Nelly Shulman, Russia I am Jewish, Russian. Finnish and German. I have a very strong Jewish identity and no less strong Russian identity and they have always been very difficult to reconcile. Living with two cultures inside is incredibly difficult. I teach both Russian and Hebrew and can never say what am I at the […]
Erica Jameson, Ashland, OR. My parents adopted five muti-racial children, something unheard of in the rural mountain town we lived in. Between being confused about being different, to occasional thoughtless racism, the line “You can pass [for white]” still makes me uneasy. Does this mean that I should want to? I still don’t know.
Lulu, Depew, NY I understand that race is significant. I understand that it’s such a big part of people’s identities. I’m just wondering: why should it? We don’t have to see everything through a racial lens. Not everything is motivated or affected by race. I just think it’s more divisive than anything. Race is a […]
Michel Bassadon, White Plains, NY. I was born in Morocco. My mother was Austrian and my father Jewish Moroccan, known as Sephardic. In high school some of my peers said my accent was French, others said it was Spanish. They decided I was from Monaco, especially since my first name was French. For a long […]
Jim Schneider, Long Grove, IA Despite being a 58 yr old, white male raised in an all white, rural community in central Illinois, nothing will warm my heart more that seeing America making significant progress towards ensuring that ALL Americans (regardless of ethnicity, gender, identity, religion or any other means of sorting us out as […]
Anna Murphy, MA My Mother is Mexican and Slovak. My father is Irish. Many applications and census options only give the option for “Hispanic,” or “White, not Hispanic.” I will never select either of these options. By my freckles, fair skin, and name alone, no one would ever think I had Hispanic blood, but my […]
Sadia Rodriguez, Round Rock, TX. If I had to limit myself to a single identity, I’d say that I’m a mother of twins above all else. Sure, I’m also a business analyst, a blogger, a divorcee, a permanent resident of the US, a holder of British and Bangladeshi passports and a former US Army wife. […]
David Stoddard, USA Our current obsession with racial identity and group identity is not making our society better. Our commonality as Americian citizens has been lost by many in the rush to be defined by our race or group. Or as in the case of some shame for their racial heritage. It is sad that […]
Megan Medrano, Houston, TX. Growing up Latina in south Texas, I have always been surrounded with rich culture. My home was filled with both the English and Spanish language and I was encouraged to live both my Mexican and U.S. Latina identities. I did not realize how important an ethnic identity was until I came […]
Joseph Miller, USA In the Twitter thread that brought me here, NatGeo published two pictures of white people. Both of the six-word captions for these people included the word “ashamed.” All of the non-white people had captions that were variations on victimhood jeremiads. I reject both of these mentalities. The victimhood mentality so enshrined by […]
Katie R. Phillips, Green Mountain, NC. I might be white, but growing up in the Southern Applachians is definitely its own ethnic identity. I didn’t truly understand this until I went to college, and brought friends home with me for the first time. One of my friends actually asked me if my family was inbred […]
Yaz, Chicago, IL Growing up, my parents separated and with that came two different homes. In one home I was “too” Puerto Rican and the other I was “too” Argentinian. In one home I was forced not to speak about one ethnicity and in the other home I was forced not to take pride in […]
Ryann Williams, Trinity University In a lot of ways, having two parents of different racial/ethnic backgrounds allows a unique insight into both cultures. It can be extremely enlightening to see how both sides can be so different and yet so similar at the exact same time. However, there is always this feeling as if I […]
Riley, Salem, OR Being Chinese and the only POC in an entirely white family has been incredibly harmful to my self-worth and cultural and ethnic identity. In no way am I saying I am not grateful for what opportunities I have been given. However, in their efforts to make sure I never felt “different,” my […]
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 […]
Barry, MN. As a black man, who – though I hate the phrase, acts very “white”, I feel as though you have act a certain way to fit into society and get less harassed. I don’t act white on purpose, it’s just who I am; how I was raised. Nonetheless, this “act” shouldn’t have to […]
Jesse Ponnambalam, Bolingbrook, IL. When I see most of the people I know; they all somewhat fit into a specific group. Some may identify as a “skater”, a “Anime Nerd”, a Brony, a “Jock” a “set specific identity here” kind of mold. Now I know that people have more than one Identity, But I never […]
Elias Miller, Richmond, VA This is a variation of the famous Shirley Chisholm quote. I feel like so much of the corporate training in diversity, equity, and inclusion has the wrong focus: it teaches us to make generalizations about racial or ethnic groups and to remember those generalizations when we interact with others. The intention […]
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 […]
Justina Adarkwah Christchurch, VA I’ve always had a problem with identity, but ironically I realized it was me that thought I had a problem, it was society, my community, everyone else who had an opinion about ‘what’ I was and who I should be. I’m not sorry to let everyone one know that its not […]
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 […]
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 […]
Jonscott Williams, Gilbert, AZ. This is the question either asked, or thought but unasked, by people both Black and White. This is connected to the assumption that one of my parents is White … neither is, though an early ancestor was. Some Black people have questioned whether I was “Black enough” … some Whites have […]
Val’Dionna P., San Francisco, CA. Throughout the years it has been a bit difficult to understand the many emotions and stereotypes being of color and mixed. It is important to understand that how one is raised growing up in a complex world that continues to critique someone on the features or melancholy of their skin […]
Sheri Baxter, Washington, DC. Race and identity are things that are so essential and important to who you are as a person. But also it’s not. Because when we meet people, friend people, love people, help people, work with people….those who live without hate and bias do all of these things without any consideration of […]
Rosita Gonzalez, Madison, WI. I am not who I seem. Roads converged to make me a person of three races, of which only one sticks. My children only identify with the one that sticks. But I cannot tell them much about that race that defines them. I blog about it to examine and heal both […]
Jeanine Flier, Tujunga, CA. I am a mother of 3 multiracial children. They all have different types of hair. My oldest son has a very curly large beautiful Afro . My middle child as wavy thick hair similar to mine. My youngest child has large black curls. My oldest child is the ONLY ONE WHO […]
Jennifer Wong Cernak, Chester, MD. I have been listening to your race-card stories for a long time and heard the topic of mixed race come up again and again. In the past identity has been a struggle for me, but now I feel comfortable with who I am. There were many days, growing up, I […]
Meah, Raleigh, NC I see too many times, people faking their support for minority groups when they want to come across inclusive. Once they are surrounded by people, they are “comfortable” around; they reveal their true identity as racist and noninclusive. It is convenient for them to be able to hide in a place they […]
Amber Nicole Gutierrez, Hemet, CA. Everyone grew up with a different life-style, just because I look of Mexican decent does not mean I am the same as every Mexican stereotype. I am an American and have grew up in the middle of both worlds of “American” and “Mexican”. I understand Spanish and speak some. I […]
Jeremy Martin, Cincinnati, OH. My 7-year-old daughter about the only African American girl on her cheer team. How do we move past skin color as an identity, even for children?
Catherine, USA I was raised to treat others with respect, no matter their appearance, but it’s difficult to when my identity is destroyed because so many fear “whites” as a result of the few bad ones within the race.
Janel Ruehl, Bend, OR I’m a white American, but that doesn’t mean much to me. It doesn’t feel like a fully fleshed-out identity I can inhabit. “White” doesn’t connect me to any songs, or celebration. It doesn’t taste like any certain food. It doesn’t offer me any tradition for how to come of age, or […]
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 […]
When I entered high school, I quickly learned terms like white privilege, white fragility, and microaggressions, which challenged my identity. While I understood I benefited from white privilege, I did not like the label. Still, the racism embedded in our institutions and the frustrated feelings of my friends motivates me to want to be part […]
Yasmin Agudelo, The Colony, TX. I love this project. I’ve seen so many thoughts and statements that reflected my own experiences growing up as a child of immigrants.
Christi Perkinson, Red Wing, MN. My mom is full blooded German so I’ve always known that I was half German, but the other half was a mystery. My dad’s side is quite the mystery. His Father was born in the south while his Mother was born in Canada. Both sides came over to the U.S. […]
Josie, Houston, TX Most of my life, I had not given much thought to my racial identity. I never really thought about myself as a “white person” or what it meant to be white, unless I had to fill out a form for school, a job, or standardized tests. It was just a label with […]
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 […]
Natalie, Seattle, WA. My grandmother never got to pass for white. She was sent to indian boarding school. 50 years later, I grew up in white suburbia, where no one assumed I was Native or even mixed-race. I self-identify as Native, I speak Chahta, I participate as a tribal citizen, I carry on the family […]
John Kwong, Mesquite, TX Growing up an Asian American in Dallas, TX, I often heard the words of ignorant people say “All Asians look the same,” “Chinese, Japanese, Korean… what’s the difference?” To be truthful, these words hurt. Associating all extremely different ethnic groups into a single title. Our backgrounds, our culture, and our family […]
Linda Bronstein, West Hartford, CT The Jewish people have been the target of hate for thousands of years, in just about every country in the world. My parents’ generation in America faced restrictive quotas when applying for colleges and jobs, and “restricted areas” when looking for homes to rent or buy. But in post-World War […]
Jazmine McKinney, Winter Garden, FL. Yes, I am black. No I am not angry. I actually smile all the time, and I get odd looks because of it. I guess I don’t act like people think black girls should act? Yes, I love Disney. I honestly don’t like rap music all that much. I love […]
Ryan Harrell, Holland, MI. Our adoptive son, Tagg, clearly is not a biological member of our family. In his two years with us we have encountered the entire range of reactions from loving acceptance to ignorant comments to outright disgust and disdain. But through it all, the fact is that we represent the new reality […]
R. Flowers Rivera, McKinney, TX. The most aware I’ve ever been of race was when my family moved from Gulfport, Mississippi, to New Fairfield, Connecticut, during the 1980s. At that time, New Fairfield was a town with a population of about 10,000 in which there were three Black children, all of whom were in my […]
Anonymous, USA Growing up I received comments on my olive skin tone. I grew up within a white family and culture. Many curious people often ask where are you from? I reply Florida to only receive “yeah but like where is your family from?” Having previous knowledge and the help of a DNA test I’m […]
Jennifer Evans, Albuquerque, NM So often people bring race in as a deep part of someone’s identity or use it as a reason for their inability to be a part of a group or a part of a culture. The truth is that while race can be a big part of someone’s identity it is […]
Elizabeth, USA. In the novel Invisible Man, a black man in 1930s America struggles to find his identity. He starts out as hopeful and naive, believing that his hard work, determination, and intelligence will lead to eventual success and happiness. He does not realize, until the end of the novel, that the white characters and […]
Shari L. Burgess, Wayne State, Detroit, MI How dare I be black and then choose to be fat. Elephant, Big Nose, Whispers and Out loud comments. At 58 tears still falling, still looking for the b in black to be beautiful and f in fat to be fabulous
Cayla Olson, Duluth, MN. I have always felt that I had to qualify my racial identity with those six words. I am part native, my mother being Ojibwe and French, and my father being Oneida and Irish. We lived on my mom’s home reservation, and it was never any mystery to me as to what […]
John Calloway, San Francisco, CA. I have been struggling with being a mixed race, multi-racial, muliti-ethnic identiy all my life. Belonging neither here nor there. I mean how can you be Filipino-American with a name like Calloway?
Jonathan Aaron, Owings Mills, MD, As a Jew, I have always been intrigued by how Hitler twisted Jewish identity, indicting Jews as having bad blood and thus being an impure race requiring extinction. In the summer of 2015, I visited Berlin and discovered a fascinating art exhibit that challenged people’s notions of identity and asked […]
Dana, San Antonio, TX. Around the world, my white skin and my blonde hair make me easily identifiable as an American. This superficial categorization has lead me to wish that people took the chance to get to now me for who I am, rather than making assumptions about my character. In return, I challenge myself […]
Clara Chun, Los Angeles, CA. I’m a Thai-Chinese, Korean, White girl. It’s about as confusing as it sounds, but I refuse to not acknowledge a single part of my identity. Because all of it exists.
Kristi Webber Las Vegas, NV Growing up, there were several clues and incidents which occurred over the years which hinted at some sort of non-European ancestry in my mother’s background, and which would eventually lead to me pursuing her family’s ethnic roots. I had heard vague rumors of “Cherokee” blood but had long ago dismissed […]
OTI OBOH New York City, NY Brooklyn I’m Nigerian born raised in the US and find my fluidity in my identity as Nigerian, as American and as Nigerian-American flow in the different spaces I occupy. The Civil Rights allowed for more expansion of African people to occupy different parts in the world.
Zoë McLaughlin, USA. Waiting in line for the Chinatown bus in New York City, a man approached me and began speaking Spanish. I squinted at him and briefly pondered my response. This was not the first time someone has expected me to speak Spanish. As soon as I began making forays out of my predominantly […]
Susan, Boulder, CO. I’ve been going through something of an identity crisis recently. I’m 31, of mixed race (1/2 Mexican and 1/2 a mix of European). Although my mom was born in Mexico and is fluent in Spanish, I wasn’t raised much in the culture because I grew up on an Air Force Base in […]
Weston Mui Bellevue, WA I’ve always felt white, yet to my friends, I’m Asian. My racial identity is often confusing, even to myself.
Isabella Thomas, Philadelphia, PA. My name is Isabella Thomas, and I’m a student currently attending Central High School in Philadelphia. The concept of ‘race’, to me has always correlated with ‘color’. Or perhaps an erasure of identity. I am not simply white, just as my peers- my friends- are not simply black, or Asian. I […]
NIK BANNISTER Houston, TX Louisiana epitomizes how race and education interfere with opportunity, cultural identity and upward mobility.
Sheila L. Davis, Spring Valley, CA I identify as Filipina-American. But, rarely do people see the Filipina in me. I have to declare it or speak Tagalog. A co-worker described me as ethnically ambiguous. In the U.S. I may be “ethnically ambiguous” but in the Philippines I am “mestiza” and just by virtue of my […]
Ana Canino-Fluit, Penfield, NY. I am Puerto Rican, I lived in Puerto Rico till I left for college at 17. Till I was 16 I had never given much thought to racial identity. My senior year in high school I was selected to be a exchange student to our sister school in southwestern New York […]
Zizi Greenberg, Los Angeles, CA. Your race is your race, yes. But you are your own person independent of your race -unless you choose to let your path be made for you.
Ninasophia Stowe, Riverside, CA I am mixed with Black, German and Mexican. Growing up I was very confused about what it meant to be mixed. I didn’t feel fully accepted by the Black community because I didn’t have enough black features, was called the “black friend” around white people and didn’t speak Spanish so felt […]
Aida Verri, New Orleans, LA. You are not ugly, pretty, stupid, smart, strong, weak, violent or calm because of your “race”. Your skin color isn’t your race, isn’t your culture, isn’t your identity.
Natalia Lopez, Los Angeles, CA. Growing up in East LA and being told I was one of the “good children”, I played into the identity that I was and will always be an exception to my peoples inferiority. Striving to be more like the white girls I saw on television made me feel like I […]
Josh Benjamin, Philadelphia, PA. Almost nobody ever guesses me to be a black-white mix. This has led to numerous identity issues for me in the past. Now, however, I feel blessed and enjoy my background without calling attention to it.
Lora M. McManus, Altadena, CA. Plain and simple. No ifs, ands, or buts. “What if you just haven’t met the right guy?” No. “And where are you really from?” No. “But you’re a woman…” No.
Phyllis W. Allen, Fort Worth, TX. I am a sixty year old woman who has lived through segregation, integration, Colored, Negro,, Black, African American, segregation, marches, integration, Pan Africanism, opulent consumption, financial catastrophe and now I’m just me.
Autumn Segrest, Highland Heights, KY. As a white woman from suburban America, it can be hard to understand the struggles of the countless people who were not born into whiteness. Their experiences with racism and prejudice shape their identity as much as my privilege shapes mine. But through education, whether it be traditional schooling or […]
Kye Gordy, Lubbock, TX. I am branded white by my appearance, but I go much deeper. I am overlooked because my appearance blends into everyone. It is tiring and makes my identity lost. Texas Tech student. 2013 OTC Symposium.
Scotty, Detroit, MI. Race is real. Sometimes, it is also necessary to play the role we are born into. Most of the time, however, we don’t need to look at the world through a racial lens. This causes judgement and suffering because of who we take ourselves to be. What you see, you cannot be. […]
Sabrina Fairchild, Canada. I’m a little disconcerted by how negative this sentence sounds, but it seems to accurately reflect how I’ve been characterized all my life. I’m trying to find new ways to describe myself (as biracial, as Eurasian) that provides a single, coherent identity.
Matt JP J, Tewksbury, MA. My grandmother’s father was from Puerto Rico and she never knew him very well. She grew up as Irish with her Irish half siblings. My grandmother likes to view herself as Italian and Irish, rather than sharing her Hispanic heritage with her children. This is due to feelings of abandonment. […]
S. Dreyfuss, Novato, CA. Sometimes I call myself The Last Unicorn, after the silly 1980’s movie about a unicorn, the only one of her kind, that goes searching for evidence of others. Growing up with the unusual combination of Samoan/Ashkenazi Jewish, I’ve always wondered if there was anyone else out there like me. Any single […]
Raquel Diaz, Miami, FL. I’ve used this protocol in workshops before and it was quite reflective to see that I identify with being Cuban (cafe con leche) American (side of bagel). I am proud of my Cuban parents leaving behind everything to give us a better future in America. I love being Cuban American!!!
Amanda Baran, Arlington, VA. “No, I’m not Mexican. Nope, not Latino. I’m an American who’s half Syrian and half Indian. Well actually, my father’s former nationality was Syrian. His parents were refugees from Turkey who were expelled during the Armenian genocide. No, they weren’t Armenian, they were Christians who were forced out and into Syria […]
Brian Davis, Ph.D., Holland, MI. Holland New Tech High School, #newshps
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 […]
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 […]
Leonard McReynolds, Atlanta, GA. I’m a black Puerto Rican who lives in the United States. At Times, it makes navigating race relations difficult, for everyone likes to put me in a box. Either I am not black enough because I speak Spanish, or not Puerto Rican enough because I am black. However, I will not […]
Rena Joy Dunbar, Eugene, OR. Our Black and White bi-racial identity was questioned even before we emerged from the womb. What ‘race’ would we turn out to be? Which ‘race’ would we choose? These questions and the dual nature of our identities continue to challenge perceptions.
Kaitlin Reed, Poughkeepsie, NY. I am a Yurok Indian. We are the salmon people and my ancestors have lived by the Klamath River in northern California since time began. But after centuries of continual sexual conquest against Native American women, I am not the color of Pocahontas. That’s right, I’m white-skinned and Indian. This hasn’t […]
Latoya Baerlocher-Turner, Newport News, VA. It’s fun watching people attempt to imagine my face from my name. My first name is notably of African American origin, but my last name tells a different story, so people don’t know what to expect. And it’s always the same vice versa when people who’ve met me, learn my […]
Anonymous Athens, GA Centuries ago, on the Horn of Africa, where my parents originated, Arabs crossed the Red Sea then crossbred and/or raped the indigenous Africans. This event has confused generations of “my” peoples’ sense of identity. I pose the question to my mother, “What are we?”, to which she responds, “Look in the mirror. […]
Kristen Ellerbe, Richmond, VA. As a mixed child, I have never felt at home with any culture. My mother was born in the Philippines and my father was an airman stationed there. They are wonderful parents who are absolutely in love with one another. I am one of three children, the middle child and only […]
Chuy Benitez, Houston, TX. When you grow up at the collision of two countries, of two cultures, of two identities, you learn very quickly the different nuances between the two cultures and you adapt to appease whichever culture you have to encounter. It makes you more observant, but of course it doesn’t occur without making […]
Anon Ymous Charlotte, NC “Replaced slavery chains with entitlement chains” As a white with guilt, all I can say is: I’m so sorry, twice…
Hisham Jabim, Reston, VA. I am a Muslim borne and raised in Palestine. I am married to an American woman name Rebekah and we have a three year old daughter Hanna. My wife and I lived in the middle east together for almost 10 years and now we moved to Northern VA. Bekah is a […]
Walter Harris Gavin, Sarasota, FL. Walter Harris Gavin is the author of The Autobiography of Obsidian Dumar, a novel of identity and creator and producer of Race Across America: Inconvenient Truths, Uncomfortable Conversations a web series if visual essays.
Tomas Sanchez, Forth Worth, TX. It’s so easy to choose any single part of you to define your identity. When you have more than one, they all become just details.
Katy Carpenter, OH. I recognize that we don’t live in a color blind society, but race is never something I felt was central to my identity, and has no biological base. It never came up until I moved to the Bay Area and people started associating this idea of whiteness as a central component of […]
Yesenia Chavez, Houston, TX. I’m a first generation Mexican- American, born and raised in Houston, Texas. Sometimes it feels like I’m too in between both identities to really feel like I’m either. My Spanish isn’t perfect and sometimes I forget words in English.
Daryn Crowell Denver, CO I am a US citizen but my family moved to Peru when I was two years old. Basically my whole childhood was in Peru. I grew up with much of society telling me I could not consider myself in any degree Peruvian and that I was from the U.S. However, in […]
Janine D Herrera, Rancho Cucamonga, CA. When beginning this exercise, I almost regressed back to my old thinking habits. I came up with the six-word phrase, ‘English language no Spanish still Mexican.’ However, I realized I was going back to what I was delivered from. I used to struggle with my identity. I am Mexican […]
Jessica Eaton, Minot, ND. My maiden name is “Hess” and carries a lot of weight for being a “Nazi name”. Growing up, other students in school would call me a “Nazi” because of my last name and distant relation to a couple of people who took part in the Nazi regime. I didn’t like it, […]
Rebecca Hassine, Palo Alto, CA. With racism being such a prominent issue throughout the world, especially within the United States currently due to the hostile political atmosphere, I always feel as though I need to defend my race. Defending my race, in other words, is like constantly needing to defend my identity. No one should […]
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 […]
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 […]
Madysen Phororo, Corona, CA. South African dad, and white mom: I’m pretty ambiguous in terms of my race. There were questions I got in high school along the lines of “Do you think you’re more white or black?”. My mom was told that I’d have to choose what race I was when I went to […]
Joy Owopetu, Manassas Park, VA. What does this even MEAN? I have heard so many times that I sound like a white girl from the valley. It has caused me to experience unfriendly behavior from coworkers who thought I wasn’t “black enough” and I have gotten outright laughed at in public by ignorant individuals who […]
Alfida Cruse, St. Louis, MO. Growing up half Dominican and half Missouri German (white) constantly left me feeling not white enough for the white kids and not Dominican enough for the Hispanic kids. I have been called out and subsequently shunned when my mother picked me up from school in Arlington, VA (“you’re WHITE?!”) and […]
Carlos, Beloit, WI. What does an American Look Like? The real question is, “what was the intentional look of an American.” America is a history of exclusion and Labor needs. Immigration laws were molded in exclusion, but the need of minority work has changed what an Americans looks like. For they were part of responsibility […]
Ian Peterkin, Bridgeport, CT. When you think about it, what do you know of the achievements of black Americans other than what you get in February? Virtually everything I’ve learned about black art, literature, culture, and religion, I learned on my own. Cut off from one’s cultural identity, point of origin, and the stories that […]
Christina Mayes, Richmond, CA. The constant revolving question in my life is, “What are you?” Let’s take care of this question now. My father is Peruvian and my mother is Irish-Italian. My father left when I was three, so for most of my life I felt like he left me with no culture or language. […]
Karen Plascencia, Los Angeles, CA. Our last names have a lot to disclose about our identity, but often times it is a gateway to preconceive notions of what we should look like and who we must be.
Epifanio Rios, Philadelphia, PA. My name is Epifanio, I am a fourteen year boy who attends the high school SLA. I probably know as much about race as the next guy but I think race is perceived differently by everyone. To me I think race can’t only be defined through your skin tone but were […]
Molly Lai, Milford, NH. I was terrified of travelling as a child because I hated people asking if I was adopted. Or the more frightening question: Is this woman really your mother, you can tell me the truth? I am half Chinese (and looked more Chinese than English as a child) with a red-haired, blue-eyed, […]
Mason Colquitt, Athens, GA.
Deborah Gonzalez Carmichael, CA My daughter identifies herself as a Jew + Cuban + American. Being a Jew is more than a religion; it is an ethnicity, and per Hitler, a race. And for some reason “Cuban” has its own box to check on the U.S. Census; not Latin American, Caribbean, Hispanic etc. I’m not […]
Heather Thompson, San Francisco, CA. While travelling to Mexico for one week, 5 separate people asked me if I was Cuban, 1 asked me if I was Portuguese (including one American!). I speak beginner-intermediate level spanish, but am Biracial (black, white, and a smidge of Native American). My white friend travelling with me was not […]
Seema, Chicago, IL. Women already have identity issues because of an extreme and over-sexed image of women in Hollywood. Additionally, women of color are marginalized because of their under-representation in TV, movies, magazines and advertising. As an Asian-American woman, I see very few Asian men and women and when I do see them, we are […]
John Coffman, Rocklin, CA. I used to believe that we all were heading somewhere. As a kid I loved Star Trek: The Next Generation, a TV show about a future where humanity had progressed to a point where all cultural/religious/racial/political/financial/identity barriers had been dissolved and everyone (except for those less “evolved” alien races) was able […]
Gregory, Philadelpha, PA. As a Polish immigrant in America I have been faced with many challenges, but one that has always seemed most challenging and bizarre was issue of being white and being treated by others as a minority. As long as people didn’t hear my accent I would fit in, but once my identity […]
Kelly C, Los Angeles, CA. My husband is Japanese and I look “white” though I don’t really know what I “am” because my father was adopted. Our kids are wonderful, beautiful, happy pre-teens. Growing up in a diverse and inclusive place, they have friends from a variety of ethnicities, religions, and social classes. But in […]
REPOST FROM: KPCC December 17, 08:21 PM Abbie Fentress Swanson | KPCC After 13 years at NPR, Michele Norris is dropping the microphone. The longtime public radio personality and former “All Things Considered” host says she is leaving NPR at the end of the year to focus on growing The Race Card Project, which she […]
Steve Harris, Honolulu, HI. As a Caucasian looking individual in Hawai`i many people make assumptions about who I am, what I’m about and where I’m from. It’s taken me years to fully acknowledge my identity as a secular Ashkenazi Jew. I grew up with much anti-Semitism and the tendency to hide behind my “White” exterior. […]
Cassandra Coats, El Cajon, CA. I grew up in a very multi-cultural school where being white was the minority. I was never teased for it, but I felt like I was missing out. I spent most of my childhood wishing I could be Asian, or Native American, or speak Spanish, etc. Sure, I have red […]
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.
Jamie Lee Myers Jacksonville, FL Many people seem to identify who they are by their race. We also all seem to have a tendency toward making assumptions based on how people look. I am fair with naturally red hair that is currently blonde. Most think I am Irish and that is in my family tree, […]
Brian Murray, Seattle, WA. Growing up it was always hard to find my own identity because I came from a bi-racial background. I am half Black and half Japanese and always had problems being accepted by either racial group because of my uniqueness. Although coming from a low-income housing development called the Rainier Vista Projects […]
Janetta Stringfellow Brookline, MA Tons! Grew up in Cape Elizabeth, Maine in the ’70s with a white mother who denied I was adopted. Found my birth mother when I was 31, who is also white, but at least had a story about a Kenyon grad student she hooked up with on her 18th bday in […]
Anonymous, Knoxville, TN. I’m from the Mountain South, where white privilege and racism take on a range of meanings outside the mainstream. I’ve heard our regional identity described as a kind of “otherized whiteness,” and I think that’s about right. Whatever else we were, we always knew our whiteness was the wrong kind. That’s what […]
Claire Berman Boston, MA I am a white woman and didn’t begin to understand my racial identity until I was in my late twenties. The more I learn about racism and its intersection with other systems of oppression, the more I realize how little I know and how far we have to go. So now […]
Andrea Alexander, Rochelle Park, NJ. The constant dilemma of “boxing” your identity when your category is not among the selections.
Bettina Sferrino, Oakland, CA. As a mixed race person, I get these questions all the time. The persons asking have a strong desire to know and place the “other,” and a feeling that somehow the persons asking these questions can’t move forward interacting with me without knowing that information. I can’t help but think for […]
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 […]
Allen Greiner Lumberton, MS I had to spend time on a battlefield to finally see where we as a race were headed. It amazes me now, that that was what it took to rearrange my priorities. Scary how hardheaded we are as a species.
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 […]
Mac Los Angeles, CA My children grew up in southern California and attended fabulously diverse schools that frequently featured “Heritage Days” where the school children were encouraged to wear clothes, and bring in food and other articles representative of their ethnic background. From their earliest years, my kids found this confusing. What were we anyway? […]
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 […]
Anonymous Kennewick, WA Being Latina, with a white name, but in knowledge of my Latino surname. I try to be supportive of my friends with their biracial and transracial adoptions, but it is so hard. I have suffered and struggled so much with my identity. People have such good intentions, but the children suffer. Then, […]
Anonymous Being of mixed race can make a person feel out of place, and lacking of identity. My friend and I were talking about which race we feel closer to and he said to me, “white people think I’m Asian, Asian people think I’m white.” of mixed Asian and white I do feel similar. Being […]
Senju Rajan USA My race is a collision of yelps, yips, of shrieks, Carnatic Punk Rock: Alan Vega smashing a raga over my head. I’ve been bombarded all my life, their immigrant hopes and dreams warring with my domestic aspirations, collateral between my shoulders, rubble strewn across shattered streets once paved with gold, now unrecognizable, […]
Alethia Grace Cyrus, Tulalip, WA. My most striking experience of my own internal “like me is normal” sense came midway through reading The Ear, the Eye, and the Arm by Nancy Farmer. The front cover shows the protagonists, two of whom are Black. The story is set in futuristic Zimbabwe, and I’m pretty sure I […]
Ty Pethe, Seattle, WA. For better or worse, we are social creatures that innately create groups of people like us. Whether it’s race, nationalism, gender, sex, ethnicity, economic class, sexual preference, religion, culture, age, sub-culture, political identity, philosophical identity, geographic identity, etc., we all tend to find value in our own (shared) identity. It tells […]
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 […]
Adriana M., Canada. How about being the only-child black sheep of a Colombian mother and Irish/Ukrainian father? My mom could pass for Italian, but her Hispanic legacy is strongly expressed in me, all wrapped up in an Irish surname. I grew up without much diversity and didn’t even realise I looked different from everyone else […]
Jennie, Los Angeles, CA. I am 4th generation Chicana. My mother is Mexican-American and my father is White. One of the saddest things is to be rejected in relationships or see as different from your significant others’ family. I find that Mexicano families do not understand the history of Mexican-Americans. Someone I dated pointed out […]
Barbara Joy Newlin, Apache Junction, AZ. Race, like age, seems to tell you all you need to know about the person in front of you and leaves you in complete ignorance of the person in front of you.
David Pham Poughkeepsie, NY When I was young, my mom told me a macabre anecdote about the Vietnam War. She remembered that American soldiers would go through villages in search of Vietcong. As they went through, they would ask villagers in English if they were indeed Vietcong or not. Some villagers, though they did not […]
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 […]
Deme Yuan, Denver, CO. (reference to my own racial identity development)
Stacey Rosana, Lake Elmo, MN.
Erin Powell, Washington, DC. “Are you sure your dad is really black?” “If you imagine her with curly hair, you can tell she’s mixed.” “You look straight white, nothing else.” “Ugly half n*****.” Just a taste of the both disparaging and conflicting comments I’ve received on my YouTube vlog about my personal experience being biracial. […]
Scarlet Louis-Jean, Syracuse, NY.
Lynn P., Raleigh, NC. My mother is white and my father is black. I am light skinned and proper speaking but not white enough in skin tone. I do not think I should have to choose a side, so why as me to? I wish I was more white skinned, then I would feel accepted. […]
Joseph Ratner, Morrisville, NC. This is interesting because as a child friends would ask me what I was nationality and I always said Jewish. As I got older I had to evaluate the reasons and now at half a century old I think I get it now Being Jewish is an identity. we have Jewish […]
Brenden Gartner, Tampa, FL. Being Cuban is not a bad thing. Embrace your Race because that is what makes you who you are. Its a big chunk of your identity. Who cares what people think about your race? That’s who you are. If your embarrassed about your race then you will never figure out who […]
Felix Brooks Jr., Kalamazoo, MI As the father of a biracial child I told my daughter not to let anyone place a label on you. You get to choose for yourself . She took me up on that, and owned her own choice, and never struggled with who she was as a person .
Darcia Schweitzer, Columbus, WI. When I feel guilt related to the white privilege I experience, I sometimes wonder if the only way to truly eliminate that guilt would be to have a different racial identity other than white.
Lauren Maldonado, Athens, GA. I’m white, I know that. But, I have no idea what race I am. I can’t include myself in a certain group. I cannot sympathize with a certain group of people and I cannot judge a group of people because I might be the same race as they are. I’m in […]
Naveena Karusala Alpharetta, GA The day every person of color can be themselves and display their cultural identity without being hated for it is the day white people can “borrow” from other cultures without being hated for it.
Adrienne Crew Los Angeles, CA I’m always troubled about the concept of being an “Oreo” and not really projecting an “African American” identity but rather always being the upper middle class nerd that I was born and refusing to “code switch.” What is “Black” anyways? I get this comment both from whites and non-whites.
Nancy Rawn Storrs, CT I have been so proud of my beautiful boy for all of his 20 years. He struggled with so many high school identity issues but it has been especially painful to watch him struggle with the big question of “Who am I?” in this white community and white family. He has […]
Alondra K. Poindexter Arlington, TX I am a doctoral candidate at Texas Wesleyan University. I am currently working on my dissertation “Cultural Identity and African American High School Teachers: The Impact On Their Instruction Of African American Students In Texas”. Less African American Teachers = Lower African American Student Achievement? Segregated higher academic achievement, integrated […]
Christina Lewis Halpern New York City, NY The strange thing about race in the western world is the strong need to put people’s identities into boxes. I have a complicated identity, which led to people helpfully telling me what category I fit in, including making up some words to describe me. I’ve chosen to describe […]
Kristen Milwaukee, WI As a white, middle-class lesbian, I often focus conversations regarding diversity around how I am a part of the subordinate identity. I talk about the struggles that I have had and how I have worked to be proud of my identity. But, because of that, race is largely missing from my discussions […]
Mikah Broken Arrow, OK A lot of people are surprised when I tell them I’m Mexican… I’m light-skinned with dark hair and it disappoints me that it’s hard to get a dark tan or that people can’t tell. I’m proud to be a Mexican American and I’m still finding my identity as a person and […]
Nathalie Gregoire New York City, NY Brooklyn All my life I have been judged. When we see black people we automatically think they are thieves. When it comes to whites we think they are perfect. So many times we try to hide our identities, our race in order to fit in with society. But when […]
JS CA Brought up to believe my Mexican heritage was secondary to my white heritage. Didn’t learn Spanish, didn’t learn culture. As a young woman I identify with being Mexican only when I am allowed to. For example, on a jury questionnaire, I check “white” because I fear I don’t have “enough” Mexican ancestry to […]
REPOST FROM: IN NEWS / BY EMILY WILLIAMS / ON APRIL 2, 2014 AT 12:00 AM / National Public Radio host and author Michele Norris will speak about race in America on Wednesday as a part of the Blackburn Institute’s Frank A. Nix lecture series. Norris, who previously hosted the NPR news show “All Things […]
Netanya Stein Caldwell, NJ You cant pretend to be someone you’re not. you are who you are; our background shapes a large part of our cultures, traditions, and day to day life.
Rosie Vasen New York City, NY
Melissa Johnson Brooklyn, NY With the continual killing and imprisoning, marginalization and exploitation of the black individual–blackness as an identity is loved and hated all while being continually othered
Sonali Miller Portland, OR
Dianna Pategas Sandy Hook, CT I’ve always felt a strange longing for more cultural identity. My family doesn’t have strong traditions or ties to any particular heritage which has left me with a certain emptiness. I marvel at people who have strong racial and cultural identities. I think this is why I have an appreciation […]
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 […]
Casi Scheidt Carbondale, IL It’s come to my attention that, throughout my life, others sometimes assume that my racial identity as white means that I can’t or shouldn’t have input into racial issues. More than once, I’ve been confronted by individuals claiming that my whiteness means I’m inherently racist, and that I’m treating “their people” […]
Adriana Green Richmond, VA Cornered in the grocery store, back pressed against stacked cans and rows of condiments – “But where are you really from?” On the subway, walking home, hair grabbed by a stranger in a pale coat – “What are you?” I spend my life defending my identity. The constant questioning: but, where, […]
Kayoko Mathews Seattle, WA
Sarah Seattle, WA Growing up biracial in a small, conservative, and rural town often left me feeling like I didn’t belong. No one could fully relate so I was shy and reserved. As I grew older, I realized that being biracial and bicultural is a gift that enables me to connect with a broad spectrum […]
Jeffery J Jaekley Bolivar, MO Race matters. It shapes our identity, yet it is not the whole of our identity. There are elements that are common to the experience of any racial group, yet these are not universal to all members of that group. I’m bi-racial–white and Native American. Among whites, I’m often the darkest […]
Douglas Rice Fruita, CO I struggled for four decades to find some sort of racial identity…I’m bi-racial by my DNA, but having been raised in white culture where white people called me black I’ve never identified as white, and having been raised in white culture I didn’t “experience” black culture so I don’t Identify as […]
Victor Bradley Nashville, TN Often the discussion about racism is constructed as a problem with race. As if the problem isn’t with the majority’s racist attitudes, the problem is the existence of minorities. “I don’t see you as Black” translates as “I don’t see you as Black, because if I did, I’d have to either […]
Pepetua Isabel Havea Eugene, OR
Albert Toronto Who are the real Americans? Why do we have African Americans, Asian Americans, Chinese Americans, Korean Americans, but not English Americans, German Americans?
Lance Remington Stuart Rood Redlands, CA Sometimes I feel like I have no identity. White american? what is that? Irish? German? Dutch? Danish? I want to be able to identify with those around me. I love learning about people. Their heritage, traditions and culture. By knowing someones race or races I can then proceed to […]
Anonymous Chadbourne Residential College
Rachel Crooks Tallahassee, FL As a woman with a Mexican mother (“Mexican” to signify “mixed race,” although my mother has been identified by some as being Native American or Filipino or ‘Asian’) and a Jamaican father (his ethnicity is never questioned, though his nationality is reduced to ‘African American’), I grew up in a strange […]
Peggy Person Cleveland, TN I have always been so disappointed in “America”, for labeling bi-racial, or mixed race children as one race or the other. I am a white woman, who has had to listen to society brainwash my child into believing that he can be accepted as “anything but white”. I raised him to […]
George Williams Albuquerque, NM Read THE OWL
Joel Wasinger Wylie, TX By all appearances, I’m “white” and I was raised in white middle class America. My biological father was Hispanic (my relatives on that side are mostly pale, like me). My dad, the man who raised me, is part Native American. My wife’s son–now my son–is black, technically mixed race. And there’s […]
Chandra Craven Boston, MA As a future mother of a biracial child and as black America I get insulted when someone says they don’t see my color. Unless you’re legally blind, my race is an attribute (like hair and eye color) but it is also my heritage and has helped to build parts of my […]
Carmen Bunkers Velazquez Pomona, CA I have always loved being with my mom’s side of the family, the Velazquez family. I think they have always felt safe because I identify myself through my mom’s racial and ethnic identity, Mexican American, and so with them I feel that I can be who I really am. Knowing […]
Jacob Addington Fort Collins, CO The race issue is kept alive by statistics and surveys which constantly tell us that we humans fall into different groups, and by our own willingness to accept race as part of our identity. Is having pride in one’s own race any better than hatred for someone else’s, or is […]
Matthew Cline Saint Charles, MO
Merrisa Hall York, PA This is an awesome project.. This allows people to be honest and make others aware that RACE should be discussed. Some people don’t like to discuss Race because it make them uncomfortable but guess what I don’t like being judged because of my race. Thank you, Michelle Norris.
Lagaria Farmer Springfield, TN This was hammered into me starting in the 7th grade – mostly by other black kids, but it extended to family members as well. As long as I like hard rock/metal and goth/industrial music, sound like a blond Valley Girl, date white guys and enjoy academics, I’m not black enough. Outwardly […]