You’re Guamanian? You’re whiter than me!”

All my life, people have mistaken me for “races” that I am not: Mexican, Hawaiian, Filipino, Indian, Brazilian. I was always flattered because I thought this meant I looked exotic and “different,” I wanted to look different. I didn’t want to look “haole,” our stolen Hawaiian word for “white.” That’s when I uncovered the implicit bias that I lived with all my life. I noticed the explicit bias that existed in my family. My aunt shunned my niece and nephew because they were half Black. She would refuse to give them money for Christmas because they were “as black as the ace of spades,” and that meant, to her, that they couldn’t be trusted with her money. That never made sense to me. What was even more puzzling was that she was so loving toward me and my son, yet she showed a palpable prejudice against my 9 and 5 year-old relatives. I learned later that this disdain against African-Americans was taught to her my her father who learned to be racist from his father. Racism is taught and handed down, and it is up to us to break the cycle. I will remember this and confront my inner feelings that tell me being “exotic” is better than “looking white.” Recognizing our bias is the first step.

Race is not real: The consequences of creating races are.

Race is not biologically real; it is a social construct; We are all, in fact, one race. According to the American Anthropological Association, a group of the most well-educated anthropologists in the country, “Today, scholars in many fields argue that “race” as it is understood in the United States of America was a social mechanism invented during the 18th century to refer to those populations brought together in colonial America: the English and other European settlers, the conquered Indian peoples, and those peoples of Africa brought in to provide slave labor.” This unfair and unfounded categorization of the human species was created by the human need to create a hierarchy among races. Therefore, racism created race. Evidence from anthropologists who analyzed genetics (e.g., DNA) indicates that, “Most physical variation, about 94%, lies within so-called racial groups. Conventional geographic “racial” groupings differ from one another only in about 6% of their genes.” This means that we are not “racially” different, after all. Throughout history whenever different groups have come into contact, they have interbred. The continued sharing of genetic materials has maintained all of humankind as a single species. Although race may not exist, the consequences of race as a social construct do exist.


Tweets by Michele Norris