Patty Reed, Greenville, SC. Originally from Pennsylvania, I’ve lived here the majority of my life but I cannot say I’m a native South Carolinian. While it seems to be more widely acceptable now, during my high school years in a small town it wasn’t okay to be from “up north somewhere”. A foreigner in my […]
Edward Hershey, Portland, OR. My mom, a Stevenson Democrat, and I were walking home from the subway in Brooklyn ca. 1955 when she spotted a man of color outside the apartment house adjacent to ours.
Mark Brandfass. Pittsburgh, PA. In the summer of ’63 my family had just moved to Whitefish Bay, Wisconsin. My father was a salesman for Westinghouse Electric and we moved as his work demanded. I would be entering the diocesan Catholic seminary the next year, my brothers and sisters attended the local Catholic schools. I don’t […]
Noah Clayton, Lakeland, FL. In the past year I have started be become really fond with Bass fishing. I caught my first Bass towards the end of 2012 and ever since then I have become “hooked”. As I was watching videos on YouTube and doing a little research on techniques and places to fish I […]
Mary F. Howard, Stockbridge, GA. I discovered I am one-fourth Native American. My paternal grandfather is full blood Cherokee. I just learned several months ago by eavesdropping on a conversation about race between my paternal uncle and aunt. They had just learned of additional children by their father outside of the marriage. It has often […]
Nayna Sasidharan Arlington, VA That asked within the first few minutes of meeting someone
Dylan Givens, San Francisco, CA Because I was raised in predominantly white schools and have almost-all white friends, people seem to think that I don’t have a right to be offended when other ethnicities use the N-Word (since I “Don’t really have a black card”).
Elise DuBord, Cedar Falls, IA. Growing up in the Midwest, I started studying Spanish as a second language in high school, fascinated with learning about other cultures and enchanted with the idea of traveling to or even living in a new country. As a middle-class white kid, I was completely unaware of the privilege I […]
Donna Scott, Seattle, WA. I’m passionate about social justice, but I sense the amount of space that I take up, as a white person. I noticed race early on (I’m thinking I noticed it in Kindergarten, I was one of two white kids at my school of ~300) and I’ve been trying my best to […]
Carrie Hunsinger, Wilmington, DE. I am a 1/2 first generation American. My Mother is American (Detroit) and my father is Dutch (Holland). He’s been here almost 60 years and he still speaks with a heavy Dutch accent and therefore I speak English with a bit of a Dutch accent. When 9/11 happened I was in […]
Anonymous, USA. Grew up as the only little brown girl in class, always having to explain why my hair grew up to the skies when it rained and the humidity took control of my tresses, then drew tightly too my head. Never getting assistance from the PTA moms passing out red and black combs on […]
Eli Russell, Austin, TX. As a writer, these six words are something I’ve said before. I lend it here to hopefully add to the growing conversation, to close the divide in the races, to open racist minds and to unite all Americans, all people across the world in peace. It is up to each generation […]
Madison Martin, Ewing, NJ. Growing up in a predominantly white town, race was not a topic of much discussion in the classroom. My parents were good role models to me and my brother and did not hide us from the world outside the “bubble” of our town, but the rest of my town seemed to […]
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 […]
Kim Floyde, Montrose, CO.
Steve Snair, Canada. I’m a white male. By today’s definition, I’m the most privileged person to step foot on the planet. Well, let me tell you a story…it’s a long one, but bear with me. I was born to a single mother, poor, and started off life in a poor neighborhood. I was fortunate that […]
Audrey A Fischer, Wilson, NC. When I lived in Virginia Beach, I didn’t notice race. Up north, it was so institutionalized that I barely knew any People of Colour. When I came down south in the eighth grade, I suddenly was the largest group, but our school was 60 or so percent minority. I was […]
Susi Matthews, Kansas City, MO. I am 1/4 Navajo plus Cherokee and Mohawk. I am also English, Irish, Scots and German. I LOOK white; my full sister looks Native. I experienced the reactions she got when we were kids on vacation. A small restaurant in Colorado thought she was Native America and refused to serve […]
Susan Riker, Washginton, DC. Freshman year on the 4th floor of the International dorm at Mt Holyoke College.
Patricia L. Gadsden, Central, PA. As an African American female in the 1960’s, I was discouraged from attending college. It was explained to me that I wasn’t college material. I’m not sure what they really meant since I graduated with straight A’s from high school.
Harry Ford, Minneapolis, MN. Race is a difficult subject given the large amount of pain many people of color have experienced related to race within this American landscape. We are people in pain hoping that our contributions will be seen by the others.
Bob Rosenfield, St. Louis, MO. I work in a rural area of Missouri where there is no diversity. Most everyone are white and Christian. It is a good experience for all of us. They are curious and repsonsive and they ask many questions about being Jewish and the religion.
Connor F., Upper Arlington, OH I am eleven years old, in fifth grade, and we are reading the novel Chains in my language arts class in Tremont Elementary. It is about a young slave girl trying to protect her sister and find her way to freedom. It is a really good book, and it inspired […]
Ronnie Dunn, Cleveland, OH My family was the third African American family to move on my street, Gay Avenue, on Cleveland’s Eastside in 1964. I was three years old and the youngest of three children. My siblings, a sister and brother, respectively and four years older than I, had already started school. The grandchildren, a […]
Julie Long, Pioneer, CA. When I was 8, we moved from a big city to a small country town, where there were, maybe two other families that weren’t white. I had no idea at 8 years old what race was. I never even differentiated a difference based on appearance, but I remember being suddenly shocked […]
Anonymous, Coconut Creek, FL. Never heard of the term “othering”, until the PBS special. If nothing else, it’s a great example of creating language where we can speak to each other, however small.
Michelle C-H Dorchester , MA When I was a little kid, in the 70’s, My family was the only black folks most of the people around us had ever seen. Everyday in my elementary school I got some ignorant comment. “Are you brown cuz you eat brown bread?” and the like. The worst was from […]
Rhoda Locklear, Las Vegas, NV. Words of my mother the first time I ever saw a black lady who offered me a glass of water.
Joyce Goodluck, East Lansing, MI. On Location, MSU. Before coming to MSU I knew one side of racism from media. Whites discriminating Blacks. I even once experienced that when I passed by Akers Hall and some one shouted at me from his window black and African. I was like he is a racist.But whom am […]
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 […]
Elizabeth Rodriguiz, Ypsilanti, MI. In the early 2000s I tagged along with my husband to his professional society meeting in Atlanta. While he went to lectures, I explored the city. I took the Metro to the stop nearest Ebenezer Baptist Church and walked through the neighborhood to get there. At the church, I actually asked […]
Barney Rush, Chevy Chase, MD. Ours is an adopted family: my wife and I have two daughters, both of whom are Caucasian, as we are. We adopted them through agencies, the older when we lived in New York; the younger when we lived in Florida. After living six years in Europe, we returned to the […]
Diane Smith, Anchorage, AK. I was the only white girl in my 6th grade class at Windsor Hills Elementary School in Los Angeles. I wished so much that I looked like my classmates. My greatest compliment back then (the 1960s) was that I might be white on the outside, but I was black on the […]
Helen Nelson, Saxonburg, PA. I grew up working in the tobacco fields. Cutting tobacco with an ax. Piling the plants. Stringing plants on a wooden lathe with a spear. I was a dying breed, is what they told me in college. No one believes me now that this is who I was and who I […]
Renée Quarterman, Philadelphia, PA I used to fantasize about how active I would have been if I were an adult in the 60’s. I imagined that I’d march and sit in and boycott, doing what I could every day to advance the cause of Civil Rights. Then I realized about five years ago that the […]
Marlot Roads, West STL County, CO. March 10 1964 Frankfort, KY
Leslie Troyer, Sammamish, WA. I was raised in a very WASP’ish environment. There was very little opportunity to interact with people of color or alternative life styles. When opportunity did present I focused on the situation, not what the person looked like. In High School, I worked for a woman while working on a charter […]
Deirdre Stoelzle, Casper, WY. In Rwanda there were times that I was the first white person some Rwandans had ever seen. Mostly people wanted to touch my skin, my hair, but at one prison there were two little girls with their mother, bringing food to their imprisoned father. They saw me and screamed in horror. […]
Lucy Moua, Fresno, CA. My name is Lucy and I am Hmong. “Hmong” some may question and say as most people are not aware of this particular ethnicity. Growing up, I’ve always thought my ethnicity was well known and familiar to people as I grew in a community where people embraced the Hmong culture even […]
Anonymous, Spokane, WA. Playing on the radio when my 16-year-old friend in high school came back to school after her brother was murdered someone playing Russian Roulette while drunk in her home. Native American Family.
Samantha Charter, Phillipston, MA. My six words may seem a little odd until you hear the story behind them. I am white and my boyfriend is not. I grew up in a small predominantly white town and because of this the few non white families in town tended to stick out a little. No one […]
David Chen, New York, NY. I grew up in China listening to artists like 50 cent, Tupac, Snoop dogg (lion), and Jay-Z. I have every one of Jay-Z’s songs memorized and for a Chinese kid, that wasn’t easy. For as long as I can remember, I was fascinated by African American (is this the politically […]
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 […]
Mona Khadr, Washington, DC. “But where are you from, originally?” is a question I get a lot. When I was younger, I answered proudly (“Egyptian!”) because my heritage was something that made me unique from my mostly white-American peers in the suburbs of MD and PA. As I got older and entered high school, college, […]
Jedd Birkner, Torrance, CA. Race is a social construct. Prejudice is a way of expressing ignorance and fear. Senseless hatred is passed from generation to generation. I pray that the people in my country with hatred in their hearts for those they perceive as “the other” become a smaller and smaller minority with each generation. […]
Gabriella Grange, Plano, TX. Before coming to college, I always thought of myself as a black person. But when I got to college a few years ago, I heard people use the term “people of color” and it boggled me. Even though the term is used to foster solidarity, the term can be used to […]
Nicholas Howe, Northhampton, MA. Smith College I attended a mixed-race suburban public high school in Connecticut, where I competed on both the swim team and the track team in the late 80’s. Only one member of the swim team was African American, and his race was the elephant in the room that nobody would talk […]
Mike, USA When I was a young child I lived in an area where there were no people of color. My family went to visit my grandparents and while I was playing I saw a kid who was black. I had never seen anyone that had skin color other than my own, at least not […]
Drew Murray, Owensboro, KY I grew up in a very divided household when it comes down to the words race and racism. When I 7 my parents divorced, I moved in with my mother and she began dating, 9 months rolls around and she is pregnant by her then boyfriend, now husband. This man was […]
Kristina T. Sanders, Sumter, SC. A regular day at work turned into an eye opening experience. I had helped a customer pick out a pair of shoes, and it was time for him to purchase them. The customer was a tall middle age Caucasian gentlemen. I gave him his total and he pulled out the […]
Roslyn Jefferson, Albany, NY. I grew up in a majority white city, so this was the story of my life! When younger, didn’t know how to address racial issues or topics, when they popped up, with my white friends. Thank goodness I feel comfortable with that now!
Gordon Lee Pattison, Los Angeles, CA. In 1959, when I was 14 years old, I moved from Los Angeles to Honolulu. I had just started taking French as a foreign language at my junior high school in Los Angeles and wanted to continue. However, there was only one junior high school in Honolulu at that […]
Diane Graves, San Antonio, TX. My husband and I (both Anglo) were driving our adopted daughter (born in El Salvador, adopted as an infant, a U.S. citizen since she was 11 months old) to a guest ranch in Colorado. It was 2004; our daughter was 11 years old. Late on Sunday morning, we stopped to […]
Sean B., Riverside, CA. I am half white and half Filipino. Growing up in a melting pot such as Southern California has been awesome. I never truly understood how lucky I was to live here until I traveled to the south (multiple states) to visit family. My wife is Filipina (born in the south). While […]
Lisa Jasinsk, Trinity University In 2007, I spent a year working at The Apollo Theater in Harlem, NY. One day on my way into the office, I slipped on an icy sidewalk on 125th Street, and in a comic prat fall, landed on my bottom in a filthy puddle. A group of guys gathered outside […]
Michael Gauer, Egan, MN. I’m a white man who had a black roommate and believe the color of skin it totally irrelevant. White Americans have learned this, so we must all move forward with confidence that the bad racial past is behind us.
Wyndee Holbrook, San Antonio, TX. Mrs. Thicklin was my 5th grade teacher. She was my best teacher and she was my first African American teacher. She believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself. She taught me unequivocally that race does not define people, regardless of what my dad said.
Flora Griffith, Omaha, NE. I was eight years old when I first began to feel like an outsider. My school was very segregated, white people hung out with white people and black people hung out with black people, ect. I felt alone, I was never truly accepted into the black, white, or latino communities. The […]
Mandy P, Sacramento, CA. When I was 7 years old we moved to Sacramento from Oregon. The culture and diversity is very in California than in Oregon. Moving to California exposed me to many other races and cultures. I saw many other races in my environment. Although in my neighborhood, where I lived and attended […]
Judy Vasquez, Murrieta, CA. I am a caucasion female, brown hair with brown eyes and my husband is proudly Hispanic/Mexican. We were pulled over at a checkpoint one evening on or way home from a family event and when the officer looked in the car, he asked me, “Ma’am, are you being held against your […]
Luis E. Pacheco, Ceiba, Puerto Rico. As a Puerto Rican in my mid-60s, who has lived two-thirds of his life in the Continental USA, it’s become more and more evident to me that many white folk are really scared of becoming members of a ‘minority’ group (a notion we have to change; it really is […]
Ellis Clark, Spain. As a seventeen-year-old black male, my view to race has been cushioned by growing up in a comfortable, yet politically aware household. While I knew racism existed, it rarely touched me growing up, and when it did, it was the microagressive type. Real issues with race didn’t begin to pop up for […]
Dr. Jacqueline Lawrence, Windsor, CA. As a young child, my first memories of blacks in San Francisco were scary, and they weren’t from television. I remember smelling the strong scent of urine in the elevators, hearing moms tell their children to “Get cho ass out of my face” and “Go sit cho ass down” and […]
Brisa Gardiner, Canada I am very confused about my identity and what parts of my background are “mine to use”. I was born in Mexico and lived there for my toddler years but I am only 25% Latin, with the rest being Scottish and Swiss. My mother, who is half Guatemalan, grew up in Guatemala, […]
Carmen Angelica Zapata, Santa Monica, CA. I lived in Spain for a year after growing up in the United States and for the first time I was not other. No one yelled “speak English!” no one asked if I was legal, or if I was going to be deported. It was the first time in […]
Barnstorming Elizabeth “Bessie” Colman was the first African American to get an international pilots license at a time when women were not supposed to – men would routinely sabotage their aircraft – What really grounded her was that being black meant Bessie was turned away by any American flight school she applied to.
Amber Price, Atlanta, GA. I was raised in Chattanooga, Tennessee. I grew up ashamed of my Blackness. I heard the n-word for the first time in elementary school. I prayed every night for God to make me white. At the age of 17 I was told to go sit with the rest of the Blacks […]
Caprice Becker, Manhattan, KS. I was in High School in a very small town of about 1300 mostly descended from German immigrants in the 1870s, all white (except for the one Korean who had been adopted by a local family when she was a toddler) in the early 70’s. All the surrounding communities in Central […]
Vanessa Guzman, Corona, CA. I am a Mexican women who has brown skin and all my life I was always self conscious about it because people would always point it out to me even those who were also Hispanic but they were lighter skinned. Even my family would. And I always took it as negative […]
Thaddeus, Nashville, TN. I was raised poor in Louisiana where the generations of my family before me farmed and picked cotton, fished and lived off the land. Our water was rain water caught in a ground cistern and we used an outhouse for a toilet and boiled water for each night to bathe. So please […]
Ted Mittelstaedt, Portland, OR. I was born in 1966 and by age 13 I knew how to solder and by age 15 I was building electronic devices from schematics. By age 20 I had taken apart and put back together several different kinds of computers and written code in assembly language. I also have a […]
Lee, North Little Rock, AK.
Yvonne Rosenberg, Sioux Falls, SD. Born and raised in Fort Worth, Tx. Raised by Mexican American Grandparents who grew up in a generation where Spanish was not spoken outside the home because of white America. In raising me, they refused to speak Spanish in the home. I was referred as a “coconut” by those of […]
Anisha (Blair) Taylor, Riverside, CA. “Your beautiful. For a black girl.” . Those words spilled out the mouth of a young black male, in my 12th grade math class. Only then was reminded. That being a Dark skin Black Women, We are not considered to be as beautiful as other women. I was in second […]
Doug Langworthy, Vashon, WA. Our country started changing the minutes we white folks started building our first settlements, displacing the people that had been here for thousands of years. It has been one long evolution of change. Most of it for the better, some of it not. Let’s not fear the change. Let’s not fear […]
Amelinda, New Haven, CT. I am as white as they come… Blonde hair, blue eyes; English, Swedish, Irish, German, French heritage… I grew up in Nebraska, surrounded by the ‘whitest’ people you can imagine. The first ‘black’ person I saw was a professional photographer when I was a toddler, and I was absolutely shocked (I […]
Angela, Manchester, NH. Since I was a small child, I have thought black people were more beautiful, more brave, more…everything than whites. I am white and grew up in a very white state. I always felt other than everyone else, and thought that being black must be wonderful. I didn’t realize until I was older […]
Donna Cook, Roseville, MN. I have very fair skin, Fitzpatrick Scale I, and growing up in Los Angeles meant lots of unintended, fairly serious, and wretchedly painful sunburns. I was also a bit of a tomboy wild child who would refuse to let my mother brush my hair, hair she intentionally left long as a […]
Val Andrew, Overland, MO. My parents taught us early on to accept all people and invited international college students of different races, religions, and nationalities to stay with us during holidays. During the Vietnam War we hosted an AFS student from Vietnam for a year. I grew up a few miles from Ferguson and taught […]
Jason Fong, Los Angeles, CA. Asian Americans have been in the U.S. for hundreds of years and yet we are routinely excluded from discussions about race relations in America. I’m in the 11th grade and I learn nothing about Asian Americans and our long history in America in my U.S. history class. I don’t think […]
Charlotte, Houston, TX. I grew up close to African Americans. They were guests in our home and people on the bus with us. I never noticed how taboo touching was between us until I was 30 and a neighbor girl came over to play with my kids. She skinned her knee and as I hugged […]
Dave Parnell, Carrollton, TX. Our kindergarten daughter wanted to go to her friend’s Halloween party. I saw that the address and the protective father in me did not feel safe letting her go. But I called and the black man I spoke to certainly heard the fearful white father on the other end of the […]
Chuck, Portland, OR. It’s that look. The look I’ve seen all my life. Like you just found a gross bug in your house that you don’t want to deal with. I don’t think that the look is intentional but it’s the first thing I see when you see me, and I immediately know that you’ve […]
Katherine Ellis, American Fork, UT. I stood alone by the playground, kicking pebbles. Someone approached me and I glanced up eagerly, hoping for a friend. “Are you Chinese?” the girl spat at me. “No,” I mumbled. “I’m half Hmong.” “Monk? What’s that?” She looked at me like I should be bald and humming in an […]
Jessica, CA. I am a white female living in California with my white family. I grew up in an area where I was one of a few white girls in my school. I made friends of all different races and came to understand the benefits of diversity, however, it wasn’t always a pleasant experience. I […]
R.E.A.L. Talk, High Tech Middle Media Arts, 7th Grade Trailblazer I never really have thought through what my grandma was saying. I was only just a little girl. I still am but after all these years, I have decoded her. She never thought she was being controlling. She never knew how meaningful all those sentences, […]
Joe Schechter, FL. This happened when I was in high school. It was not the only incident of its kind. It was especially galling when you consider that members of my family died in the Shoah (Holocaust). I am not white enough for some people, & far too white for others.
Molly, Bozeman, MT. I was in my teens before it occurred to me that Band-Aids are made to match the skin of the White majority. That’s a trivial example of White privilege, but a telling one.
Amber Halverson, Eugene, OR. “Oh good! He doesn’t look like he has any white in him at all!” My first real encounter with my own race that I can remember was when I was in middle school. My white godparents had just adopted a black baby. They “kept his black name”, DiMario, as his middle […]
Laurel Sanchez, La Verne, CA.
Daisy Reyes, Rialto, CA. Even as a little girl in Mexico I was the “Chinita” (little Chinese). When I came to the U.S., I was either confused with Filipino or just Asian when people couldn’t figure out which race. My now husband, has been confused with a Hindu. We are both Mexican-born. But the thing […]
Cynthia Waszak Geary, Baltimore, MD. I grew up in Durham, NC and attended Hillside High School as part of the first court ordered desegregation plan to achieve racial balance. I am heart broken that since that time there has been a steady and deliberate re-segregation of schools in the US. I am hoping for leadership […]
Amberly Richins, Rigby, ID. Through my experiences living in another country for a couple years I’ve learned that the most rewarding feeling in the world is loving a person the way they are regardless of differences.
Kimberly, Pittsfield, MA. My father, whom I don’t know, is black and my mother is white. I was raised in a White, Irish family. Growing up, no one in my family looked like me, but I never noticed until ‘Roots’ premiered on TV. I had my son with a white man, so he is one […]
Hilary Salazar, McAllen, TX. I attended a middle school with only seven Hispanics/Latinos. One day during 2nd period, the librarian called all seven of us over the intercom to come to the library. I had no idea why, but everyone laughed as I walked out of class. I got to the library along with the […]
Lauren Russell, Springfield, MO. Words my babysitter told me when I was 7 years old. I remember–she sat me down one day, studied me for a moment and then spoke cold and low, “I found out about your real father and I know he isn’t white. You should be ashamed of yourself and ashamed of […]
Toby Johnston USA. I grew up in Los Angeles the 80’s, rabid fan of all things rap. I am white and for many of my friends (Mexican, black, white, lower/middle/upper class, whatever) rap was the music of rebellion. I got called ‘wigger’ by my white(r) friends and heard a lot of hate spewed. And yet […]
Jessica Johnson, Long Beach, CA. My grandparents took pride in not being a “typical” black family. I grew up in Prince George’s County, MD (about 10mins outside of the nation’s capital) which is home to the largest number of middle class black families in the United States. But outside of my community, I noticed even […]
Meghan, Boston, MA. Right after my mother picked me up from my high school freshman orientation she told me that the Asian and Black girls I was talking to, “Only want to be friends with you because you are white,” and that I need to make sure I talked to more white girls. My best […]