Ashamed to be White

Linda Koch, Fennville, MI Knowing what was done to Africans was bad enough, now after reading about the removal of native people from their land here in Michigan and elsewhere, as well as slavery of and cruelty inflicted on native people, it makes me feel ashamed to be of the Caucasian race even though I, […]

The house I did not build

Adam Paberzs, Ann Arbor, MI. Understanding Race Project- University of Michigan Here are some other 6-word essays that you may use under my name (I know that’s probably breaking the rules – just wanted to share if nothing else). Whiteness. Welcome to the real world. Not who I thought I was. Fear. Guilt. Shame. Courage. […]

American is NOT a race.

Morgan Rockhill, Edwardsburg, MI I work at a doctor’s office, and there are many patients who put down that their race is “American” instead of white. It often confuses me that there are still people who see America as a white citizen country. Yes, America is predominately white, but America is also very diverse. There […]

Don’t believe everything that you think

Jim Schultheiss, St. Johns, MI. I have always felt that I needed to be very careful and thoughtful on issues related to prejudice. Growing up in as a white, heterosexual male in a community largely lacking diversity, I learned I needed to listen very carefully to the thoughts and experiences of others and not impose […]

Biracial by birth, Black by choice

Kimberly, Detroit, MI. I was just listening to Talk of the Nation with Celeste Headlee discussing Navigating The Lines Between Ethnicity And Identity and I could relate to notion of being biracial and adopted into a white family and having to explore my identity through education and exposure to other black people. I’ve learned that […]

Acceptance, like art, comes in all colors.

Harold Rice, Ann Arbor, MI. On Location: University of Michigan The University of Michigan has the 8th most international students in the country, which causes all of it’s students to be both accepting and interactive with cultures far different from their own. I came to the university from a town that was 99% white, and […]

You can’t be mixed your dark

Myla Ledesma, Westbloomfield, MI. My mother is African American and my father is Puerto Rican. Me and all my siblings are biracial, we all look alike the only difference is their light skin and I’m brown skin. We all have medium length hair. Anytime I’m with them we get ask are we mixed and when […]

Father failed his brown bag test.

Derrick Warren, Baltimore, MD. I remember my father talking to me about his college days in Missouri. There was this fraternity on campus that would require their prospective pledges to pass what was said to be a brown bag test. Essentially, if you were darker than the brown bag, you could not get into the […]

Please don’t ask me to jig.

Zee Brennan Grand Rapids, MI Often times when I share with people that I am Irish, many people aren’t surprised and demand that I dance a jig for them. Although I am also an accomplished Irish dancer, it feels as though there is an assumption among many Americans that all Irish know how to dance […]

Sheltered friends. Life is not effortless.

Mary Beth Bergeron Rapid River, MI I am white. I have lived in Tidewater, VA and a highly diverse college town in southwest Ohio. My husband and I have just moved home to the UP of Michigan after 32 years away, homogenous and familiar. I am reminded of how effortless it is–regardless of your race […]

We Created Race, Then Change It

Brent Vuglar, Houghton, MI. Just like any controversial subject where people do not see eye to eye, people tend to be close-minded to others opinions. This development of tension plants a seed of anger to one another. I myself grew up in a not so very diverse suburb, and when I was younger I believed […]

Black, but I don’t fear police

Rinard, Holland New Tech High School, Holland, MI. Yes I feel there is an issue and a relationship gap between black men and police. It’s unfortunate what has been going on in our nation lately. I agree black lives matter and I can see how one may think they don’t given the recent sad events. […]

When people ask… What are you?

Naomi, Grand Rapids, MI. I am an American, of Mexican decent… No, I don’t speak Spanish, no I don’t know where my family is from in Mexico… My Grandparents and Great-Grandparents were born in Texas… I grew up in Gary, IN around mostly Black people… people don’t know what box to put me in. How […]

What if this climber were Trayvon

James Edward Mills, Madison, MI. At the young age of 14 Kai Lightner is doing amazing things in the world of sport climbing. In the spring 2013 he ascended exceedingly difficult routes that included Southern Smoke (5.14c) and Transworld Depravity (5.14a) in the Red River Gorge of Kentucky. On the same two-week road trip he […]

Equity is nice. Justice is better!

EduTechDiva, Wayne State, Detroit, MI Equality is not good enough. Equity is what most are striving for now, but justice is what’s necessary and way too many folks are afraid of what this actually means. It might mean that those who’ve had the institutionally established ‘upper hand’ for a while now, experience the injustices that […]

Really? Are both your parents Indian?

Shevon Desai Ann Arbor, MI My parents emigrated from India to the US over 50 years ago. In terms of ethnicity, I think of myself as South Asian – but in terms of race, we are officially Caucasian (my family are Parsis – Indian Zoroastrians whose ancestors originally came from Iran). Race and ethnicity for […]

We joke, but it’s not funny.

Pauline Devlin Ann Arbor, MI Understanding Race Project- University of Michigan This is in reference to my friends and I. I do not believe any of us would consider ourselves racist, so I feel bad when I hear people casually perpetuating stereotypes.

Born Norwegian, Raised American, not illegal

Linda Kristensen, Grand Rapids, MI. I am writing this for my daughter who is 34 with Autism. She became my daughter in 1980 when I was living in Norway. We returned to the USA in 1983 but my daughter even after 30 years is still not an American citizen. Here’s part of her story…. My […]

Plants, birds, people – celebrate life’s colors.

Rose Mary Prifest, Wayne State, Harper Woods, MI If there is anything important I learned in my lifetime, it’s acceptance of peoples’ differences. The key is education. It is opening your mind and heart to learning what makes people who they are. We may not agree with how they worship, whom they love, and how […]

I knew one side of racism.

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 […]

Dear Ebenezer Baptist: I still cringe

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 […]

51 years of history was unlearned

Brandon M. VerBurg, 8th Grade Holland New Tech High School, Holland, MI.   I love to study the past, and history is filled with turning points. Points that change the world. One that is being missed often is Civil Rights. Back in 1964 the movement was passed. It was passed so that race wouldn’t be an […]

I’m just stuck in the middle.

Alexis Berry, Wayne State, Detroit, MI Being Biracial is really a challenge. Being half black and half Arabic makes me feel like I belong to neither race. Many people look to their own race as somewhere they belong, but it’s the opposite for me. Since I’ve been young each race makes me feel like I’m […]

Black and Beautiful with Breathtaking Strength

Sidni Sera Goodman, Wayne State, Eastpointe, MI Being black in America is more than just challenging. There are so many highs and so many lows. I dealt with one day feeling black and proud, seeing how other cultures love my culture, style, flair, music, etc., then other days, I see how my black brothers and […]

Your race, my race: human race.

Chell Robinson, Wayne State, Ypsilanti, MI I wish it could be as simple as that. But until we’re at a point where one’s ancestral origin no longer provides disadvantages or advantages to their life, I acknowledge that it’s just not that easy. I hope we get there, and soon.

Will they ever stop fearing us?

Nicole D. Riggs, Inkster, MI I believe racism is rooted in fear. In the case of Whites versus Blacks there is fear of our ability to thrive, survive and excel despite all that is done to keep us from doing so. Even with their feet on our backs we manage to rise.

Blinded grandfather gave granddaughter excellent vision

Nicole, East Lansing, MI. My grandfather was blind all my life. All I knew was that there was an accident. It wasn’t until he passed that I learned that the accident involved a white man. My grandfather was a doorman and was pushed into the glass door. My grandfather never spoke of the incident. I’m […]

I’m white my daughter is black

Jennifer Berkemeier, Farmington Hills, MI. I’m a single mom. I adopted my daughter from Haiti in 2012 when she was 4 years old. I’m white, and 15 years older than most of her friends’ moms. We get a lot of stares and unwelcome comments from little kids (“Is she your grandma?” “How come you’re different […]

Because I married a white man

Patricia Osborn Grand Rapids, MI People are always surprised when they see me. My last name doesn’t. “match” how I look. Although my parents are awesome and didn’t think twice about any of their children’s spouses race , my aunts and uncles made so many comments ranging from me not wanting to be a true […]

Army-wide, we were all green.

Christine Cook, Wayne State, Ann Arbour, MI When I was in the Army, diversity was important. So was looking past color differences. At the beginning of basic training, the drill sergeant insisted we were all “green”–meaning the color of our uniform was more important than the color of our skin.

Stereotypes are a result of laziness

Christal L, Wayne State, Detroit, MI Instead of getting to know people, some find it easier to put people into boxes. Black = bad. White = good. Mexican = illegal, etc. It’s sad. Get to know people. Skin color gives a hint to who a persons ancestors could have been. It says nothing about the […]

We are one big human race.

Austin Crutchfield, Wayne State, Detroit, MI We may differ in skin color, but we are all low-key one and the same. Genetically we may be very different or very similar or somewhere in between. Everyone has a different fingerprint even twins though. I think once we strive to find the many ways we relate to […]

Race- term that now ruins America

Steven Jones, Wayne State, Detroit, MI Race is a word. Since its a word, it can be used in different ways. Currently, race is widely (not only) used to express differences resulting in the lack of continuity among people.

Puerto Rican. Mexican. Caucasian. That’s me.

Carissa Renee Chacon, Wayne State, Detroit, MI Born with the curliest, thickest dark brown hair (well now it’s auburn). Hazel eyes that have green and specks of gold. Skin white as snow. There’s always been a push and pull situation regarding my ethnicity. Most people don’t believe me when I say I speak Spanish fluently. […]

Shouldn’t matter so much in America.

Brandi Jones, Wayne State, Detroit, MI Growing up as an African American in America is exhausting. We are supposed to be the land of the free where you can be who you are. Instead black people who are born here are treated worse than immigrants. We are not terrible people just because we are a […]

Self segregation in classrooms baffles me!

Sandy Yarrington, Wayne State, St. Clair Shores, MI I am always amazed at how far we have come, but I am frustrated at how far we have to go. It disturbs me that in many of the classes I have taken, the black people all sit together. The white people sit together. The foreign students […]

My Voice Matters No Matter What

Tamia Davis, Wayne State, Detroit, MI No matter how bad this world gets, my voice and space will always matter and be valid. If I don’t have space or feel like my voice is being silenced, I will continue to fight to create a safe space for people like me that feel like they don’t […]

The only reason I was arrested.

Mignon Lott, Wayne State, Detroit, MI. My boyfriend and I were out on M59 heading to an event that he was catering when I was flicked. I pulled over. The officer walked up to the car and asked did I know why he pulled me over. I said no. He said because I didn’t have […]

Colorblindness is Racist…

KKC, Wayne State, Detroit, MI The problem is not color, it is the way we treat people of other colors. When your white, you are seen as the “norm” so when you say you don’t see color you are taking away what makes them different and special to make them more “acceptable” white

See my humanity first, race second.

Sylvia Stancil, Wayne State, MI While I will concede that these mere six words may represent an oversimplification to addressing extremely complex issues, recognizing the humanity first in anyone is a good foundation upon which to build open and honest dialogue. There is a thread of commonality that should serve to bind us provided one […]

Have Pride in your European Heritage!

Caleb Boc Steele, Wayne State, Trenton, MI I’ve seen a lot of things recently that allude to white guilt or white privilege or other things like so I’d just like to remind people to have pride in where they come from, no matter where. I think all people should have pride in their heritage and […]

BLACK AND FAT WHICH WAS ENOUGH!

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

Proud to be me!

Jacob Russell, Wayne State, Detroit, MI. I’m proud to be me! Because I am unique and am like no other. Race should not divide us because we are all human and that’s all that matters!

God painted the world in color

Cassidy Capoferri, Wayne State, Macomb, MI Growing up Catholic and in Catholic schools, we were always taught that God loves everyone, no matter what. He created all people equally. It was so simple when I was younger, but the older I get, the more I see people ignoring this. It doesn’t matter what religion you’re […]

We must look past our colors

Sally Schmitt, Wayne State, Detroit, MI. It can be very hard for people to learn to look past the color of someone’s skin, but we must make the changes necessary within ourselves to do so for humanity.

We All Deserve Better Than This

Matthew Wisotsky, Wayne State, Detroit, MI It’s 2018. LEADERSHIP is failing us. WE are failing us. We’re still going to war oversees and in our own streets over things that we’ve already gone to war for oversees and in our own streets. The nightly news highlights our setbacks. Leaving the last 30 seconds of the […]

Back into closet, fear of unemployment

Luke Flint, MI Coming out in college was an amazing thing. My family accepted every part of my life. The man I met and have been with half way though college is my best friend and hopefully life partner. We now live together and I currently do not want to bring co-workers to hang out […]

Invisible to the census but here

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

Color Doesn’t Matter. Tell My Boss.

Tina, MI. These six terms are my experience as it relates to every work environment I’ve encountered. I’ve been successful whereever I’ve worked and am now busy doing the “enterepreneur thing” (successfully). My employment experiences have all been the same. Single black female, alone in a sea of white as if no other qualified blacks […]

White skin is the best camouflage

C. Badour, MI. In America today, the best way to fly under the radar is to be white. Assumptions are made about blacks, asians, and hispanics based purely upon race, which cannot be said about whites. Non-whites seem to stick out in America, as if being white is considered a social norm and being non-white […]

Grace, pride, dignity, honour, love and light

Seydi, Detroit, MI. While growing up in Senegal some refer to me as dark as the buttocks of a cauldron, iIwas proud to be as dark as the stone of the Kaaba filled with love and light, often i dreamed to be blue-black as those vailant fishermen Lebou, Niominka or Guet-Ndar tauting the Sun Ra […]

Mexican girls don’t need a Quinceañera

Yadhira, 8th Grade Holland New Tech High School, Holland, MI. My friends and cousins tell me that I need to have a Quinceañera and I tell them I don’t want a big party with everyone dancing, Some of my family members say I should have my quinceanera at Mexico, but I don’t want one I […]

Apparently, I’m Jesus, or a terrorist.

John Abraham, Grand Rapids, MI. Thanks to my Italian and Lebanese heritage, I am blessed to say I have a fairly full beard and curly brown hair. However, these two attributes have granted me two common nicknames: “Jesus” or “Terrorist”. I suppose I look like many modern-day depictions of Jesus and when I’m referred to […]

Drowning in generalizations; floating on truth

Alexis Ford Ann Arbor, MI Understanding Race Project- University of Michigan As an African American, I have several generalizations placed upon me. Some people just assume who I am. I am rarely asked. While a lot of these assumptions hurt, I know the truth. I know only my own actions and words define me. I […]

Identity is the root of suffering

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. […]

White, but can’t have Mexican family?

Jade Weber, Holland, MI. When my grandparents come up to visit, and we go out people always ask if my grandfather is related to us. My whole family is white, but my grandfather is Mexican. My grandmother married him so, he is part of my family. Sometimes when people ask we can tell they are […]

Listen First. Pray Next. Speak Last.

Eric Nykamp, Grand Rapids, MI. My sense is that as white people, we too often choose to react or retreat from conversations about race because they are difficult to have. If we keep doing this, we don’t really make any progress. Yes, it is painful – for everyone. However, there is more beyond the pain. […]

“Privileged” kid meets Black men – golfing

Jim Scherrer Northport, MI I grew up in Grosse Pointe Woods …. All Caucasian community born in 1950. Around 1960, give or take, I attended the Detroit Free Press sponsored golf school. When you completed the classes, you received a card that allowed one to play at any of Detroit’s city courses for 25 cents! […]

People assume my daughter is adopted.

Rebecca Schwarzlose, Roayl Oak, MI. I am white and my husband is Indian. My daughter has my husband’s complexion. When we are together as a family people assume that she’s mixed but when I’m out with my daughter alone (which is most of the time) everyone assumes that she’s adopted. People ask me where she’s […]

We’re Here Walking Each Other Home

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 […]