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But who are you? When you look in the mirror, who stares back at you with eyes full of wonder, mystery, and knowledge? If you had to describe yourself, what community, race, or cultural terms would you use for yourself? When other people or institutions in the community describe you, what racial terms do they give for the complexity of your lived experience? Do you use the same descriptions as others? If not, why do you think there are differences?

What a wonderful opportunity! Thank you so much!

I am, who I am. I grew up in Europe and live in the United States since almost 10 years. I usually don't think about my race, maybe naively, maybe I am just used to myself, maybe because I never was asked to make a cross anywhere regarding race in Europe - I was pretty appalled by this, the first time I noticed. I am white as as such recognizable, I don't think much about my nationality, but here in the US I am always seen as a European. The "tall European Woman", is how I am often referred to at my workspace. While visiting Asia, I was always "the white woman", noone cared if I was European or American, I got so many unexpected compliments for my white skin, and weired, curious looks about my hight. Still, I keep forgetting, that I could be seen as different by others. Close friends, see behind my Europeaness, others don't. In Europe they even made a difference between different cultural groups. Being white is supposedly and advantage, and the older I get, the more I can see, how many subtle ways of racism there are, against anyone who is different. Which could be a landlord, checking if one is white, or sometimes even American. Maybe I can feel some of the disadvantages, while being a woman in a male dominated field.

Thus, as I am have auburn hair, hazel eyes, white skin, a european name and am tall, I am caucasian. Culturally, I am European. I don't care much about my race, and my culture, but are sometimes taken by surprise, when others do.
But I think, there are only few races, but many cultural backgrounds. The race defines our looks, the culture, the way we act and behave.
 

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I'm mixed. I'm black (slaves so who knows? though I do know there is a little Cherokee) and white (Polish, Irish). When people look at me, they think that I'm Hispanic and it pisses me off that people so frequently assume that. Most black people can see the black in me, though some can't, mainly other races make this assumption. I married a black man and my children are 75% black, 25% white.

I don't have the luxury of not caring about race, I wear it on my skin. I am in an angry phase right now about this subject, I've just been dealing with too much racism lately whether its the Hispanic woman complaining about black people assuming that I'll agree or the white man who looks taken aback upon seeing my children and treats me differently thereafter. Of course there are more blatant forms of racism directed towards me, these are just two examples. I'm in the South and this is just a part of the Black world here though many white people would like to think otherwise.

When I look in the mirror I like what I see. But I am very conflicted inside. On the one hand, I am proud to be mixed and all that means. On the other, I am the black mother of black children and am very pissed at the injustice they have suffered this far in their short lives (women at the park not wanting their babies to play with "those black children") and all that they'll have to suffer in the future. And all because of the color of their skin.

So much of my frustration comes from the blinders that seem to be on mainstream America. "She's from another generation" or "That's just how Granpa is, he doesn't mean it" are not valid excuses for racism and I wish more people would realize that.

Because of being mixed, I have had a hard time of it. to white people, I'm black. To black people, I'm white. Stuck in the middle is a hard place to be and I have to admit, its made me bitter. Being white enough to be included in the not so subtle discussion on race where white people laughingly reveal that they too cross the street if they are alone and approaching a black man makes me feel sad and ashamed of being white. Knowing that they could likely be crossing to get away from my husband or children makes me feel hatred. Seeing the white woman clutch her purse tighter when a black man gets on the elevator but chat away with a strange white man who gets on after the black man exits and watching that same white man stick his hand in her coat pocket while she's distracted? Feels like revenge.

I'm very mixed up about my feelings as of late and I hope that this will lead me to a more peaceful path. I don't like feeling so angry all the time and would really like a way to recognize the pain and suffering without constantly hating.
:

So to answer the question, I'm a proud mixed woman. Black and white, neither one more, neither one less.
 

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Who am I? Although I check the box marked "White," I am a first generation American citizen. My dad was born and raised in Scotland. His family struggled to get by, my grandfather was died in a accident when my father was 4 and shortly there after my dad got a paper route. He has held a job every day sense. At 18 when working on the line in a factory in Scotland, he won a scholarship to GMI and moved to America to live the dream. He met my mom, the daughter of one of his profs, got married, graduated with a degree in engineering and went to work for GM. My dad was the first in his family to graduate from college, the only of all his siblings and their children until I graduated.

My mom is the daughter of a college prof. and an English teacher. Both highly educated, she was raised in a middle class, rural home. Expected to go to college, to excel academically. She is the only one of her siblings NOT to graduate from college (she got married and moved to Scotland instead). My mom's family is mostly Scottish and English.

In this culture of fear regarding first generation American citizens, it is amazing what I hear because of how I look. I'll never forget one day shortly after 9/11 when one of my co-workers went off about how you can't trust anyone whose parents aren't American citizens, how they'll allign with the country of their origin, how they shouldn't be able to drive until they are third generation citizens, etc. I sat their and listened to this and replied, "Did you know that my dad isn't an American citizen? Can I not be trusted? I am going to allign with Great Britan should a war break out?" It's different, because with my blond hair and blue eyes, I fit in. I'm of the dominate culture but I've never really found my place.

Early in my life we lived in an inner city, I was one of only a handful of white children in my class. Although I was the different one, it never felt like it as a child. We were just kids and it didn't matter who was white, black or hispanic. We were a relatively low-income family, my dad was in school and working. My mom stayed home. I was in later elementary school when my dad graduated and we moved to the suburbs. What a shock! To be in an all white, upper-middle class school. I heard kids say things about black kids and didn't understand. They didn't even KNOW any children different from themselves. I remember being so mad. Typing this all out really makes me reflect, on my childhood, on how I see myself, label myself now. Thanks for opening this discussion.
 

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When I look in the mirror, I see a black woman. It doesn't bother me whether you call me African-American or Black, but after having travelled to South Africa twice, I don't think I really deserve the former title. I obviously have ancestors who originated from Africa, but I am so far removed that culture, it just doesn't seem completely accurate. My complexion is kinda on the light side (I would be called "high yellow" in my old neighboorhodd) so I know there are quite a few other races mixed in there too.

Race has never been a big deal to me. I am aware of it, and I know how some people can despise you just because of it, but different races, cultures, and communities have always fascinated me. As far back as I can remember, I have always made friends of different races. I remember having a Hispanic friend (can't remember which country) and an Asian friend in elementary school, I really liked this guy from Guadalara in jr high, and I dated a white guy in high school. I ended up going to prom with a guy who was mixed black and white, but he looked way more white than black. It bothered some of my black friends because they thought he was white, but even if he was so what! Let's see, I also dated a Korean guy in college, had a long relationship with a Mexican guy, and now I am married to a white guy.

Another reason I think I haven't thought too much about race is because I have two aunts (they are twins) that are mixed black and Korean. My maternal grandfather was black, but was very, very fair, and my paternal grandmother is mixed black and white. So I guess I have been used to seeing faces of all different shades and features.

I have gotten through most of my life without experiencing too many racially charged incidents. Sometimes I think I may be naive to some things, and other times I choose to ignore them, but there have been a few.

The funny thing is I seem to be so much more aware of race now that I have a daughter. With my mixed heritage and my husband being white, she looks completely white. With blue eyes and blond curly hair, there is not much color there. I love her regardless, but I do get looks sometimes. Not nasty, more curious. I've never been asked if I am her nanny or babysitter, but I have been asked if she is mine. I seem to get that more from black people than white people.

I admit that I am worried about when she starts school and how kids will treat her. I am afraid that she won't be "black enough" for the black kids, but that white kids might not like her either. I am also a little worried because we live in a predominantly white neighboorhood, worship at a predominantly white church and I don't have very many black friends locally. Besides my immediate family, she doesn't get to see very many black faces except mama.
 

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Who am I? Looks wise I am white. Dark brown hair naturally (although I dye it every color in the book), long hair that is thin and kind of scraggly. Dark eyes always covered with my glasses. 4'10 about 160 pounds. Strong cheekbones that could cut glass. I look like my maternal grandmother. I am a young women who looks even younger, while at the same time looking like she is weary. I am tired all of time and it shows. When I look in the mirror most of the time I see flaws. I have a pimple on my forehead; I have dark circles under my eyes; My ears are too small; My stomach too big. I see stretch marks on my thighs and pale pale glow in the dark skin that makes every little imperfection stand out.

Culturally I am Hispanic. That is the box I check when confronted with such boxes. I was adopted by the man I consider my father as a young child and he is Hispanic. Therefore I am Hispanic. I hate checking any of those boxes though. I feel as if I am getting the best of both worlds...I look white but I can claim Spanish heritage. I feel disconnected from that part of my heritage now. I no longer speak the language or live the cultural customs that come with my heritage. I have been shunned by my father and his family because of the color of my skin. My half sister is biologically Hispanic and very much looks it. Dark features, dark skin, dark hair. She is the golden child because of this. That is why I am participating in the conversation about race. I wish to better understand myself and my family so that one day we may all better be equipped to discuss the differences in skin tone and what they mean to us.
 

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I adopted my parents' habit of calling us "American melting pot." I thought that was a good way of putting it, but now I'm wondering if saying that is being a bit ignorant. I didn't have to think much about race because I am white. Pale skin, light brown hair, blue eyes. From the little bit of geneology research other family members have done, I know that 6 generations ago a family moved to the American colonies from Wales and we can follow that line through my mom, her mom, and her mom. My mom's dad's grandmother was Cherokee. My dad's side of the family has been here in the US for a long time too. He was born on a farm in Arkansas. I don't remember anything else off the top of my head (but do find geneology fascinating and think I should find out more!)

I grew up in San Diego. My great grandparents moved there from Nebraska just before my grandma was born. In San Diego, I encountered many colors in people, and race was not a big deal. One of my best friends, since 2nd grade, is an Indian, from Madras. At least, my perception was that I lived in a pretty well integrated multicultural city, and racism was largely a thing of the past. Lately though, I'm beginning to understand how vastly different perceptions people can have.

I am reading this forum with great interest, grateful for the opportunity to learn more about how other people live, and hopeful that the compassion it stirs in me can spread out into the world at large.
 

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I would describe myself as part of the Mothering community, the breastfeeding community and the natural birth and parenting community. My roots are in La Leche League, which was my first support group. Because this community is all over the world, I have had the opportunity to make many wonderful friends, including Karen Salt, a woman I love and admire.
I grew up thinking of myself as Irish and German and mostly identified with the Irish. I am Celtic, and Germanic, I guess. Blue eyes, light skin. White. The term white has always seemed to denote someone other than me: That old, prejudiced white man over there. I think it's because I come from working class, blue-collar roots that I don't identify with the oppressor class. I tend to identify more with oppressed communities, often communities of color. Sometimes, I think I'm a person of color wannabe.
In New Mexico, however, I have come to feel my whiteness more. Here I am an Anglo and in Santa Fe, where I live the population is about 50% Hispanic, 47% Anglo and 3 percent American Indian - roughly. Here I am more aware of myself as a privileged person, a white person in a town with million dollar homes as well as some of the worst poverty in the country. Here I feel a bit like an Other, more ethnically than racially. But, what's the difference, really.
Culturally, I consider myself counter culture, alternative culture, outside of the culture.
Other people in the community would describe me as white and that would not describe my complex experience and yet, I would use that term as well in some contexts, mostly to describe. Why are there differences in the ways we describe ourselves and the way we describe others? I suppose it's The Other thing, the need to figure out where we belong, who is the same as us, who is different. We don't want to be The Other. And, yet, this only matters because many of us are still so segregated by race. Most of my friends, for example, are white and yet, I don't want it that way. How does one experience more diverse community without being patronizing? How do I get a more diverse staff at Mothering?
 

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But who are you? When you look in the mirror, who stares back at you with eyes full of wonder, mystery, and knowledge? If you had to describe yourself, what community, race, or cultural terms would you use for yourself? When other people or institutions in the community describe you, what racial terms do they give for the complexity of your lived experience? Do you use the same descriptions as others? If not, why do you think there are differences?

When I look in the mirror I see two very dark , almost black eyes staring back at me. Shy, nervous, and very self conscious. A small scare above my eyebrow from when I was a toddler. There is a small every present cloud within my eyes that holds the mystery of my past. My knowledge of my past glints like a knife in those eyes as well.

I would consider myself... me. This is so very hard to write. I have Hungarian gypsy roots and I really hold onto what I DO know about it, because much of my family that has that background has died. But I look white. I have occasionally been asked if I have Native American heritage because of my jet black straight hair. I have primarily German roots, but it's the Hungarian I associate with. Most people would simply see me as a white girl with dark hair and dark eyes. Only after being close with me would they make the comment that I had a more olive/dark skin color than previously noticed in first glance. I suppose they could say I lived a privileged life. I however do not view a secretly abusive childhood and emotional turmoil privileged. Many material items? Sure, I suppose. Anything beyond that? Not so much.

I used to view myself as a natural AP cloth diapering mother. But now- while I still do those things, I simply consider myself a mother. No attachments, no catches ... just me.

I was raised Roman Catholic in a prominently Southern Baptist community for much of my childhood. I became an official pagan once I moved out. I believe in the goddess and the god. I rely heavily on astrology and spirit guides.

I don't use the same terms for myself that most people do. Because I am not that person. I am not your typical white rich privileged child. I am a primarily German but significantly Hungarian child who has experienced more trauma than any 21 year old should have ever faced- from emotional, physical and mental abuse to my own child dying in my arms. I am not privileged. I get rejected just as much as others of more obvious color than me at govt offices and in waiting rooms. I have to spend the same amount for gas as my neighbor, the same amount of taxes and pay the same amount of rent. We both have kids, and vehicles, and friends to help when we are down. We are the same- despite what everyone on the outside of our lives think.
 

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I am Latina. I self-identify as either Latina or Chicana. I belong to-and belong with-other communities as well, but I find it tiresome to name them all.

I don't know what racial terms other people use to describe me. I don't ask. I know the government uses the term Hispanic. Recently they have started wanting to distinguish between Black Hispanic and Non-Black Hispanic.

Sometimes people assume that I am white because I have fair skin. Some people tell me I can "pass" as white. Other people say that there is no way I could pass. I am no longer surprised when people talk about me in Spanish, assuming that I won't understand. I love catching them off-guard and responding in Spanish. Usually I see a flicker of surprise and embarrassment, which quickly turns friendly, even complicit, as though, "ha ha, we're all in this together, us Hispanics".

When I moved to northern New Mexico about eight years ago, I learned that Hispano gangs fought with Mexican gangs. New Mexican Hispanos like to distinguish themselves from other Hispanics. Not being New Mexican, I don't belong to the local Hispano community. Nor do I belong to the local white community. But that's fine. I learned a long time ago how to live between cultures.

I have a very common Spanish surname and I often wonder what assumptions people make about me based on that.

I went to an Ivy League university and there were very few Latinos. My name stood out. I was called upon to identify as Chicana, and at the time it was a racially-charged atmosphere. I remember as a freshman being pressured by a senior to starting attending MEChA meetings. It was an unfortunate tactic: instead of trying to discover who I was, and what my interests were, she pigeonholed me and assumed we had something in common. (We probably did, but I never found out. I avoided MEChA until my senior year. Then I was really sad when I realized that I had missed out and had let that one encounter scare me off.)

I remember taking a Chicano poetry class (an unprecedented offering) with a visiting professor. And it was tense, but thrilling and embracing, to discover all these rich, diverse voices in our community. I remember waking up from a dream, crying hysterically, insisting that I was Chicana-defending that I was Chicana. It's the only time I can remember waking up crying from a dream.

I moved to Mexico City for three years after I graduated from college. I wanted to live in Spanish, dream in Spanish, joke in Spanish. But I was the outsider again. Even after three years, when my language skills were superb, people generally thought I was from somewhere in South America...Uruguay, maybe.

When I returned to the US, I was struck by all the white privilege. I was struck by how anglos bragged about being poor and working class. Mexicans don't exactly brag about that-on the contrary, most (my parents, included) work so hard to get OUT of poverty and to give their kids the best education they can afford.

When I told my family about the serious relationship I had with my soon-to-be husband, someone asked, "Es Latino?" Uh, no. He's a white man from southern Ohio with his own stories about race, class, ethnicity, power, and the struggle against being pigeonholed. (We live in a small town where there is a deep mistrust of white people. He is on the receiving end of racism these days.)

Our daughter will no doubt face some of the same identity questions that I did, wondering how and if she "fits". I hope she and I can share some of these discussions, too.
 

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But who are you? When you look in the mirror, who stares back at you with eyes full of wonder, mystery, and knowledge? If you had to describe yourself, what community, race, or cultural terms would you use for yourself? When other people or institutions in the community describe you, what racial terms do they give for the complexity of your lived experience? Do you use the same descriptions as others? If not, why do you think there are differences?
i am constantly learning who i am. i am born bi-racial. i was 'white' for 12 years because that's what they needed 'more' of in the magnet program at my elementry school. but i tried on white for a few years post puberty, and kicked it grunge style, and then i tried on black for a few years, and read eldgridge cleaver and agreed with some of things louis farakhan had to say. at around 17 or so, i finally settled into the happy medium i think my parent were shooting for when they decided to go half on a baby. i am comfortable as a biracial person. i do not feel the need to hyperidentify with one 'side' or the other, as i find that divisive and dismissive of which ever parent i would not be representing. my experiences cannot be summed up with the term bi-racial. but other, other is a term that i've lived with. other taunted me. when we took tests, the kids next to me checked off their color boxes without a second thought. black. white. asian. hispanic. pacific islander. so many colors, so many hues, names for identity that explained, that had roots, and a past and a culture all their own. and then. other. bland. tasteless. colorless. other. i asked my teacher one time, what i was supposed to check, because i didn't think i was an 'other' but she said, other. and i looked at that page. and i looked at that word. and i looked at the teacher who told me to seperate myself. to put myself apart. to make myself other. and i defiantly ground my number 2 pencil lead into the black box. and then into the white box. they sent a letter home with my test results. they asked that my parents have me choose a race, or to teach me to mark other. that marking 2 races at once skews the demographic results. as though, we aren't legion. as though there isn't an army of beige babies staring at their pages of fill in the bubble test questions, and knowing that the hardest one to answer isn't solve for x, but solve for race. i am not black. i am not white. i am not either, or, or other. i am bi-racial. i am both. i am neither. i am a new race. one that comes with it's own sets of stereotypes, prejudices, judgements, inside jokes, heros, villains, words. to me, zebra is more than an animal. it is an insult, an implication. oreos are sometimes too bitter to swallow. i am more than a set of colors combined. i am not the manifest destiny of the future. i am not anything more than i am. and i am a woman, a mother, a lover, a poet, a fighter, an activist, a knitter, a changer of poopy diapers and minds, and i am happy.
 

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Who am I? I am a woman, wife, mother, teacher, activist, board member, researcher, consultant, cook...I am sure there are other labels that fit, but I identify with these.

I am white. I was born to two middle class working parents. My Mom is a nurse and my Dad works in distribution. I didn't know anyone of a different culture until college. I remember taking a class in theory and learning amazing/intereting things about feminism, marxism, deconstructionism and my eyes must have been huge. I had never heard or thought of "white priveledge" before. I read a book written by a woman who group up native american in canada (I apologize...I don't remember her name or tribe, I hate calling people by their heritage rather than there name) who said that she wished white people would just leave her alone. I was shocked...I was shocked until I finished the book and gained a new understanding of what her life was like. I still didn't really "get it" but I had an idea of what she was saying and it really made me think.

My family is mostly German and my husbands family is German, Italian, and Irish. I know very little about my husbands family but know a fair amount of mine. My family is Lutheran and that was a big part of who I was as a child. I remember questioning religion as a youn person but never knew why. As an adult, I would say I am pagan or christian pagan.
 

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I am white. Pretty much as white as they come. I can't dance, I have no rhythm, I admit it.

I am middle class (by the standards of the U.S., rich by the standards of the world as a whole). I grew up in a suburban golf course community in Utah. I always had health and dental insurance, until I became an adult. I had a stay-at-home-mom and my own wheels when I turned 16.

I am a religious rightist and a liberal leftist depending on the day... and the conversation.

None of that sounds like me to myself though - it sounds like the weird voice I hear when I listen to a recording of myself. I hate that voice.

For some reason I have never really been comfortable in my own skin. I believe that is the reason I'm participating in these excercises.

My son is the quintessential mutt. A combination of my heritage (Western European and Scandinavian) and his father's (Slave and Native American). Although he was born in Southern Louisiana, he is being raised in Northern Utah (is it necessary to say opposite ends of the spectrum?).

I have been worried about how I would teach him about who he is... then I realized that I don't even know who I am.

I know that I am more than my race, class, ethnicity, religion, gender and sexual orientation... we all are.

I know that my experiences continue to form who I am everyday... and that who I am every day continues to form the global community.

I know that we can't go anywhere unless we know where we are. Well, I am here... and participating in this excercise to help me understand where here is. By the end I hope to know of you very well, and to know myself even better.

Thanks.
 

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I am a black woman. I come from ancestors who worked hard against their will to build an empire for someone else. My skin tone leads me to believe that I am also the product of the systemic rape of African slaves by their owners. I'll never know the names of those people as they have washed away with time. I only know the names of people imparted to me by my great-grandmother, granny, great-great aunts, and great aunt.

I describe myself as black. I like being black. In my short life time, I have been black, Afro-American, black (again), and African-American. I stick with black though because poets and singers made my community proud to be such. It throws me back to a time when black was a thing of beauty and James Brown sang about being black and proud, when folks lined up to get the breakfast program sponsored by the Black Panthers, when our communities were a place of solace for us.

Now some things have shifted and sometimes, we struggle to see the beauty in ourselves. It wasn't long ago that I sat across from another black woman in an initial interview as her doula. She asked if I had any children and I showed her a picture of my daughter. She looked at her and then went on to say that mixed children were the most beautiful children and that she was disturbed by the fact that she was carrying twins from a black man. There was nothing I could say. I was floored. Somehow, being black wasn't enough for her. There was no beauty in just being herself. She wished that her unborn children were different and that saddened me. I never could even form the words to say that my daughter has two black parents, she isn't biracial. The woman had just assumed. I never saw that woman again because I couldn't work with someone who hated herself and, in that self-hate, she also hated me.

It also troubles me that some people have a set image of what black people are supposed to look like. We are as diverse as the rainbow. I am a caramel brown with dreads and my daughter is fair skinned with curls. I have seen black people who lived their whole lives as white. There's nothing rigid about us: not our color, not our spirituality, not our facial features, nothing. The lines waver ceaselessly.

A lot of others use African-American, but there are still folks like me who are black, though it isn't the most accurate depiction of our skin colors. We are all different colors, but black is comfortable to me. Others may find the term African-American marks some sort of progress and that may be true, but I'm happy defining myself as black because of the sense of community that it brings to mind.
 

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I'm a white woman. There's more, of course, but in the society in which I live, those are the labels that immediately come to mind. My ancestry is Hungarian, German, Lithuanian, and Danish.

My grandma, who is 94 now, sometimes talks about when she was little, and the other children would call her names and taunt her. Her last name was Bauer before she married, and she remembers the children singing "(Firstname) Bauer, sitting in a tower, eating sauerkraut by the hour." She remembers her brother being beat up because he was German. And she laughs now, but I'm pretty sure it wasn't funny then. My Hungarian grandfather also remembered suffering because of his ethnicity, being kicked and hit and not allowed in stores. It is not the same, of course - my family came to this country willingly, and they were free, and their experiences aren't in any way comparable to those of others who arrived in chains and were enslaved and beat and lynched and thousand more injustices... but this little piece of hatred towards my grandparents because of simply who they were touches me directly because it is personal, it is my family. I think it helps me to understand what has been given to me by our society simply because of the skin I was born into.

I was talking with some friends of mine the other day about religion. I am an atheist, and they're all Saudi citizens, and Muslim. One of them mentioned that her religion defined her - she said her primary identity of herself was "Muslim woman", and wondered how I identified myself. I said mother, woman... and it didn't occur to me until later that I didn't mentioned race. Of the three Saudi women I was with, one is very white, like me, one is slightly darker, and one has dark skin and hair and features that would be called "black" in my society... but her way of seeing herself didn't include that, or at least it wasn't her primary identity. She is a Muslim woman... and in that room, with them, I turned to woman and mother to define myself. My whiteness didn't come to mind, because in that room it didn't have the same meaning. It would have felt like identifying myself by my eye color, or the length of my legs. I think the meaning these things have is the meaning we give them, and the power we give them.

Talking about race makes me feel uncomfortable. I don't think this is a bad thing, really - I think it's something that I, as a white woman, probably should feel uncomfortable with. I feel adrift sometimes, and not sure where I can safely set my feet. I want to do right, but I'm not always sure when to speak, and when to support others in speaking, and when to just listen.

Dar
 

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I am a white English woman. (Betcha couldn't guess that from my username.
)

When I look in the mirror, I see a woman, a mother, a global citizen who is really concerned with living a life that uplifts those around her. I am a Montanan (now), and I am proud of the pioneering spirit that connotes. I am an educated woman, and I strive to use that education to its fullest advantage for the benefit of those whose paths cross mine.

When I was a child, I didn't give much thought to race, except to note that there was an Indian girl in my Primary school class who had the loveliest black hair.

As I grew older, however, I came to realize what it means to be English. Historically, the English are responsible for much suffering of the people in the places that they colonized, the results of which are still very visible today.

I claim as my ancestors the people who (among other things) forced Mama Jama's ancestors to "work...hard against their will to build an empire for someone else." I feel sorrow and shame for this inheritance.

I know (logically) that I personally did not inflict this suffering, and I personally do not make judgments or assumptions based on someone's ethnicity. I am coming to realize, however, that porcelain skin and a British accent grant me privileges in the world at large, and insulate me from discrimation that others face daily.

That fact was brought home to me with a sledgehammer when I travelled back to England last summer. At the tiny Missoula International Airport (3 gates...), I was standing in line behind a man from Tehran who is a professor at the University. We were both going to England. We both carried American passports and State of Montana driver's licenses. He was challenged, questioned, inspected with a "wand" and detained while his luggage was searched. I was sent through the line with nothing more than "Have a safe trip, ma'am." The injustice of this episode stung me, but, I daresay, not nearly as much as it stung the professor.

I am raising my children in a very culturally diverse city (by Montana standards, anyway.) My daughter's best friends are a Chinese girl, an Indian girl, a Pakastani girl, and an African boy. She and her siblings are completely colour blind regarding their friends, and appreciate the cultural diversity that surrounds them.

I hope that they will continue to look at the world this way, and that, in doing so, they will rise above the legacy left to them by their white ancestors.

I feel blessed to be a part of this conversation, and I look forward to learning about each of the other participants on a personal level.
 

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Who am I?
Well, since it *is* a racism workshop, I could start there. I look in the mirror, I see white. In the community I live in, I'm in the majority--white, Northern European ancestry, burn when I so much as *think* about the sun white. In 'government' terms, I'm Caucasian.

But that's just what you see when you look at me walking down the street. Nothing to make me stand out of the crowd.

Unless I'm with my family...then you might actually notice us in the crowd. You see, my husband's black. And not American black, African black. And we're Muslim. 120,000 or so people here where we live and only about 1200 Muslims.

A more interesting conversation to me would be what do I see when I look at the faces of my children? What 'box' do they fit in?
People sometimes ask what nationality they are, or if their dad's black if they see us together or I show a picture of them. The funny thing is, that's the thing that reminds me that 'oh yeah, my kids *are* 'different' " So far, people are just curious, they want to know how it is that this child of this white-white mama looks like she has a tan.

Is it weird that I honestly forget they look any different than anybody else around here until I set my 4 month old next to the average both-white-parents baby in this area? Or till I see my 2 year old playing with a couple other kids at the park?
And what 'box' do I check? Do I check 'black' or 'Caucasian?' And really, why does it matter? What does it tell people about my kids?
Absolutely nothing you can't see when you meet them, and not even the truth because it denies half of who they are either way.

Boxes are stupid. I'd like to opt out of checking ANY box on any form for my kids. It doesn't tell you *anything* about them anyway. For me, it's much like hearing that a new student in my class has, say, cerebral palsy. It tells me NOTHING about the child--I've met kids with cerebral palsy whose only 'disability' is using a walker, children in wheelchairs, children who speak but have articulation difficulties, children who can't speak due to the CP, and some children are affected cognitively while others are not. It really tells me NOTHING about that child.
Let's say I see the box for 'race' marked 'black' on a student's form--what does that tell me? Well, I could have a child from an American family who is black, I could have a child whose parents just immigrated from a country in Africa. Maybe this child doesn't speak English. Or maybe I have a biracial child.
Why does it matter? How am I going to treat this person differently on basis of their race? I'm not. Some far more useful 'boxes' would be "Check the languages you speak at home" or "Is your child fluent in English?" That might give me some information that would be helpful in working with a child.

anyway what was the original question? I think I *way* digressed. That 'box' thing has been one of my pet peeves since DS was born, funny how I never really thought about it until he came into my world, and suddenly, I *had* to think about it. I usually check both boxes or, if I have the choice, I opt out of checking *any* boxes.
What is the point of those boxes anyway? The issue hasn't come up yet, but when it does, and I'm sure it will, I don't want my kids to be favored simply because they happen to be part black.
I know there are quotas because it used to be that NO people of other races were hired for jobs, given scholarships, etc. etc.
But why is it better to give it to my child over another just because he happens to be part black? I would rather my kid get something because he's the most qualified for the job/scholarship/whatever it is. (or my DD, I just happen to be sitting with DS right here and DD is asleep so my mind is on 'he' at the moment)

Someday, maybe, just maybe, we will live in a world where nobody will remember when there were quotas on things like how many percentage of students in a college 'should' be of minority races, quotas will disappear because the best students will be chosen for acceptance, or the best applicant for the job will be hired, with absolutely no regard to what color their skin is, or who their ancestors were. Maybe my kids won't know there were quotas? you think?
 

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who are you?
I am a child of the world, here for such a brief period of time to experience this wonderful span of time called life.
When you look in the mirror, who stares back at you with eyes full of wonder, mystery, and knowledge?
A woman hoping and trying to acknowledge the gift that she has been given to be able to live and and interact with all things that this world has to offer. To know that my existance has an impact on all that I encounter. A person who never wants to be complacent or waste time in pursuit of negativity. A seeker of experiences, differences, joy, and knowledge. A person who truly values true friendship. A person who is willing to standup for what is right. A person who refuses to act out of intimidation. A person who loves life and laughter.
If you had to describe yourself, what community, race, or cultural terms would you use for yourself?
I have described my self as black, black-american, african-american, american, african-native-irish heritage. A black woman.
When other people or institutions in the community describe you, what racial terms do they give for the complexity of your lived experience? Do you use the same descriptions as others? If not, why do you think there are differences? Others most often say black or african-american, a northerner.

It gives me comfort and a sense of belonging to this earth to be able to describe part of my existance in cultural and ancestral terms. It would sadden me if I did not know my ethnic history. It gives me comfort to find strength in survival of "my people" and feel that indebtedness(sp), even though they may not know it. It comforts me to know that we are ALL so interconnected, more than we can every imagine. It saddens me how race, similar to religion and other aspects of life can be used for cruelity.
 

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who are you?
chrissy, good mother, good friend, wife...

When you look in the mirror, who stares back at you with eyes full of wonder, mystery, and knowledge?
Some one who is utterly confused with what she should be doing with her life...

If you had to describe yourself, what community, race, or cultural terms would you use for yourself?

I am white. My dad was 3/4 German and 1/4 French... My mother says she's a mix of everything and couldn't even tell me what....

So the largest part of my history is German. I've always been horrified by the Holocaust and ashamed that I was German, I was blonde and blued eyed and was on the side that didn't get slaughtered.... I felt guilty.
It was either my great grandfather , or my GG grandfather that came from Germany. Long before the Holocaust, but I still was scared to say I was german because of the comments that were made... "anyone who is german is a nazi"

Growing up I lived in a community that I didn't concider racist at the time.
In our county we had just two citys. One was for 'blacks' and one for 'whites'....Most of my school was white. They had a bus from the other town for the kids who wanted to come to the school in the 'white' town.
We didn't have many other races then (in the 90's). There weren't any asians, and few hispanics. just black and white.
Nobody outwardly said that being white was better, but looking back I can see the attitude. I had both black and white friends and didn't concider myself racist.
But at the same time I was scared to go to the other town after dark. (my parents who wouldn't tolerate any racist talk, let me know that 'it was dangerous')
And I didn't have crushes on POC because I 'just didn't find them attractive. I was taught racism was bad, but at the same time I was being taught white was better...Our community was clearly divided.

The summer between 11th and 12th my dad had some trouble and I had to go live with my mother... I moved 8 hours away from S. FL to the panhandle. 3500 people. Still no other races but 'black and white' but the ratio of B&W were closer, I wasn't surrounded in a sea of white anymore...
But even it didn't stop the racism. The people in this town were outwardly racist.
A black guy was hitting on a white girl in line at the gas station that I worked at. she turned him down and he walked out, she looked at me and said "Sorry, not my color"...
I was shocked... and disgusted...
I can see now that her racism and my racism were the same.
That was 7 years ago.
We are living in my original hometown. Population has boomed here, and were have more diversity... but only because we aren't 100% white....
Here are our stats...
Races in Port St. Lucie:
  • White Non-Hispanic (82.8%)
  • Hispanic (7.5%)
  • Black (7.1%)
  • Other race (1.8%)
  • Two or more races (1.8%)
  • American Indian (0.6%)
I like going to the store and seeing people that aren't white. (I can't say "of all colors" because we don't have all colors)
I LOVE hearing different languages spoken. I like diversity and culture.

I still have prejudice though. Its in the back of my head. I listen to the voice, I don't pretend I don't hear it. But I tell myself that it is wrong. That just because someone isn't white, doesn't mean they are inferior, or more dangerous, or poor. I get sad when that voice pops up because I don't want to even have racist thoughts....

My dad and brothers will use the N word loosely. So did DH and his family before he met me. They know that I don't want to hear it, but I can't stop them from saying it, but they don't in my house and NEVER in front of my kids.

I am scared to come off as racist, because I do not believe white is better than all others. So I hope none of what I've said was offensive. But if it was, let me know so I can find out why, and change.
 
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