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 […]
Emily Bertot, Clarksville, MD. I grew up in Florida in an extremely non-diverse, middle-class area. Moving up North was a big culture shock, but it forced me to realize how many different types of people there are. I was also made aware of my privilege.
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.
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 […]
Merritt Campbell Burton, Lewiston, ID I considered myself color-blind until I learned that wasn’t helping. I was one of those hippy-dippy people who would say “we need to just move past it.” We don’t; not yet. We need to acknowledge and talk about it. Long conversations, uncomfortable conversations. My first experience with racism was as […]
Sydney Fitzgerald, Annville, PA Growing up, I went to a private/catholic school that was predominantly white. Along with that, I was raised by two white parents and no knowledge of any other race. My neighborhood had maybe two black families and I only had friends who were white. Because I grew up this way, I […]
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 […]
Rylan A Brooks, Mount Joy, PA I have never been discriminated against in my life, based on my skin color and my gender. I have seen discrimination first hand on many occasions, once towards one of my best friends. The level of anger I felt was indescribable. I was raised in a household where everyone […]
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 […]
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 […]
Deborah Halperin, Bloomington, IL A man said this to me while we were in line at the post office. I was 18 and had just moved from Hawaii to Iowa for college. I am part Chinese and Filipino. I look Asian. He must have thought I was Vietnamese? Korean? I was caught off guard. I […]
Yiming Fang, Hopkinton, MA I remember once in fifth grade, a friend and I were talking, and she was trying to figure out how many hours she slept for some reason. My dad had taught me a trick about that, so I was able to tell her really quickly. She asked me how I knew […]
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 […]
Lanthe Keller, Knoxville, TN I grew up in a small suburb outside of Seattle, WA. I played with and had friends in my class who looked nothing like me and only when moving to the south did I realize I had never seen so many white children. The south has a reputation for racism, it’s […]
Anna Fox, Goldsboro, NC I am a white women, and growing up, I did not really realize how much privilege I had. I went to a small private Christian school starting in seventh grade and eventually graduating as a senior in high school there. The whole time I attended this school, I think there were […]
Trey Willy Seale, AL I was small and white. Jenny was old and black. She took care of me when I was little when my great aunts that I lived with were away at work. I played with her grandchildren at our home there in the country. Together we would climb the high magnolias, explore […]
Kristine Knowles, Idaho Falls, ID I’m a 56-year-old woman from the south and racism is worse now, by far than in my youth. Although being called, Cracker, Honky, White, etc never really affected me being told often that I am racist has. Slavery has been around since the dawn of man. The rest of the […]
Stephen Still, Birmingham, MI I’m from a small town in the state of Washington, didn’t see a black person until I was 10 years old, but parents laid down the law early, I had to love everyone! Be like Jesus…”Red and yellow, black or white, they are precious in his sight”. My dad was transferred […]
Rose Brown, Fort Myers, FL I don’t typically tell people that I’m Jewish. In elementary school, I was the only Jew and as such I was solely responsible for singing Jewish songs during the holidays and explaining our traditions. It continued in middle school, with everyone turning around to look at me during our week […]
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.
Bruce Flippens, Washington DC. I was told that by the first man who hired me when I left the Army. He hired me because of my military background, over the phone through several interviews.
Marlot Roads, West STL County, CO. March 10 1964 Frankfort, KY
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 […]
Sofia Cuenca Rojas, Acworth, GA I am Hispanic and due in great part to my parents, who I am thankful for, I have been protected from racism for the majority of my life. And yet when someone makes what they would consider a harmless joke, safely from the other side of a wall they use […]
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 […]
Audrey Lee Cho, USA. My parents immigrated to America in 1973, with my older brother Lee Wan Young and my sister, Lee Shin. I was named Audrey when I came along a couple years later, and our little brother Tom was born in 1978. My mother tells me they carefully watched American television, sitcoms and […]
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 […]
Jasmine Perry, Cleveland, OH. When it comes to race I honestly don’t know what I am. My families backdrop is kind of patchy, no one in my family knows, my grandma recently found out she was adopted she found out that she wasn’t related to anybody she grew up with. Which means the only clue […]
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, […]
Leah Thomas Florissant, MO I grew up in Saint Louis, MO and I moved to a mainly white private school in the 5th grade. I was a “gifted student” according to my public school district and my parents struggled to give me a better education. As I got older, of dating age, I started to […]
Jesus Castro Menifee, CA California Baptist University CBU HIS311 I was born in Mexico and am the first person in my family to have a career with retirement benefits. Proud to be in this country and served in the Military. I now have a family and I am teaching my 2 year old son the […]
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 […]
Rubani Streete-Hamilton, United Kingdom I remember one of the first times I went to Jamaica for holiday and to see my family. I’m British born but both my parents are Jamaican. We were out in the bush when these two white people with dreads came through cutting down the bush with a mustache. They greeted […]
Noel Hudson, ME I go to college in a pretty white community. There are about 10-20 black people out of 600 students. I grew up in a town just south where the population was very mixed; Whites, Blacks, Hispanics, and Asians. The high school I went to rarely had any cases over racism as the […]
Octavia, Louisville, KY. In 2014, our 11 year old son would play outside everyday with the neighborhood little boys. Our son was told by the 10 year old friend and next door neighbor his mom said my son could not come inside his house. He was also NOT invited to the 10 year next neighbor’s […]
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, […]
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 […]
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 […]
D., Toomsboro, GA I grew up in a small southern town with a fairly even mix of African Americans and whites. I went to a school that was predominantly African American, had friends of both races, and an understanding that the kind of person you were had nothing to do with what color your skin […]
Donna Monroe, Indianapolis, IN. It was the summer of 1957. I was riding on a train with my mother when I saw another little girl who was having her hair braided. She was crying. My heart went out to her because I cried when my mom tried to comb the tangles out of my hair.
Sarah Hildreth Ingersoll, Middlebury, VT Growing up in Baltimore in the 70’s and 80’s, I attended an all-girls’ school, starting in fifth grade. In the early grades, I don’t recall any classmates “of color”, but by the time I graduated, we had one black classmate. She was really smart and went to Yale. I don’t […]
Steven J. Scott Los Angeles, CA
Chasity Massey, Trion, GA Where I’m from its unusual to see a lot of blacks or mixed races. We rarely see a lot of Hispanics, Asians but there aren’t barley anything else. I’m from a small town from a very religious family and “mixing races” as they called it is wrong to them. They frowned […]
Ciandra, Denver, CO . Black people are not monolithic. We are a diverse group of individuals with different experiences. I grew up in Colorado and I have my own experience of what it’s like to be Black in America. My experience with racism was subtle but still painful…it hurts when it’s implied that “you’re not […]
Belinda, USA The reason I chose the first 6 words “Stick out on both sides…safe?” I have family in Minnesota, where my sisters and I stick out by being brown. My family in Minnesota are all white in small towns. I have been looked at differently: one time on a trip with my grandma from […]
Lynn Keane, Canada I live at the intersection of race + gender inequality. When I was a little girl, my mother’s coworker saw us shopping on a Saturday. My mother lost her job on Monday. When I was a little older, someone wrote “n****r” on our apartment door. I remember being scared and hurt. My […]
Ronald Mark, Camano Island, WA I’ve never seen a white person, I mean truly white, and I’ve never seen a truly black person. We are all shades of beige! Can we ignore the rest of the slang toss it out of the dictionary. Consider it juvenile! Move on, No discrimination, No riots. At some point […]
Anusha Ghildyal, USA I used to get this comment often when I was in elementary school. I would be surprised to hear this comment because it was never something I associated with myself and my identity. Now, I wonder why people would involve my Indian food to serve as a stereotype for my race and […]
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.
Brenda Becker, Brooklyn, NY. I grew up in a white Queens neighborhood where neighbors worried that “they” would “get in,” and the cool girls had straight sheets of hair. I was delighted to meet and make black friends at my all-girls Catholic high school. It was the 70s, and even as I struggled with my […]
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 […]
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 your very stereotypical redneck Kentuckian, […]
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 […]
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 […]
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, Sacramento, CA. I remember the time when we just moved here in the United States, we were called “beggars” by an old lady because of the way we dress. Coming from a country where lifestyle was just simple and plain affected our adjustment, and made it hard for us to adopt, especially the place […]
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 […]
Kim Floyde, Montrose, CO.
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 […]
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. He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother The Hollies The road is long With many a winding turn That leads us […]
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 […]
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.
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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”).
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
Jean Pierce Morrow, State College, PA I grew up in a suburb of West Philadelphia in the 1950s. My town had two elementary schools, and I spent my first four years at the completely white school. Then we moved to another part of town and I started fourth grade in the school with about a […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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!
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.
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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.
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 […]
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 […]
Regina Hatten, Japan. I grew up in a predominantly white area with family who used racial slurs regularly and racially profiled all those who were different. As an adult I learned how wrong they were and I don’t want that to be who I am.
Aaliyah Ballard, Charlotte, NC.
Erica McCullough, Rancho Cucamonga, CA. “No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion, people must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”- […]
Christopher, Seattle, WA. I was born in the US in the late sixties, I am Caucasian, and I had not even once experienced any form or racism, whatsoever, until I was in my later 20s. I am 50 year old now, and I have only seen that racism against whites in the black community has […]
Mary Rodriguez, Carmichael, CA. True question asked of me by my very first crush. I remember this time vividly. I was in science class and across from me was the “love of my life”..it was 6th grade. I was really excited to work with him, and when he looked at his friend then back at […]
Anonymous, TX. Said a well travelled Black American female veteran to her biracial, trilingual, and dual citizen son. Behind her, in full agreement, stood her Eastern European Jewish husband. As madly in love as was at first sight, their relationship was taboo, condemned by family and friends alike. Now years later they faced their resultant […]
When I was younger, I always thought that race was real, I was surprised to find that it is not biologically real. Now that I know this I realized that some stereotypes I made about people are not true. I had always thought that if you looked one way then you were from a certain […]
Back when I was a kid, I used to wonder why or how people are different, why do we all have different races? When I was in preschool, my mom would always tell me not to play with kids that were bad. Those kids were black. She said that they were troublemakers, misbehaved, and that […]
R.E.A.L. Talk, High Tech Middle Media Arts, 7th Grade Trailblazer It has always confused me when people call others “white”, or “black”, because no one’s skin is “black”, or “white”. Besides, no one names their kids the color of their skin, so why do we call them that? In the past I have made myself […]
R.E.A.L. Talk, High Tech Middle Media Arts, 7th Grade Trailblazer Race and racism isn’t something I’ve had really any experiences with all my life. I don’t know anyone, I’ve never heard or seen anything before videos and everything with this project, and nothing has ever happened towards me. The only experiences I’ve had are from […]
Keira Glover, England. I was sat on the train yesterday reading Tolkiens ‘Lord of the Rings’ when a black woman sat down next to me, she kept leaning over my shoulder so I assumed she was a fan and that she was reading along, I even slowed my pace to give her more time to […]
Nicole Valenzi, New Smyrna Beach, FL. My experience with race only started really when I entered public school. Until then, I can count on one hand the number of non-white people I interacted with. My mother told me part of the reason she took us out of our sheltered private school was because I pointed […]
Steve Hammond, Oberlin, OH. The first time I heard the phrase white privilege was at our dining room table. The kids were catching us up with their day at school and I was a bit surprised by something one of the kids had done that involved managing to never go to one of her classes […]
Nathan Krasniak, Moreno Valley, CA. As a young child, my parents instilled a solid work ethic and introduced me to setting goals. 18 years later I am so very thankful! Initially I wasn’t very receptive. I didn’t understand why my friends didn’t have chores and I had quite a bit of them. My parents would […]
Wanda Luna, Canada. Wanda Luna. 41 years old. Mestiza, Chilean born. When I was 4 while playing with my little brother I over heard my aunt say to my mom how bad she felt that I looked indigenous. Many in Chile still favor those with lighter skin and will self identify as white.
Phillip T., Elk Grove, CA. Prior to going to school I didn’t know a lick of English. My parents spoke to me either in Cantonese or Vietnamese, but when I enter kindergarten I learned English for the first time. I don’t remember much of kindergarten, I don’t even remember her name. I was in E.S.L […]
Tina S. Walther, Milan, MI. My mother was pregnant with me when she moved from upstate NY to the south in 1962. While the weather was nice the surroundings were challenging – especially for a white, woman, Catholic, with no accent and someone not willing to have a maid or gardener. So it was time […]
Tiffany, Indianapolis, IN. I was born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia. But I grew up in the middle class suburbs. My schools were overwhelmingly white. Black was something you saw on the news, heard about from others or saw on Marta. I grew up in a neighborhood where ding dong ditch was called N-word Knocking. […]
Jessica Cooper, Glasgow, KY. The first time I met an African-American individual I was three years old. My mother and I were walking down an isle in the supermarket and I looked up to see a little girl with the prettiest hair. She had braids with beads and ponytails and I loved it. My three-year-old […]
Marilyn Anne Kay Wimberley, TX The year was 1968. We were gathered in the formal dining hall of the sorority house, lit only by candles, for our sorority initiation. All white females dressed in matching white gowns. One of my sorority sisters commented, ‘we look just like the Klan.’ This was at the University of […]
Barbara Fought, Jamesville, NY. Faculty The most impacting cultural experience for me related to race was when in the 20s I lived in Detroit, a majority-black city.
Malaika, Suitland, MD. In 2014 I decided to move “down South” because I wanted to escape the higher cost of living (and the crazy, global-warming-induced snowstorms) of the Northeast. I thought moving down South would be a financially pragmatic, yet exciting, thing to do. I found a job down there making decent money and then […]
Susan Duncan, Bristol, NH. When I was in the fourth grade, my family moved from Concord, North Carolina, to Leaksville (now Eden), North Carolina. Our street, Patrick Street, was parallel to Henry Street and the dividing line between the “white” neighborhood and the black/African-American neighborhood. Our next door neighbor, Miss Mary, had a large yard […]
Sophia Leavitt, USA. I haven’t thought much about my race until talking about it in class. Now I realize that there is so much that I don’t know and so much I need to learn.
Amanda Perez, Washington, DC. This was said to me when I arrived for a job interview and they were meeting for the first time.
RuNett Nia Ebo, Philadelphia, PA. I was seven years old and had never heard the word before. Didn’t know what it meant but she made an ugly face when she said it. I knew it had to be bad.
Jeremy Murray, Tuscaloosa, AL. Growing up my family moved around the country a lot. My brother and I had to attended many different schools but no matter where we were we always get told the same thing, “you don’t sound like you’re from here”, “you sound so proper”, and the my favorite one “y’all talk […]
Erin Thomas, Riverside, CA. In 1956, when I was in 4th grade (9-10 years old), we had a less-than-kind teacher, but you were taught to respect your teacher, no matter what. We were sitting in a circle on the floor having some kind of sharing session and the teacher had a boy, Dale, stand up […]
Mike Lynch, Madison, WI. I was the only white person at my girlfriend’s family reunion. Before I had a chance to introduce myself, her Great-Aunt asked me, “Are you the insurance salesman, dear?”
Kathy E. McCabe, Columbia, SC. Yes, these were the words running through my mind back in 1968, while standing outside amongst the rest of the junior high school student body. I watched with curiosity as the two black students made their way ever so cautiously off the school bus. Oh, we had been forewarned of […]
Karen Dahn, Athens, OH. I went to Liberia as a Peace Corps Volunteer right out of college in the late 60’s, after having grown up in Montana and gone to school in Colorado with very little exposure to non white people. Being in Africa was a life changing experience. I did not intend to do […]
Edward M Moriarty, Clearwater, FL. A profound change to my thinking of right and wrong, when a FRIEND was removed from a picture of my friends and myself that appeared in my hometown newspaper in 1959 rural Maryland.
Alma Scott-Buczak, Cliffside Park, NJ. I was in the first class of women to attend Lafayette College in Easton PA. It was also the first class to have a concentration of more than 20 students of color. Over the past 40 years I have often been asked to reflect on my experiences as one of […]
Kev Manning, Aptos Hills, CA. My experience has been– culturally, people with more southern (rural?) roots tend to be porch people (and employ languish-avoiding strategies), making them more outgoing, boisterous, and apt to loud outdoor partying, while feeling sorry for their quiet (near death?) neighbors; ….at the same time, people with more northern (urban?) roots […]
Candayshia Loyd, Flint, MI. Growing up I was taught to be a quiet and polite black woman. I had to take persecution from men and I had to do what they said. I’m not someones servant, im not a maid. I’m going to be your Black Women President one day.
Matthew Garcia, Salinas, CA. I’m African-American, my mother would have my stay at my baby sitters house after school while she was working. One day my mom picked me up from my baby sitters house but before we left my mom and the babysitter were having conversation. I was playing in the living room when […]
Johnson, USA. I am sick to death of people trying to pretend like there aren’t legitimate reasons for racism. Not always, but they are there. I was raised not to be racist and people say racism is a learned behavior…yeah…I learned it myself from being around blacks. Black people can’t see it like everyone else […]
Colby Finch, Eugene, OR. Im Colby Finch, 16 yrs old. I grew up in foster care, and in the system, I met a lot of people who were colored. I made a connection with another youth. His name was Devonte, and my foster parents at the time were uneasy about people of color. I brought […]
Consuelo, Stone Mountain, GA. This is because the two of the men in my life have dismissed me because I do not fit the ideals of what an ideal women should look like. Their spouses dismiss, disrespect my existence. My father and younger brother believe that white people are the epitome of all that is […]
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 […]
Samuel C. Johnson, Keezletown, VA. I am a white man now 67 years of age. In May, 1968 (a month after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.) I had just completed basic training in the Army in North Carolina, and was on my way to my home area near Philadelphia. I got off […]
Alli Minch, Veneta, OR. When we still lived in California and my biracial twins were very young, a woman stopped me in the store to comment on how cute they were, and asked me where I got them from, since she was interested in adopting. They’re my children, not a designer handbag you can order […]
Andrea Lopez, Sacramento, CA. When confronted with the question of whether or not I’ve experienced racism in my life, I always remember the first time I felt discriminated against. I was about twelve years old and I was meeting my best friend’s father for the first time. She moved to California from Georgia with her […]
Stephanie DeRoose, Baltimore, MD. During a service trip to Washington DC, I encountered many nice and talkative people while I walked the streets. I made a comment to another volunteer and her response was, “It’s because they’re black isn’t it?” I had never experienced such rude commentary and didn’t know what to say. My comment […]
Ron Boose, Atlanta, GA. It wasn’t until 33 years after the first television was invented in 1927 that a black actor and actress were seen on television.
Barry Watkins, Santa Rosa, CA. My mother took me back when she told me that. She was loving & guileless. She drove off the road when I told her I had Black roommates in SF, though I grew up in Beaumont, TX. I never thought of my roommates as “Black”, they were individuals – Ron […]
M C Antone, Ft Lauderdale, FL. In 1969 I told my parents that I would rather dance with the black kids at a high school dance. My father stated he did not want anyone calling his daughter a “n*****” lover. I retorted “I am and I’m proud of it” Then he struck me. I can […]
Amy D., Royal Oaks, CA. One night in San Francisco, when walking home from my car after a late work night, a man came toward me and tried to steal my purse. My immediate instinct was to resist and call out, hoping for some intervention from those living in the houses nearby. Ultimately he took […]
Leigh Marz, Kensington, CA. I remember visiting my grandma in Arkansas in the summer. She took my younger brother and I to a park so we could play with other children. But when we started to play with some African American kids on the monkey bars it was suddenly “time to go.”
Tunya Marie Loftis, Dallas, TX. I love who I am. I am the firstborn of my mother with four siblings under me. Strangely enough, when I was young, I didn’t know my Mom was white. She was my normal. She was just Mama. Who taught me how to read and color. She did my hair, […]
Colleen Schwab, Seattle, WA. I grew up in a very diverse area of CA where many children were first generation immigrants, and many children were of multi-racial backgrounds, mostly middle to lower class families. And my whole family has grown up with and around people from many different backgrounds. So I had no issue trying […]
Susan Crandall, Albuquerque, NM. I was infected with racism early breathing it in almost with my first breath. I was injected with racism early along with my immunizations, this one, though, making me prone to its infection, instead of immune. Although my mother tried to teach me otherwise, racism lives in the voice floating up […]
David Norwood, USA. (Not sure what the rule is on contractions 🙂 I first realized I wasn’t afraid of black people when I was in grad school in Denton TX. A friend and I had just been out at the clubs and were finishing the evening at Whataburger, as was typical in that place and […]
Sandra Durbin, San Diego, CA. It was hard. I was smart, black and female, 18 years old in 1966. I joined the U S Navy, because they promised me college. I give the govenment 3 years, and they give me four years of college. It was horrible. I was given a Captain’s Mast, at 8:30 […]
Jaden Miskowiec, Memphis, TN. I went to homecoming with my best friend, who happens to be black. One woman asked my mother if we were dating because she was concerned about our relationship. First time I experienced racial discrimination (though not the first time I had seen it).
Stan Sankey, Federal Way, WA. While liking all my black friends, many on the national scene are trouble makers. The country is more divided than in many years under Obama and Holder.
Patti Bear Middletown, DE This was a exchange when I was in 5th grade, over a call in a kickball game. I know now what I was supposed to call my friend after she called me a cracker but I thought she was making fun of my white face with freckles so I responded with […]
Rosie W. Tucson, AZ When I was in the third grade in the sixties, my best friend and neighbor was Joyce, who was Japanese. She was wonderful. When my mother found out, she let me know, albeit gently and with compassion, that my father would be terribly hurt by my friendship because he had fought […]