Richmond, VA. Virginia Commonwealth University Racism goes all sorts of ways. My race shouldn’t define everything about me, and definitely shouldn’t generalize me as a person. My race shouldn’t decide how I get treated in public or how much I get paid. My race should not put me above or below anyone, and it […]

Don’t straighten your hair, baby girl.

McKinley Dixon, Richmond, VA. In the dominantly caucasian school that my sister used to attend, she would get picked on for her hair being curlier and fuller than the other girls in her school. It got to the point where she would straighten it every morning before we go to school. Damaging her hair, for […]

Your race is not an excuse.

Scott McLean, VA The world is full of millions of people trying their hardest just to get by. They do not have time to be racist. “Racism” is not a problem in the U.S. It is the most diverse country in the world. Go to Japan. Go to Iraq. Go to Scandinavia. Try to be […]

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My Ancestors NEVER owned any slaves.

Anthony Turoczy,   Manassas, VA.   My Great-grandparents came to America in 1904 from Hungary. They worked in the mines during the day and went to school at night to learn how to speak, read and write English. Don’t blame others for your bad choices; work hard and make something of yourself.

You’re the whitest Hipanic I know.

Annie Woodbridgem VA In high school, a white male classmate once said this to me. I am a half-Korean, half-Dominican woman. I had no idea how to respond. The context I perceived was that he meant that I spoke very clear, unaccented English, ate American-typical food staples for lunch, got excellent grades, and was in […]

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Dress like trouble, seen as trouble

Mike Arlington, VA I’m tired of people dressing, acting, talking like trouble makers, gangsters or criminals then complaining of discrimination. You will become as those with whom you associate. Each individual has the choice how to dress, act and with whom to associate. If they want to be treated as the scum of society, they […]

Realizing how much they dislike us

Tara Newport News, VA Despite my personal cynicism and ongoing interest in matters of race, I am still surprised at the pervasiveness of anti-black sentiment following the election of President Obama and the Zimmerman verdict, among other things. Frustrations seem to be boiling over, and feelings that used to be secret are being quietly confessed […]

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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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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, […]

Charles, Betty, Moses, Rose, and Nice

Ted Hudson Centreville, VA Excerpt from my fourth-great-grandfather’s 1790 Sussex County, Delaware, will: It is my Will and I do order that the Negroes I now hold in bondage shall be free from me and my Heirs and at their liberty at the time hereafter mentioned to wit: Charles to be free & at his […]

My March On Washington Freedom Kiss

Isabel “Scottie” Dalsimer Alexandria, VA It was a bright and sunny day in August 1963. I was 25 years old and just back from a two year assignment in West Africa. My household effects were arriving at my Washington apartment that afternoon, but I had time to go to the March on Washington beforehand. I […]