I’m Middle Eastern but I’m white?

Ilana New York, NY I grew up in Israel to a father born in Germany and a mother born in the United States. Yet every time I tick the “white” box I feel uncomfortable. The culture I grew up in was considered “white” but the Middle East is ethnically diverse. Everyone was a “mixed breed” […]

I’m a bridge between two worlds.

Jazmin Whitmore, Asheville, NC. I am the result of two worlds but I was only raised in one. My father was Jamaican and my mother was European/Native American mix. My mother raised me. Although it was not her intention she raised me to be “white”. I did not realize how devoid I was of my […]

When did borders start defining ‘race’?

Sarah Naomi Burnett, Norristown, PA. Being a ‘white’ girl raised on the border of Mexico the ‘race-card’ issue was raised daily. I always felt that if I was a color, and they were a nationality, those two identifiers didn’t quantify either of us equally. I had a culture at home that was Irish/Italian but where […]

More than “just a Black girl”

Jolie Anne Chevalier, San Jose, CA. This is me at eight years old back in 1979, the daughter of an African-American/Seminole Indian mother, and a Irish-French-American father. Growing up, I was faced with contradictions in a world of opposites; although I was multiracial my mother told me I was Black, and to identify as such […]

Embrace who you are, love it

Eric D., Houston, TX. While my son was in elementary school, I asked what race dose he tells his schoolmates he was. He quickly responded, “White”. When I asked why, he said that his skin color wasn’t brown or black. As he grew older he learned about both his Spanish and African American heritage. Now […]

Black, Papua New Guinea, curious, adopted

Brittany Barnes Reno, NV I am adopted. I was born in Irian Jaya, Indonesia, now known as Western New Guinea. I don’t really tell people where I was born, because I don’t find it necessary in conversations and it never really comes up. People look at me and automatically assume that I am African-American and […]

No offense BUT, what are you?

Francesca Sam-Sin, Katy, TX. “No offense BUT, what are you?” That’s usually how the conversation about my race begins. When I arrived in the U.S. in the 80’s I was really surprised by the emphasis on race. The first time someone asked what “race” I was, it took me a minute to understand exactly what […]

Why I Choose To Use Other

Malcolm X. Mosely, Lorain, OH. I started using “Other long ago when they first started putting it on an option and I could start filling out forms when I started entering college in the early 90’s and there after. The reason I have done this is because I am not only Black and White, I […]

“Generic Brown” is my passport everywhere.

Gil L. Pettigrew, MS, The Federated States of Micronesia. I have a very strong, very proud cultural heritage; I’m a North American Mestizo, 50% Native American (Creek and Cherokee; my tribal enrollment/citizenship is with the Echota Band of the Eastern Cherokee Nation) & 50% a mashup of Scots-Latin-AfricanAmerican-Welsh-french. I self ID as Native American, because […]

You have to choose. Which one?

Aimee Mallery, Rochester, NY. My daughter is Native American on her father’s side. When faced with a form for daycare, I had to choose whether to label her Native American or Caucasian. They insisted she couldn’t be both.

Oceanic? I’ve NEVER heard of that.

Lee, Saipan, MP. Oceania is the proper geographical name of a defined region, as are North America, Europe, Asia, etc. People are Native American, European, Asian… I am, among other things, Oceanic or Oceanian; a person descended from ancestors from Oceania. Specifically, Micronesia. The term “pacific islander” as a racial category is an oddity that […]

The nun made me mark “white.”

Jackie Loya-Torres Kansas City, MO As a small child in the 1970s, I remember having to take some sort of standardized test in school. You know…the ones where you need a #2 pencil to fill in the ovals? On the cover page, in addition to listing my name, gender and age, I was asked to […]

Sorry, I Just Have to Ask

Dominic, Minneapolis, MN. As the saying goes, if I have a quarter for every time… In my case, if I had a quarter for every time an adult said to me, “I’m sorry, I just have to ask–your daughter–what is she?” I know what response each of these inquisitions intends. With quizzical eyes trained on […]

Soul Surfer is Light without color

NanJo Carter, Richmond, CA. I grew up in the fifties and sixties. We moved to Japan when I was 2. We moved to Montgomery, AL when I was six and I attended Capitol Heights Elementary School. These were intense times with the National Guard escorting us to class and the school. We experienced discrimination and […]

Yes, I was born in Detroit.

Amanda Nelski, Los Angeles, CA. People like to put other people in boxes. “Where are you really from?” they ask. I used to answer Detroit. When they asked where my parents are from, Detroit was not suitable either. “You don’t look like you’re from Detroit.” After some banter I would eventually confess my lineage is […]

Invisible to the census but here

Grsteena Khoshaba, Warren, MI. I am a Middle Eastern girl and I just have one question. Where am I? Why is it whenever I have to fill out an official document that asks for my race, Middle Eastern is not an option? We are forced to bubble “White” when we’re not really white.

Mexican-American, But No Hablo Espanol

Vincent Yanez, Long Beach, CA. For as long as I remember my mother, and myself as I got older, was given a very hard time from people in our neighborhood and some family members about my little sister, little brother, and I not being able to speak Spanish. My mother and father both grew up […]

“So… I should just check ‘Other’?”

Hannah Killen, Lubbock, TX I’ve been called racially ambiguous more times than I can count. The thing is, just because I’m mixed doesn’t mean I don’t want a claim to my race. Just because I can pass as white doesn’t mean I want to pretend for the privileges. I love my culture and I take […]

My skin is not my culture.

Rachel Brinson, Centennial, CO. People always want to put me in a box and assume what I find offensive, what I find familiar, and how I choose to see myself and others. No one chooses to see human first, identity second. I will forever be explaining that the body given to me is arbitrary, and […]

I (don’t) fit. Don’t look closely.

Emery Boyle-Scott, Milwaukee, WI. I want to belong in a group, and it’s nice to belong until someone looks closely. My whiteness is always sidelined when people learn about my lesbian moms. Don’t look closely and I have all the privilege. But, then it disappears and I’m not allowed, I’m questioned on everything. There’s no […]

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 […]

Finally, a multi-racial option on applications.

James Duvall OUTSIDE USA For the longest time, I’ve always tried to put both my Latin side and my African American side towards the end of job applications. Sometimes they would make you choose one or the other. so when that happens I would alternate between Latino and Black. But now I can finally pick […]

I decide if I’m “black enough”.

Kelly Wickham, Springfield, IL. When I was born the white nurse told my mom that “mixed” wasn’t a category and she put “white” on my birth certificate, but my mother knew she’d be raising a child that the world would identify as black and she raised me as such.

Just call me a human being

Rocio Tapia, Forest Park, GA. Being from Mexico, I do not have any sense of race. I know what I am and do not identify with any of the categories listed when I am asked about my race or ethnicity, so I often leave it blank or choose “Other” if I am pressed to select […]

Latin America has light-skinned racists too.

Patricia Linderman, Mexico. I’m the spouse of a US diplomat, and we have lived in four Latin American countries for a total of 11 years. We have sometimes seen strong discrimination and heard ugly remarks against people in these societies with darker skin color. It is definitely not just a U.S. and European problem. Besides […]

Latino and Gay U.S.A.

Louis E. Perego Moreno, New York, NY. All my life, I have been out of more than one box. However, after wrestling with the subject for over 20 years, I have arrived at a point in my journey where my identity is defined by belonging to three worlds: Latino, Gay and USA. Many Hispanics in […]

Caucasian is/not White – really?

SM Boston, MA When I was 22, I received my first speeding ticket, which I deserved as I was speeding. It was a speed trap on a major US highway on the way back to Boston. I accepted the ticket without contest, but since it was my first speeding violation I choose to appear in […]

I pass, but I can understand.

Kira Henstenburg, Washington, DC. Mixed race Russian-Kazakh. Adopted. I’m not considered “asian enough” to be invited to anime conventions. I’m not comfortable taking a strong stance on race in class discussions because I’m considered white. I’m told I “look a lot like my father.” If I say I was born in Russia, people assume my […]

Being Sicilian explains who I am.

Annaleisle Gingher Peachtree City, GA Understanding my ethnicity has explained so much and helped me understand who I am. I may be classified in a box as “white” but I am a second generation Sicilian with dark skin and dark hair. I’ve always identified with other races. Only to understand we are all the same […]

You don’t look or sound Cuban.

Sergio R Velazquez, Lowell, MA. The label Latino bothers me, same as Hispanic. Both have colonial roots and do not properly represent any specific group or culture. This is why I always select OTHER and fill in Cuban. Just my five cents worth.

Checking OTHER is so liberating and fun

Maggie Martinez, WEST PALM BEACH, FL. When I get the chance to check “other ” on any form it makes me feel as if I am tearing down another little wall and letting the form creators know that I will not be put in a box. Race is fake and constructed to keep people of […]

Doctor asked, “What is your race?”

Leslie Lannan, Cincinnati, OH. It’s amazing how desperate we are in America to racially categorize our citizens based on how they look. My six words are a reference to a recent doctor’s visit. After discussing my ailments and general health, the doctor had one more question for me. “What is your race?” she asked. I […]

Stop trying to box me in

Zeren New York City, NY I’m a mixed ethnicity Palestinian-Arab, European, Afghan American…I naturally have light skin, eyes and hair as many Arabs, whites and Afghans do. But I grew up in China where I was a minority on more than one count, not just my skin color, but my ethnicity and my nationality kept […]

I’m caught in two different worlds.

Carissa Lew, CA. Being born in America but having my heritage from China leads me to believe I should choose one or the other. Many people question me about how “connected” I am to my heritage, but truth be told..I’m not very in tune with my Chinese culture. It’s difficult to discern who I really […]

Continually frustrated by America’s racial hangups

Whitney, Durham, NC. More 6-word offerings… – Life was less racial in Europe – Look black, more than half white – Ticked one box, denied one parent – Forced to deny half my heritage – Why should I pick just one? It’s not that race isn’t an issue in Europe, more that after nearly 8 […]

Are you Hispanic, or just Italian?

Rachel Masilamani, Pittsburgh, PA. I was eating lunch alone in the break room on my first day at an office job when 3 of my new co-workers peeked in. “Are you Hispanic, or just Italian?” one of them blurted out. Neither, actually. This lady just laid down her line for White and Not White and […]

The Asian/Pacific Islander category is very enticing.

Cheryl Mercado Arnedt, West Orange, NJ. My grandmother and her sister — red-headed daughters of NYC cops — both married full Filipino men and were disowned. There was no race in our family – just rice AND potatoes at every meal. My grandfather “Pupa” intentionally didn’t pass down his Asian-ness or his language Tagalog so […]

New option at doctors – Eastern European

Anonymous, Baltimore, MD. When people discuss race, they seem to refer to only people of color. I always check Caucasian on forms. At the doctors yesterday, there was a new option, Eastern European. It felt like a better fit for me. Just because my skin lacks pigment, doesn’t mean that I am the same as […]

All this, and still just white.

Anonymous, Memphis, TN. I feel like I have a wonderful heritage full of rich culture. Italian and Native American mostly, but when people look at me, that all goes away and I’m just white. Especially where I currently live, when my husband, who has his roll number, marks Native American, human resources directors say, “Same […]

I look white & I’m not racist.

Lynn, Great Falls, SC. I tend to look white; especially when not in the sun. I’m actually a mix of: European (German, Irish, & British), Native American (Seminole, Cherokee, & Muskogee Creek), Black (African -sub-sahara regions- and Melanesian), and Middle Eastern (Syrian, Turkish, Indian (India) & Iranian)…….Somehow I ended up looking more European instead……I hate […]

Why must I choose one race?

Cassandra Young, Norfolk, VA. Often times when filling out a survey or application we are asked to select our race. Many of the times the directions state to only choose one. I am biracial and one race does not define me.

I am sorry Miss, you’re Hispanic

Marta Silva-Serrano Lenexa, KS Sad statement by an immigration officer when I had to fill in my request for a Social Security Number in order to work as a doctoral student in a Kansas University. I am from Spain and I had never been asked about my race before.

Don’t check something you are not.

Raj Merchant Philadelphia, PA Hey my name is Raj Merchant. I am Indian so technically I am Asian. I am a high school student, and I go to a magnet school called Central High School of Philadelphia. My grandfather said this line when I was going over the thing that were on the PSAT. When […]

Who doesn’t have a little identity crisis?

Ben, Madison, WI. Every time I think about race, especially when I’m asked to indicate it, I feel three things: anxiety, resentment and shame. Anxiety: Even if I have the option not to indicate my race I feel a wave of anxiety. I have a “White name” and light skin, English was my first language, […]

Only check one: white non-hispanic

Catherine Chase Yaghi, Stockton, CA. I hate having to exclude a part of myself when checking ethnicity on a form. The options white (non-hispanic) always threw me. It almost always goes with “Check only one”. I’m both!! What do I check?

Mexican, ethnicity of my heart!

Kathy Smith-Wenning, Highlands, NJ. My boxes check white, Anglo-Saxon but the ethnicity of my heart is Mexican. That is for all the good, the beauty, and the kindness afforded to me by the Mexican people here in NJ and Oaxaca, Mexico.

Suburban white kids nicknamed me Chinaman

Aaron Yeh, Las Vegas, NV. White mother, Chinese father, I was raised by my mom and don’t speak Chinese. Sometimes I look in the mirror and my Asian features surprise me. It’s startling how I identify more with being ‘white’ than anything else. The “other” box on forms asking my ethnicity has always comforted me, […]

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 […]

Being bilingual is not a disadvantage.

Angie Cruz, Los Angeles, CA. As a person of brown skin color and Latin heritage, I am often spoken to in Spanish by strangers with the assumption that I only speak that language. It can often be demeaning when people assume that because I have a culture different than the “majority”, I am automatically categorized […]

Hispanic white woman discriminated by every race.

Bridget, Washington, DC. As a child growing up in the Texas Hill Country I was often told to go back to Mexico. I didn’t speak Spanish, and I’m half white. German, Irish, and Finnish to be exact. My dark, curly, frizzy hair and olive skin won me no favors. Years later I live in DC. […]

No, I’m not Hispanic. I’m Arab.

Ian M., Orange County, CA. My mom is an immigrant from the Middle East, my dad was born in Texas, yet my brother and I look as white as you can get. Every time I’ve filled out college apps for state or private schools, the US census, standardized tests like AP, SAT, and GRE, race […]

First generation immigrant; you’d never know.

Choua Yang, Green Bay, WI. I was one of the lucky to escape Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War conflict. It was 1980 and I was only a baby when I came to the United States. As I progressed through school, I was immersed in western culture everywhere but my home; and it frustrated me […]

I’m not adopted! I’m mixed-race.

Julie Taeko, San Francisco, CA. Writing a book called “Good Morning, Mixed-Race America!” to highlight the stories of 12 mixed-race individuals who are part-Asian, millenials and loving life! Checking All the Boxes & Embracing Our Own Unique Multi-Cultural Identity.

Red Cross “races” my blood. Why?

Mara Leveritt, Little Rock, AR. When I donate blood to the Red Cross someone looks at me and identifies me as “Caucasian” on their form. No person can identify “race” for another, but this has gone on for years, even though I decline to be racially classified. How many institutions, government and private, that are […]

White, Black, Latino, Asian, or Human?

Michael S., Elk Grove, CA. My mom divorced and remarried 3 times with 3 different men with totally different race and had a child from each marriage. Her first marriage was gentlemen from Jamaica, second was a man from Ecuador, and last was from Thai. My mom been immersed and learned every one of her […]

Delaware, Kiowa, Comanche, Mexican, Oh My!

Kristina T., Oklahoma City, OK. I’m half Native American and half Mexican. I have 3 tribes’ blood that runs through my veins along with Mexican blood. Most people consider and see me as one or the other. I speak and know my Mexican culture, but when it comes to my Native culture, I’m completely lost. […]

“White” papers over background identity.

Catherine Kehl, Cleveland Heights. OH. When we divide ourselves into “us” and “other” we don’t only lose the other, we lose ourselves. I was twenty-seven before I realized that my mother sometimes spoke to me in Spanish not because she’d picked some up in college before travelling in South America in her twenties, but because […]

Not Latino enough, Not American enough

Maria Lopez, Baltimore, MD. I remember one time I was really sick and was rushed to the ER, while registering the nurse told me “you have very good English,” which I responded as “probably because I was born here.” I may have been 13 or 14. In high school, one of the lunch ladies who […]

I’m a “who”, not a “what”.

Jerrel A. Burgo, Syracuse, NY. The Race Card Project On Location: Syracuse University My race/ethnicity is not easily identifiable for many people. No one’s race/ethnicity should be deemed “easily identifiable”. Humans do not fit into boxes that were constructed for us. We choose, on our own, how we identify. Many times, people will ask me, […]

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 […]

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 […]

So you must be Muslim? Arab?

Ahmed B. Middlebury, VT When your name is supposed to be an indicator of your ethnicity, religion, the language you speak, and everything else. And when you can’t change it, because you don’t have citizenship yet.

Will he choose Mexican or Caucasian?

Josh Smith, Sacramento, CA. My son is 3 years old, and the son of a white male with no real cultural identity (myself) and a Mexican woman (my wife Yadira) who is the first-born daughter of Mexican immigrants, with a large family that celebrates its culture and traditions often. I frequently wonder which ethnicity he’ll […]

Poor little middle class white girl

Nina Haug Richardson, TX While applying for college, I realized that I have no “hook” – the box, story, or line that might make me more than just another high-achieving middle class white girl applying to too many schools. And I had absolutely no right to complain about this – I grew up in a […]

Always check “White, Non-Hispanic origin” box

Jay Marie Fernandez, Bridgeport, CT. With white skin, being of Hispanic origin, in a household that did not speak Spanish, in a predominantly Spanish speaking neighborhood, this sentiment taught me being Hispanic or Latina was something to be hidden. The kids hated me because I thought I was better than them, proudly pri-claiming “I’m white”…now […]

I am Both, Not Just One.

Laura N. Weston, Baltimore, MD. About 80% of the time people assume (mostly men) I am Puerto Rican even though I am half Caucasian and half African American. I stress to everyone who thinks it is important enough to ask me what I am that I am Mixed or Biracial and I state with what. […]

I wish “white” wasn’t a race.

Eirann Betka, Grand Rapids, MI. I wish white wasn’t a race. Because where does that mean I come from? I am given five options of classifications to choose from. Five checkboxes. None of which correctly identify my origin, and of all of them, white seems vague and without a home. Where is white? How can […]

I cannot choose just one race

Jade Pritchett, Port St. Lucie, FL. Growing up, I never understood how I was supposed to chose a bubble, check a box, pick one race. I am multiracial, and proud of it. Teachers would tell me to choose the one that I “feel”. Does that mean that I can’t feel them all? When I grew […]

I’m American – where’s my checkbox?

Blair White Haddad, Los Angeles, CA. Being the child of an adopted mother, for a long time I only knew half of my genetic make up. After being reunited with my bio grandmother we discovered our Native American/ French background. My whole life I’ve been asked the question- what are you? Instead of identifying myself […]

I am not just African American.

Erica Watts, Arlington, TX. Growing up, I believed that I was all African American. My mother was African American and so was my brother and that is all I needed to know, to know that I was African American. However, as i got older, people began to question my ethnicity. Some claiming that I looked […]

I’m biracial. I can’t choose one.

Cortney Pouncey, Sacramento, CA. Being biracial, my hands have always been forced to choose what ethnicity I should identify as. In reality, I am just as black as I am white. How could I pick one and deny the other? I believe biracial people are the key to end racism.

Muslim, white. Neither here nor there.

Anonymous, Canada. I pass. You’d never guess. I’m spared alot of the cliched terrorist rhetoric. I don’t fear any of my family members will extra judiciary arrest or detainment. So I win right? Sure, but I feel like I’m cheating. It feels equally disingenous to be “just” a white girl as it dose to insert […]

Simple Shorthand for Dismissing an “Other”

Vince Darcangelo, Flort Collins, CO. “Sadly, I believe that underlying the race issue is a deeper human need (perhaps fear- or anxiety-driven) to label and discount those different from us. I don’t believe it’s as simple as skin color. Skin color is simply the signifier that facilitates easy division or grouping. If we were all […]

I don’t fit in your boxes.

Belva Brown Jordan, Claremont, CA. Often, people make assumptions when they see me, before actually meeting me or knowing anything about me. They think they know which “box” to put me in. Based on little information they assume to know who I am, where I come from, what I experienced as a child, my intellectual […]

I’m tired of being the “Other”!

Kevin Stordahl, Seattle, WA. Every time I fill out important documents they ask for my “race” and every single time they do I wonder a couple things; one, why do they need to know that? And two, where is my category? I have never considered myself one race or another. I have always just felt […]

I’m 50-50, they only see black.

Autumn Battani, Los Angeles, CA. People only identify me as black. And that doesn’t make sense to me. Even when I was little, and we would fill out forms for tests, I would ask my teacher what I was supposed to do. The papers always said you can only choose one, but I’m two. And […]

“White” papers over identity and background.

Catherine Kehl, Cleveland Heights, OH. When we divide ourselves into “us” and “other” we don’t only lose the other, we lose ourselves. I was twenty-seven before I realized that my mother sometimes spoke to me in Spanish not because she’d picked some up in college before travelling in South America in her twenties, but because […]

I’m not going to pick one.

Sierra Moore, Springfield, IL. The picture is one of me as a baby. Since my early childhood until now I’ve been encouraged by people close to me as well as acquaintances to identify myself as one race. I’ve also heard people guess what my ethnic background is (which no one has fully guessed correctly). They […]

Don’t worry honey, he’ll brown up.

Jen, Bowie, MD. My husband (African American) and I (Caucasian) took our son to his one month doctor appointment. The nurse asked us if he was Caucasian or non-white and wanted me to make a decision so she could check a box. When I asked for other options like a biracial or two or more […]

I try but stereotypes still linger

Anastasia Rogers, Detroit, MI. I am a firm believer that everyone, no matter if you’re a man, woman, or something in between, black, white, Asian, or a different race, should be treated equally and with respect. That being said, I often find myself making snap, harsh judgments about people that I’ve never even had a […]

What are you? I am Other.

Barbara Racca, Austin, TX. When I was younger, that question would immediately cause my shoulders to hunch and a look of hunted suspicion to cloud my features. Today my embracement of otherness is shadowed by so much more than a child’s rejection of being different– Am I rejecting aspects of my race by qualifying that […]

There is only one race—HUMAN.

Tamara Parisio Scottsdale, AZ Whenever asked for RACE, I tick “OTHER” and write in HUMAN. For certainly I have never seen a “WHITE” race (and I am not white—my skin is more creme brûlée and that is never listed). And certainly I have never seen a “BLACK” race (though I have seen many shades of […]

Identity isn’t housed in a box

Karen Than Myaing Silver Spring, MD In this photo: what do you get when you mix an Israeli, a Trinidadian, a Jamaican, a Caucasian, a Burmese and an African American? Our beautiful family. We are Jews, Muslim, Christian and Buddhist. We are female. We are male. We are children. We are human. We do not […]

Because I’m white, I feel ashamed.

Sadie Petersen Philadelphia, PA As a child, the streets of west Philadelphia were my playground. I loved going to school in the area and wouldn’t change a thing about how I was raised and how race was never even noted in my small family of four, which eventually grew to a family of 7. However, […]

But I think you look white??

Angelo Saxon Grand Rapids, MI People often mistake me for white because of my light skin. I identify, however, as an Arab, due to my Lebanese ancestry, of which I hold near and dear to my heart. The reclassification of Arabs as “white” by the government in the early 1900’s means that I have to […]

You’re not from here, are you?

Hanne Nielsen New Zealand Wherever I go, I’m always from elsewhere. Born in Canada, with Danish heritage, and living in New Zealand, every place assumes I’m ‘really’ from one of the others. What does ‘really’ mean? In New Zealand, everyone came from elsewhere at some point, usually from many elsewheres.

The whitest brown girl I know.

Catherine Marden El Cerrito, CA My mother is from El Salvador. My father is from Kentucky. I grew up in rural Oregon. I didn’t know I was half-hispanic until I realized checking the hispanic box on college applications might help me get accepted. To this day I struggle with my Salvadoran ancestry. I am white. […]

White’s a color, not a race.

Cecilia Irvine, CA I’m not white. I’m Irish American. Why do African Americans get a formal tittle on job applications, gov papers, tests, etc. but I only receive one option to check “white”

Which race box do I check?

Holly Thompson Grand Rapids, MI I am half Puerto-Rican and half Scottish, but definitely all people see is “white.” I am constantly struggling with pride of my Latina heritage, guilt of my inherent white privilege, and guilt of ignoring half of who I am. I hate documents that ask for your race. Do I put […]

We assume you don’t speak English

Sabrina Leira Denver, CO Sometimes when people are trying to do the right thing, they end up being wrong. For instance, every year at school, we have to check a box that says what our ethnicity/race is. I, being half Hispanic, sometimes check the Hispanic box. A few weeks later, I get called into the […]

I’m not Japanese-American. I’m just Japanese.

Katie Hana Kuyama Northridge, CA I’ve always thought it weird to add “American” to my identity when my ethnicity is indeed Japanese. I’m a second generation Japanese living in America, but people always emphasize that because I live in America, I MUST add “American” to my identity. Not necessarily. In paperwork or community involvement, I […]

I can be both, or neither.

Donovan Holder, Ft. Lauderdale, FL. In South Florida, I am a chameleon. Mother is white, Dad is Jamaican. But my skin is the exact same color as my Latino friends, my Indian friends, my light skinned Black friends, and my Muslim friends. I am all of them, yet none of them. This is why my […]

Everyone has a title but me.

Beth Lichter Cincinnati, OH Every form I ever fill out, I check ‘White’, because my ancestors moved her 3 generations ago from Holland and Germany. There is a category for everything under the sun – but me. I’m just white. And I’m OK with that. Maybe we focus so much on classification that we forget […]

White or Asian. Must I pick?

Alec Dughi Castro Valley, CA I am always asked if I am Asian. And the answer is yes, I am. I think the politically correct term would be Chinese American, but sure, I’m half Asian. But I’m also half white, and the two races are constantly fighting to rule my life. I don’t really fit […]

There isn’t a box for Other

Traci Butler USA I’m a Caucasian mother of a beautiful, amazing little girl who happens to be of mixed heritage, because her father is from Africa. I have a difficult time when it comes to school forms or paperwork for doctor’s offices, because they don’t give you a box for “mixed ethnicity” or a space […]

North Africans Are clearly not Caucasian!

Lamia Barrington Federal Way, WA Although we (North Africans) are considered Caucasian, I always choose African American or Black. How is that possible that we are white? We clearly are not and what gives the government the right to label us as such? I truly believe that we are the group that’s discriminated against the […]

I always created a new box to check

Ranya New York City, NY A teen during 9/11… The only now officially identified as “Arab,” teen in my entire school. Before I was looked at as if I was just like all the other kids– just hold the ham, bacon, and pork products at school and birthday parties. But I had friends with some […]

I said human, they said white.

Ida W. USA In elementary school when they asked ‘race’ on forms I filled out ‘Human” because I am a member of the human race! The teacher erased by answer and had me write ‘white’, I told her that ‘white was a color, not a person. She thought I could not have been more wrong.

The only Mexican in my family

Sarah Willis Portland, OR My dad is a half Mexican half German man who married a European mutt and had seven children. I am the only one of the seven that he marked the box on my birth certificate as Hispanic instead of white, making me the only mexican in my family.

Biracial girl always marked as “white”.

Alex Johnson Bentonville, AR My father is Caucasian, born and raised in Arkansas. My mother is Hispanic, born and raised in the Dominican Republic, despite her time living in both New York and Arkansas. I’ve seen myself as biracial since I found out my mother was from outside the states but, every time I fill […]

Check Race: “Other-American Melting Pot”

Roberta Wyse Torres Houston, TX When I completed my childrens’ forms to enter kindergarten, I was confronted for the first time with that droplist, “Check race: select one only:” Really? It went on to explain that if you did not select, then the school would select for you based on the teacher’s best guess, because […]

European American just doesn’t make sense.

Emma Croskrey Des Moines, IA Drake University During my senior year of high school we were filling out our College applications, and I remember I had this one friend that really wanted scholarships because she didn’t have a whole lot of money. Since her family moved over here from Germany she figured she could say […]

Plain ol’ white. No I’m not.

Quinn Woods Detroit, MI It’s always bugged me, that when it comes to filling out “race” on things such as applications, the only thing that applies to me is “white”. Others get to check their origin. African american, Asian, American Indian, Hispanic, Hawaiian Island or White. I’m not just white, I’m half Polish, a quarter […]

I am only Asian to non-Asians.

Karina Irvine, CA I live in an area that has many distinct Asian groups who are first generation Americans: Japanese, Korean, Chinese, Vietnamese, etc. My grandmother was first generation Filipino and my Grandfather and father are both Caucasian. That makes me part-Asian. But to my Asian friends who are first generation, they see me as […]

Are you black, Asian, or normal?

Jenna Overton Langhome, PA I’m a half-black college student. My friends and I were having a discussion about race one day and a few of the white males in the group (my boyfriend among them) reasoned that they probably couldn’t think about race in the same way minorities do, because to be white is to […]

Only A Minority On College Applications

Sarah Nesbitt Dallas, TX I guess you could call this an epidemic of the current generation. Race is now often viewed as a factor to be manipulated, suppressed, and revealed at convenient times. Students are white as far back as they can remember, but the minute the CommonApp goes online, they feel the ache and […]

You must check only one race.

Maureen Shuh New Orleans, LA In New Orleans, my children are told by teachers to check one box for race since there is no multi-racial box to check on school and standardized school forms. The teacher will tell my sons what to check based on which race s/he feels is closest to our sons’ appearance. […]

Hardship. Coffin-ships. Caucasian?! Don’t whitewash me.

Olivia Myers Denver, CO I get rather irritated by the way, whenever race is discussed, it’s assumed that I’m part of a classification because of the color of my skin:because I’m milk white, I must be affluent, privileged, part of WASP culture. It’s assumed by many, implicitly or explicitly, that I will have trouble understanding […]

“What are you?” people always ask.

Nancy Sheperd Sacramento, CA As a mixed-race woman, I’m often struck by others’, and especially strangers’, need to put me into a box. It isn’t only white people, though they are the only ones who use the phrase “What ARE you?” as if I am something other than human. Those who ask are always surprised, […]

I refuse to just check one.

Sarah Pasadena, CA I love the words “Check all that apply.” I proudly check white AND Asian. Sometimes even Pacific Islander to honor the island where I grew up. I refuse to only check ONE box. I will not choose between my Asian heritage, my white experiences, or my island culture.

When checking “white,” I am diminished.

Adelia Dozier Atlanta, GA Every time I have to check my race as “white” or “Caucasian” my stomach turns and I feel diminished. I search all boxes to see if there is a better representative word. I am more than “white” or Caucasian. I am a composite of those whose lives I have shared. Born […]

Check: White… Wait, I’m Hipsanic too?

Andrea M. Newton, MA I grew up not really ever thinking about my race until my college applications asked me to literally box myself into one race. I always thought I was “white” with my Irish last name, Swedish grandmother, and my other American family. I just also had a mother who took us to […]

MY GRANDSON IS NOT AN OTHER!

Henry Lonnemann San Mateo, CA When contacted by the census bureau I was thrilled. It was a pleasure to fulfill my civic duty, and exciting to document my son as my great-great-grandparents had documented theirs. However, when question six came up, What is the persons race?, the conversation turned. My response was that race is […]

“White,” Turkish husband, speak 2+ languages.

PHYLLIS HULL AKTURK Rockville, MD I check “other” for race because we are all just homo sapiens. Although Father was from Norman English+Dutch and Mother from German+English stock (both born and raised in Denver, Colorado), I didn’t know I was a WASP until I got to the dorm, as a junior, at American University, where […]

Not all blacks are African American

Eric D. Riner, VA Both of my parents were born in Haiti and legally immigrated to the United States where I was born. I feel blessed and privilege to call myself Haitian American. I have a rich experience because I grew up as a part of two cultures. My niece and nephew are of Haitian, […]

Biracial. Which box do I check?

Katherine M Clement Genoa, IL As a biracial child growing up in the mid 60’s I remember agonizing over school forms where you were asked to check ONE box. Recently, while filling out employment papers for a large corporation, I encountered this again. My first reaction was anger that “check only one box” was still […]

Born Samoan, raised White, identity undecided.

Karen Grabowski Houston, TX When I was a little girl, strangers would ask me if my mommy is white and my daddy is black. Now that I’m 27, strangers ask if “Grabowski” is my married name. And for 27 years, I’ve smiled and explained I was adopted from Samoa when I was six months old […]

Where’s the box for cultural diversity?

Isabelle Strauss McLean, VA I feel boring when I fill out race and ethnicity on a form – I’m white, nuff said. Or maybe not. My father’s family is of Anglo-German descent, fairly common in the US, but my mother came to the US as an immigrant. Growing up, I spoke a different language at […]

Check one please… Doesn’t fit me!?

JayJay Porcadilla Colorado Springs, CO I am Filipino and Portuguese and much more! I was always afraid of the song “Play that funky music WHITE boy” I don’t know why, but it had so I would check white so I would feel like I was part of everyone around me! To this day I am […]

Please: Hispanic is not a race

Mark Wood-Caballero Tempe, AZ I can’t fully determine what races I have in my heritage. My father, born in Baltimore, was a white anglo-saxon. My mother was born in Peru of Spanish and Incan descent, but with German and English ancestors. I grew up in Mexico as a US Citizen and now live in the […]

You are required to check one.

D. Casey Jones, M.D., Colonel, US Army (Ret) Olympia, WA What I am trying to convey is the institutionalization and public reinforcement of race bias in the U.S. You will find the above six words (or equivalent) on nearly every State and especially Federal form or application that requires personal identifying information. If there is […]

No one box is correct.

David Kung, St. Mary’s City, MD. In 2000 when I filled out my census card and was finally allowed to (correctly) check more than one box, I cried.   David’s story was featured on NPR’s Morning Edition. Listen