You don’t look Latina, prove it.

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

I’m White, but sometimes kinda brown

Max Haverhill, MA I’m an American with mostly German and Italian backgrounds. When the warmer months begin, I tend to get tanner than many friends of mine, likely because of the Italian background. I have been confused for other races in the past; there’s a photo in my home of me an my African-American cousin. […]

Educated Puerto Rican can’t even dance!

Carmen C. Brenes Jette, Ph.D. Lexington, MA “What! You don’t look Puerto Rican!” was my other choice. I wanted to convey the power of stereotypes – how burdensome they can be and how tiring it is when you have to explain yourself, educate others constantly. Going beyond people’s expectations can be so freeing (I am […]

Racism takes many forms and colors.

Catherine Marenghi Marblehead, MA My family is white, and I was pleased to find no slave owners in my past — but I found a slave. The American Revolutionary War was fought with the help of slave soldiers: Hessian (German) soldiers were forcibly taken from their homes an sold as slave soldiers to King George […]

Hispanic name in a rural town

Elena Rodrigues Houghton, MA Living in a small town in the UP of Michigan and having a fairly Hispanic name can sometimes bring out the worst in people. Sometimes it shows how some people view a person from a different background in a negative way and other times it can be positive. I have been […]

No touching her hair, always mine

Maggie Whitman Boston, MA My African-American friend freaks out whenever anyone asks to touch or play with her hair, but she is always coming up and playing with my hair (and other white women’s hair) without asking. I don’t want to say anything… but it seems hypocritical.

Race is Fiction. Racism is Fact

Byron Parrish Boston, MA The idea of race is a fiction. There is no basis in biology for saying there are different races. Our ideas of race are a social construct, historically made up to support the unequal privileges and disadvantages that occur because of racism. However, racism is a real aspect of life in […]

My “Black Experience” doesn’t threaten yours

Louisa Etim Cambridge, MA I often get frustrated with the notion (held by people of all races) that there is a single “Black Experience” and that by not fitting into this box of “acting Black” I am somehow shunning my race and orchestrating some malicious plan to intrude on a lifestyle that should not be […]

But you don’t have an accent!

Sonia Boston, MA When people look at me, I clearly look Hispanic. So much so that many are surprised to hear that I speak perfect English, with no accent at all. Once I was told, “Wow, you speak so well!” I was born in Boston, educated in Boston, worked in broadcasting and took voice an […]

Ambivalent, because my family owned slaves.

Charles H. Sides Westminister, MA I always felt superior because my great-great grandfather Sides was conscripted against his will or support into the Confederate Army, deserted, was captured by the Army of the Potomac, and imprisoned at Elmira where he died. Then, as I learned more about my personal genealogy, I discovered that every other […]

Multiracial: Acknowledge Every Part Of Me

Kayci Baldwin Cambridge, MA For more than 7 years I have worked as a Multiracial advocate with Project RACE and Project RACE Teen. One of the main goals of this work has been the appropriate inclusion of Multiracial people on any forms that require racial identification. Ultimately, my goal is to eliminate the resilient “or” […]

Only one race – the Human Race.

Barbara Dean Great Barrington, MA This is such a painful subject for so many people, but I believe to my core that there really is only one race, and that someday we will get beyond all the conflict, misunderstandings, racism, and pain and realize that we truly are brothers and sisters.

I was born because of racism.

Chelsea Lowe Boston, MA In 1959, my mother was engaged to marry a man who wanted a black best man at their wedding. Even though my grandfather had made a point of drinking from “colored” fountains when the family drove south to Florida, this was–you could say–beyond the pale. “I can understand an old family […]

Only one black in my school

Bob Blizard Acton, MA Growing up in western New York State in the ’50s, there was only one black kid in school. I remember our First Grade teacher answering a question from another kid in my class about why Tommy’s palms were light colored by saying “God made them that way so we know all […]

What opened my eyes: “flesh-colored” bandages

Irene M. Pepperberg, Swampscott, MA. I was in high school, a racially integrated one, in the 60s, discussing racial issues with a contemporary black woman, an honors student, headed for a fine college. I asked her why she was so angry, what kind of discrimination she felt, living in a middle class community, going to […]

I hate that there is hate!

Mark Babbitt Clayton, NC I was born in 1954 in Western Massachusetts. I was raised to be color-blind. I still remember a friend of my father, who was black, came to our house in the late ’50s and had a reel to reel recorder. Thought that was the coolest thing ever. The color of his […]

I am Afro-Caribbean, not African American.

Tracey Lincoln Needham, MA I am a proud Jamaican immigrant who was raised in that tiny island until I was eighteen years old. There, we have rampant classism, but racism – in a country that is over 90% black – is not something I had to deal with until I went to an elite small […]

Sorry we don’t service that neighborhood

Ingrid Monson Newton, MA I’m white but lived in a black neighborhood in Chicago for part of the 1990s. I tried to get a plumbing firm from a nearby white neighborhood to come and clear a sewer pipe blocked by a tree root. Everything was fine until I gave him the address of the house […]

“Everyone’s a little bit racist….” – Avenue Q

Lyn Needham, MA Edward R. Murrow said that we are all racist, i.s., we make judgments based on race (color, religion, gender). He said the solution is to be aware of it, thus to remake our judgment. One would hope that that would become the mental habit. The lyrics of the song quoted above include: […]

I’m not half white, still mixed.

Brandi Artez Boston, MA I’ve had this debate a lot over the years, where usually white people, will tell me that I’m wrong to consider myself bi-racial, because I’m Black and Latina. It’s the craziest thing. Someone actually said to me that since White is the dominant race in the US, unless I’m half white, […]

Check: White… Wait, I’m Hipsanic too?

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

Can’t be colorblind and see me

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 […]

Is this what racism feels like?

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

Cute baby. Where is she from?

Susan Fentin Conway, MA My son and his wife had their first child in April 2010, a beautiful brown-eyed baby girl with a head full of dark brown hair, whom they named Laila. Her complexion was a delightful coffee color, a blend of her dad’s fair coloring and her mother’s Indian ancestry. Since I knew […]

Korean, but I don’t speak Korean

Cliff Song Medford, MA I’m a Korean-American. My parents are from Korea. I was born and raised in Southern California (recently moved to Massachusetts). I spent some time teaching English in South Korea and traveled throughout Asia. Throughout my travels I’ve been asked by expatriates and locals to explain my origin but the complicated answer […]

Native? Not according to the government

James Sandborn Boxborough, MA If a person called themselves an African American and someone asked if they could provide a genealogical search at your own expense to prove they were a direct descendant of an African slave from a list of government approved and documented slave sales or they could not legally call themselves that […]

Are those boys your biological children?

Wendy Allmendinger North Attleboro, MA I was asked this question far too many times to count when my children were little. I am white, my two beautiful boys are black. The question was often followed by, “Not that there is anything wrong with that.” Depending on my mood at the moment, my answers ranged from […]

I want to be like you

Michael Manning Somerville, MA I was bused in 1969 to a school in Roxbury, Mass., and was myself discriminated against because of the color of my skin. I was white and most of the students were black. I couldn’t understand their anger with me, I didn’t know that I had done anything. All I knew […]

But you don’t look Puerto Rican…

Paul David Mena Wayland, MA As if a Puerto Rican can’t be fair-skinned, middle-class and college-educated! Granted, I was raised by parents who looked for a life as far away from their Depression-era upbringing in Brooklyn as possible. They found it further east in suburban Long Island, where I grew up with zero consciousness of […]

Race doesn’t define me, actions do.

Kai Brown Boston, MA Often times I feel that as soon as people see me, they label me as a certain race and adjust their expectations of me according to the stereotypes of my race. If you have to judge, please judge me by my actions and not my skin color.

How do you know my race?

Dominique Brager Mount Hermon, MA I’m white but I’m half European. My father is American and my mother is Belgian and they are totally different cultures. People look at me, hear my accent and assume that I’m all American and I don’t like the ideas the come with that. Americans have somehow managed to get […]

Black boyfriend visited, Nana called police

Cynthia Moore Northborough, MA My sweet kind misguided fearful grandmother called the police to report a potential dangerous intruder in the house when my black boyfriend first came to visit where we lived downstairs. The doorbell rang and the police asked me to step outside. They then went inside and confronted him. I thought I […]

He must look like his dad.

  Rhonda Kaplan Hyde Park, MA I’m sorry for submitting another race card, but I figured out how to make the same statement more elegant in six words. We are a multiracial family–I am white and my husband is black and Asian. When my son was a baby, (white) people would often make this comment […]

Didn’t sound Chinese on phone

Jenny Braintree, MA I used to work at my dad’s Chinese restaurant answering the phone and taking orders. One time a man came in to pick up his order and was shocked that I was Chinese. He out right told me I did not sound Chinese when I was on the phone with him taking […]

“Angry Black Woman”? Damn Right- And?

Katrina MA Last time I checked, yes- I am African American. Last time I checked, I was a Woman, and last time I checked I had a lot to be angry about, as should every other American citizen. Although years away from having a 17 year old son (Trayvon Martin), how am I supposed to […]

Really? But you don’t look Mexican…

Andrea Z Boston, MA We need to face what is uncomfortable and finally realize that we are all Human together. We cannot take the next step until we acknowledge “others” as “like us” and not like “them”. I consider myself an earthling, a citizen of the world, a mutt and I am proud of it. […]

I speak English better than you.

Janette Santos North Quincy, MA I was at the local grocery store mulling over which yogurt to get, when a middle-aged woman came up to me. The first words out of her mouth were, “Do you speak English?” I was so shocked at the time that before I could even get a chance to respond, […]