I don’t want to live a life characterized by anger. It’s why I write, why I move, why I leave. It’s why I value reconciliation, resolution, and reflection. It’s why I don’t watch movies with Samuel L. Jackson, Gerard Butler, or Kristen Stewart. It’s why I don’t listen to music by Ariana Grande, Justin Timberlake, or Cardi B. It’s why we need to have a conversation about race: I don’t want to live a life characterized by anger.
I hope you’ll stay. I hope you’ll join me.
1. Perspectives on Race #1: “Black, Muslim, and Tired”
Written by Nora Nur with Love From The Other Side
Black. Female. Muslim. Chicago.
“But as the schools became more black, new problems developed for me. I was too white. I pronounced my words “too white,” liked too many “white things,” and acted “too white.” Being light-skinned didn’t help. White students assumed you were a “safe” black person. Someone they could ask pseudo-racist questions to because you weren’t really black. Black students greeted you with the “you think you’re better” because you are light-skinned. In short, junior high was cultural torture– filled with bullying and identity confusion.”
White. Female. The Midwest.
“When I moved from the Milwaukee area to Slinger, I was bullied and was often called a ‘wigger.’ I had to ask what that meant. Even though I was white and EVERYONE else in the new school was as well, they had clear thoughts about the way that I was living in their world.”
Black. Female. Muslim.
“Race matters because we make it matter. Even if you want to live a life where race doesn’t matter, if you are brown-skinned, I think it’s dangerous to not at least acknowledge that other people think that it matters very much, and they will make decisions that affect you based solely on the color of your skin. So if you don’t want to be blindsided, it’s best to be aware – doesn’t mean you have to adopt those same beliefs, but understand when race is a part of that current equation.”
Mixed. Black and White. Female. Christian.
“I describe myself as mixed. This is the term my mother primarily used to describe my sister and me when we were growing up. As I got older and did my own research, it was the term I became most comfortable with. While I will sometimes refer to myself as biracial in order to clarify my identity for others when they express confusion about my own terminology, it is not a label I use for myself often. I always use the language of black and white in reference to myself as well. This is mostly due to the racist roots of the term Caucasian and the nature of the term African American, which I do not feel is broad enough to accurately describe my family history.”
White. Male. Houston.
“That I’m white/Caucasian really has no meaning for me, simply because it doesn’t create any problems for me in this society. When I was in China, yes, being white/Caucasian certainly did change how others saw me and how I saw myself. Events of the past five years, in particular the murders of Trayvon Williams, Tamir Rice, and so many other occurrences of discrimination and injustice, have certainly made it very clear to me that people of color experience life in America very differently from what I experience. I’m shocked every day by some new shooting of an unarmed black guy … , and then I have to realize that it has been happening all my life but I didn’t know about it.”
Trinidadian. Mixed. Male.
“When describing my background, I often mention that my four grandparents were from four countries– Trinidad, Grenada, UK and Venezuela. Mixed is a powerful enough word for me. Trinidad is a very mixed and mixed-up place where national identity is tied to inclusive cultural celebrations and identifications.”
Black. Male. New Jersey.
“In some respects, everybody is going to treat you differently. Hopefully you’ll be respected, but you can’t count on that. That may not have anything to do with race, but it could. You have to fend for yourself.”
White. Serbian. Female.
“I must say that historically, all those stories about the abolition of slavery have resonated most with me. The fight for equality… impacted my perception of the world and filled me with hope and fear at the same time. Hope, because their sacrifice was worth it, and that mankind had taken a step forward. Fear, because it had to take so long, and so many people were opposed to it.”
Puerto-Rican. Female. Indiana.
“My race matters to me because although I look one way on the outside, I clearly identify with the three races that “make-up” a Puerto Rican: African-American, Spaniard, and Taino Indian.”
Korean. American. Female. Christian.
“They had a hierarchy and order of preference: 1. Korean (even though there were no other Koreans in our town), 2. White 3. “Other” Asian, and they explicitly said ‘don’t marry’ anyone who is black or Latino.”
- Perspectives on Race #1: “Black, Muslim, and Tired” (Black. Female. Muslim)
- Perspectives on Race #2: Jamie, From the Midwest (White. Female. The Midwest)
- Perspectives on Race #3: Anonymous in Maryland (Black. Female. Muslim)
- Perspectives on Race #4: Cat, On Checking Both Boxes (Mixed. Black and White. Female. Christian)
- Perspectives on Race #5: White Like Me (White. Male. Houston)
- Perspectives on Race #6: James, From Trinidad (Trinidadian. Mixed. Male)
- Perspectives on Race #7: Vern, From New Jersey, “Just My Thoughts” (Black. Male. New Jersey)
- Perspectives on Race #8: Kat, From Serbia (White. Serbian. Female)
- Perspectives on Race #9: Puerto-Rican & Pentecostal (Puerto-Rican. Female. Indiana)
- Perspectives on Race #10: Irene, From San Jose, “Just Don’t Marry One” (Korean. American. Female. Christian)
Let me know if you’d like to be featured in any of the upcoming Perspectives pieces!
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