You Can’t be of Mexican Descent!

Damian Solorzano, Sacramento, CA. Don’t let my skin tone, size and acculturation fool you. Like the Author of the above piece, I check “Hispanic” on the appropriate boxes. Mom was born in Dinamita, Durango, Mexico, Dad in Earlimart, California. Grandparents? Well, my Maternal Grandmother was born in Corcoran, California, Paternal Grandmother in Brownsville, Texas. Grandfathers […]


Not who you think I am

Ana Canino-Fluit, Penfield, NY. I am Puerto Rican, I lived in Puerto Rico till I left for college at 17. Till I was 16 I had never given much thought to racial identity. My senior year in high school I was selected to be a exchange student to our sister school in southwestern New York […]


Being Asian, my Authenticity is Questioned

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 […]

You’re not from these parts, huh?

Steven N. Pembroke Pines, FL I am Hispanic, born and raised in New York. I served in the Marine Corps from 1988 to 1992 and was stationed in Jacksonville, NC. I was on my way to Fayetteville to visit some friends and got lost on the way. I stopped at some convenience store to ask […]


Don’t think of you as Asian…

Dan Ellerman, Baltimore, MD. I was adopted from S. Korea at the age of 3 by a German/Irish couple. I grew up in a white household and neighborhood and went to predominantly African American schools in Baltimore city. The words I chose were told to me by my family and friends with the best intentions […]

Wait, But You Don’t Look Mexican

Chloe Servin, Miami, FL. I’ve gotten that phrase countless times. Pupils, teachers, when I meet new people. I currently am pale with slight color, but when I was younger I’d go outside every day and I was active, so I had a much darker color, plus I’d also go to the pool almost daily. One […]

I didn’t know Mary was black.

Carolyn Kay Conover, Harrodsburg, KY. It was 1964 and Mary and I had been friends since starting 1st grade together. We’d buy milkshakes at lunch. I’d buy chocolate and she’d buy vanilla. I really liked Mary. This year, Mary and I were going to go to 4-H camp together. We were so excited. We signed […]


“But you’re not ‘really’ black, right?”

Danielle Petterson, Tampa, FL. I have light brown skin and I consider myself to be mixed. Most people have a simple-minded belief that “mixed” means that one parent is black while the other is white. To me, it runs so much deeper than that. I have 4 grandparents from 4 different countries: Puerto Rico, Curaçao, […]


“Where’re you from?” Up to you.

Ami Bogin, England. I get “where are you from?” so often (or the polite “Your accent’s different…” of the British, or the more rude “You Chinese? Japanese?” sometimes from everywhere) in my life and thirty years in I still don’t know how to provide an answer, or at least an answer that will satisfy the […]


You don’t look Mexican Native American!

Delaney Rodarte, Prescott, AZ. When I was much younger I was darker skinned and people saw me as Mexican, but now in my later years, especially since I have gone to public school, people see what is now pale skin and refuse to accept me or admit that I am native american and men won’t […]


You’re Dominican? But you’re Black, really.

Juleyka, Oxford, CT. This phrase is often said to me by African Americans and other (usually darker) people from the Caribbean who insist that though I am Dominican/Latina, I am Black in the United States because of its racial history and current xenophobic climate. It’s nullifying in so many respects, and usually leads me to […]


Nothing in common. Everything in common.

Alana Peck Marina, CA People who don’t know me well tell me I look nothing like my sister. If race wasn’t such an overpowering factor, I’m not sure I would hear that as often. It’s hard to have everything and nothing in common with a person I’ve known for almost my entire life.


You do not look INSERT RACE

Jamie M. Young, Seattle, WA. Collected from The Race Card Project, On Location: Seattle Community Colleges I was born in Subic Bay, Philippines at the former U.S. Naval Base. My father is from Minnesota (of Norwegian/Irish decent), and my mother is from Minuhang, Leyte, Philippines. I am mixed race, but I have fair skin and […]


No, I am not the nanny.

Liliane Dizon, Tampa, FL. Each time I have been pregnant, people (mostly white women) have said the rudest things to me. Most recently, as my daughters were standing next to me, a woman said “You must be excited to finally have one of your own!” I asked her to clarify what she meant. She pointed […]


Wait… how is he your brother?

Brenna, France. When my brother was born, my mom told my sister and I that she hated the word “half.” She didn’t believe that the tiny little baby boy who looked like an Eskimo was half anything– he deserved our full love no matter what our relationship was. She didn’t like the idea of half […]


“But you have blue eyes!” So?

Stephanie Diane Scott-Melnyk, Washington, DC. My father is a light-skinned black man. My mother is an extremely fair white woman. For at least the 40 years I can remember, I have felt required to fight for the recognition of my black heritage. My race card is a statement made to me at least once a […]


You must be Cuban or something.

Jesse Hernandez-Oliver, Modesto, CA. I’m Mexican, African and Native American (Apache and Cherokee soecifically) with ringlet curled hair that resembles finger waves of the 1920s when brushed. Growing up I remember everyone always asking to touch my hair. I can speak some Spanish too so that also through people off,which I always found to be […]


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 […]

Neighbor says, “She doesn’t look black.”

Nicole Smeltekop, East Lansing, MI. At Michele Norris’s talk in East Lansing last night, a woman said this to me as Ms. Norris came on stage. The prevailing assumption that as a white person, white people can comfortably make racial comments they most likely wouldn’t say to anyone other than another “obviously” white person is […]


You don’t really look that black.

Linda D. Calvin, Westfield, IN. I am one of five siblings, but I am the only one who is black. My brothers and sisters, cousins, nieces, nephews, great nieces, uncles and aunts are white. After three children and a divorce, my mother met and married a black man in the 60s and had me. I […]


Asian descendent so is it wrong??

Ian Shi C Malaysia I’m Malaysian and some people classify me as other other races. It’s just silly. Just because I don’t look or act like a Malay or Chinese. There’s even a race column on my ID. It’s stated ‘Chinese’. Anybody had something like this? Plus I don’t get it why people are still […]

You don’t look Latina, prove it.

Victoria Oliva Medford, MA As a light-skinned Latina born to a Guatemalan immigrant father and a mother of French-Canadian descent, I find myself searching for where I fit in – constantly being asked by others to prove that I am Latina, and trying to come to terms with the discomfort I feel surrounding my white […]

I know I don’t look it.

Jade Primicias Bowling Green, KY Would you ever tell a half-black person that they’re not black? My dad’s from the Philippines, my mom’s from New York. I’m from a world where race and ethnicity aren’t colors or locations, or even the cultures in which someone was raised; they’re how a person feels. They are the […]

Yes. They are BOTH my parents.

Michelle Nickol Tucson, AZ Now that both my parents have passed away, I wish I had a camera to record the reactions on people’s faces when I’d introduce my Mother, Caucasian, and my Step-Father, African American. You could see the genetic race meters whirring in their minds trying to imagine how much of what went […]

Yes, she’s *really* my daughter!

Barbara Schmidt Metuchen, NJ We are a caucasian couple that adopted our daughter from Southeast Asia. Random people in the supermarket make dumb comments and children have asked where is her real mom. We must carry her adoption paperwork when we travel internationally, since passport control sometimes questions whether she is really our daughter. School […]

Kindergarten Registration: White? Asian? Choices? Eskimo!

Heinrich Beck Melville, NY I am white. Both my parents are from Germany. I have reddish blonde hair and a red beard. My wife is Okinawan (from Japan). I went to register my older daughter for kindergarten, and they use “Power School” as an intake form. My daughter looks much more like my wife, but […]

You’re named Carlos, but you’re blond?

Leah Gillett Boulder, CO My mother is Mexican-American, my father is Irish-American. My brother and I are blond haired and blue eyed. People frequently react to his name, Carlos. They are surprised that suburban kids from Michigan have Mexican heritage… It doesn’t bother me, but it can be tiring to cover our ethnic background immediately […]

You’re White, You Can’t Be Hispanic

Erica Shofner Eugene, OR Explore Identity Being mixed race is a blessing and a curse. I don’t have to deal with the unfortunate social stigma that comes with being Hispanic in America because of my light complexion, but I’m deprived of acceptance by the Hispanic community for the same reason. I thirst to experience that […]

Too white to be Asian, too Asian to be white.

Sara Higgins Eugene, OR Explore Identity “I’m not interested in living in a world where my race is not a part of who I am. I am interested in living in a world were our races, no matter what they are, don’t define our trajectory in life.” – Kerry Washington (Behind the Scenes of Scandal […]

My name and skin don’t match.

Jennifer Lopez Salt Lake City, UT Don’t match your assumptions, that is. It certainly doesn’t help to have the same name as a famous Latina, either. I’m a pale freckled gal from the south, and for a while, south Texas, which was interesting. My dad is from Cuba and my mom is from East Texas. […]

Yes, I am her biological mother.

Mira Tanna Orlando, FL My father is from India, my mother from the Netherlands, and I am married to a man from Nigeria. I look white to most people, and my children look black to most people. When I pick my kids up from school or camp, I get curious stares and kids ask me […]

My Daughter, I’m not her nanny

C. Fleming New York, NY I am Jamaican-American (black) and my Fiance is white. Somehow even in a place as mixed as NY people generally assume that I am the nanny since my daughter turned out to be very fair-skinned. I think the thing that saddened me the most is seeing the way that many […]

You don’t look like a Mexican.

Edmundo de la Garza Seattle, WA I was born in Chicago to fair skinned parents, one with green eyes and the other with hazel eyes. Mexico, especially in the larger urban areas, is quite cosmopolitan; although it was controled by several European empires, peoples from many countries emmigrated to Mexico for economic opportunities, and these […]

Not what you think I am.

Briana Ciccarino Baltimore, MD “Are you Latina/Hispanic?” this is the question I often get when meeting new people. I appreciate the compliment and wish I was Latina, but I’m white. How can a white girl look Latina? Not sure. Like so many others, I am a mix of many heritages: I am Italian, Polish, German, […]

Your children really look like Americans

Renu Gehring Portland, OR I am an ethnically Indian woman married to a white man. Our two kids are a happy blend of brown and white. We live in a community that has a large number of recent Indian immigrants. I am surprised by their reaction when they see me with my children. When they […]

Yes, he is my biological son.

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 […]

Is this what racism feels like?

Christine Boston, MA I was shopping with a dear friend and her two children. She needed to use the restroom so I gladly took her precious chubby baby in my arms while I waited with the other boy in his stroller. It could not have been 5 minutes before some nasty woman came up to […]

Can’t forget; brownness makes me different.

Ananya Kepper Santa Monica, CA I walk around feeling like myself, not like an Indian woman in a sea of white people. It still catches me off guard when people ask “Where are you from?” “Santa Monica,” I reply, every time. “I was born in St. John’s Hospital on Santa Monica Blvd.” I make them […]

You don’t look like you’re Chinese

Jacqueline Larriva Tucson, AZ I call myself Mexinese. My mother is Chinese and my father is Mexican. I am often asked questions about my racial background because people can’t figure out “what I am”. After finding out “what I am” and which parent is Chinese and which is Mexican, they often ask many personal questions […]


I ate pasta, family ate rice.

Melanie Vanderlipe Ramil, Sacramento, CA. Growing up, I wanted to be as “non-Filipino” as possible and felt great achievement whenever a friend said to me, “You seem so white!” During my middle school years, I claimed to not like rice (the staple for every night’s family dinner). My mom, after rushing home from work to […]

You don’t look like a Latina

Marie-Elena Reyes Portland, OR I have been speechless when told this (often by white women). The first time, I was angry and hurt to hear my life and racialized experience in America wiped away by someone trying to make me feel accepted. The most recent time this happened I knew what I wanted to say […]

Oh wow, you don’t LOOK Jewish.

Anonymous, Austin, TX I’ve always found it troubling to see the look on people’s faces when they find out I’m Jewish, as if I had been hiding some terrible secret from them. For my own amusement, I then let them know I am a white South African.

“You don’t look Iranian!” “I am.”

Rom Barkhordar Chicago, IL This was a brief exchange with someone I just met who, to his defense, had a few beers and was feeling rather boisterous. I explained to him that I am an actor in Chicago, doing a theatrical production where I play a middle-eastern character. He is also an actor, but found […]

I don’t belong anywhere but here.

Elena Zamarripa-Gray CA, USA Where are you from? Everywhere and nowhere. My Mexican, basque, Japanese father and Scottish, Canadian mother made me tall, beautiful, and brown. Put me in any ethnic outfit and I fit in, put me on any city street and I blend in. In my tiny California town I was raised with […]

Bi-Racial: I’m not “Mexican” enough?

Monica Santa Monica, CA I grew up in Texas in a small town where the population is roughly half Mexican and half white (German, Polish, Irish, etc.). I myself am half Mexican and half Irish. Funny enough, a lot of my friends are also bi-racial. When I moved away from Texas, I was shocked by […]

Really? Because you don’t look Cuban.

Carina Tillan Hallandale, FL My rebuttal to that is usually “Then what am I supposed to look like?” You’d be surprised how often people realize they don’t have (or don’t want to give) an answer to that. And heaven forbid they learn I speak Spanish, almost as if it’s a greater accomplishment for me because […]