23 and We
I asked the same twenty-three questions to a group of people with varying racial, ethnic, and economic backgrounds, and the overlap and chasms in between answers help illuminate and further scramble our perceptions of what race has become.
Seven months ago I asked a group of my friends to come in to answer some questions about their race. They had no context, were not given the questions ahead of time, and were unaware of who else were answering the questions (love my friends!). When they arrived I put them in front of a camera, turned the lights up bright so they couldn’t see me hiding in the corner, and pressed record.
I wanted to simulate (as best I could) a conversation they would have with the voice in their head, to try to strip away as many sensory inputs as possible to get the most genuine answers about a topic that is paradoxically beaten like a dead horse and taboo.
I am not a journalist, I am not an authority on race, I am not even the best writer in the world (I’m sure you can tell, prepare for way too many commas and let’s pretend grammar rules are just light suggestions not rules),
but I like to think I have an approachable enough demeanor where people feel comfortable being candid with me, coupled with a slight obsession with this thing that we are all so certain is fake and arbitrary yet it manipulates every situation, every status, every experience we have.
What follows is a conversation that never happened. Even though all of these questions were answered in solitude, there are many instances of echoed feelings and dissonant experiences that don’t fall on pure racial lines.
Although the group contains multiple people who share an identity, the disparity in experience even in those cases can say a lot of the collective and personal nature of racial identity.
1. What do people assume your race or ethnicity is?
Black. But then- since I have light eyes (which I actually get from my Black grandmother), people are always like “What you mixed with?”…No, the first question is “What are you?”, and I’m like… Black. And they’re like, what else? And then I say Native American and then they’re like oh that’s why you’re this, that’s why you’re pretty.
And so I find that often the Native American side of me is used to diminish the Black part of me. It makes me very hesitant to talk about that side of it, because I know that it’s coming — Victor
I think people are confused sometimes. I’ve gotten everything from being half Asian, to being Arab, to being White — Ana
Whew! They think I’m half. Half something. I’m always mixed with something but they can’t tell me what it is. If they guess and I say Filipino they say “Filipino and what?” — Nikki
2. Do you feel like a typical [blank] person?
I don’t know what that means- I’m just living my life, I’m just being me. — Ton
I feel like I’m this weird hybrid of tradition and modernity. — Nikki
I would say a lot of my experience is the typical white experience. I very much grew up in a small town, went to a small town high school with primarily white people.
I definitely feel like my experience was a homogeneous, essentialized experience of being a white person. Now that I’m at NYU and fallen more comfortably into my identity as a gay person I have a little more nuanced identity, I think that it’s changed and my experience of being a white man is definitely different now. — Ben
Sometimes. Sometimes people say I talk white but also sometimes people say I’m too ratchet so… I’m diverse you know what I’m saying, I’m multi-faceted. — Tyla
No, not really.
And I think that’s just because I grew up around White people so a lot of the time when I’m around Black people they don’t know what to do with me. There’s a disconnect. — Kamana
I think I have the experience of a large group of us who come to the US as small kids and sound and feel American but at home we live the experience that our parents help instruct us.
But I also know that in many ways I look white and that really dictates the spaces that I’m allowed in and how people treat me. Which isn’t reflective of lots of the Latinx community. — Ana
I do and I don’t. It was a journey becoming comfortable even claiming my Blackness, so I do connect with a lot of Black people, no matter what kind of Black on that main front. I haven’t in my life found a lot of Afrolatinas so I often have to separate myself and my identities in that way.
I don’t really know what the Black experience is. The more I talk to other Black people the more I’m like what the fuck does it mean to be Black besides being oppressed and being seen by other people. I very much feel like there are two types of Blackness. There’s the collective that is put upon us by other people and there’s the individual experience of actually being Black and for me that’s really complicated. — Talia
No. I feel deeply ashamed of my whiteness, and although I know a lot of white people who are, I feel like the vast majority of white people are not ashamed of that. — Zac
3. When did you first notice your racial identity?
I don’t know, my mom has always made it a point to let me know that I was Black and to be proud about that. — Tyla
I have no idea, there’s no salient memory of becoming white. — Zac
I knew in first grade. There were a lot of girls who were at my school who were blonde, thin, and white. It was the first time I realized that I didn’t look like them and I got really insecure about it. I think it was the fact that I had cornrows, and nobody else had cornrows. — Kamana
My first language was Vietnamese, and then my parents pushed me into pre-school knowing no English whatsoever so that’s when I was like oh shit, I’m a little bit different, I gotta catch on, and I caught on. — Ton
It’s kind of a hard question. I feel like for white people we don’t really always notice our identity because the system is structured in a way that there really isn’t anything for us to notice. But I started to notice more when I started to educate myself on it. — Ben
Pretty late, when I was younger- I’m one of the darker ones of my family, so I always knew I was darker, but in my home I actually couldn’t call myself Black. They were like “You are Dominican and Puerto Rican, you’re not Black, you’re not African American”. — Talia
4. In which spaces do you feel most comfortable?
Around Black people. With my friends, with my family, with my partner, in my house. With other Negroes because Black people are dope and White people can be really judgmental and I just like being around people that identify similarly to me because they understand me more, I feel. — Tyla
Around Black people, Black women especially. Most comfortable comfortable is usually around Black women because then there’s also the… the gay side of things and that salience shifts when I’m around Black men usually. But Black women, y’all hold it down and y’all make me feel very comfortable and whole. — Victor
Multicultural spaces. If I’m around one thing I feel the most uncomfortable. There’s room to breathe if there is a mix of cultures, it takes the pressure off personally. I’ve had a lot of traumatic experiences in White spaces, I’ve had a lot uncomfortable experiences in Blackspaces. — Kamana
I genuinely feel most comfortable in spaces with other POC, no matter what kind. That being said I know how to operate in predominantly White spaces really well because I had to do it my whole life. — Talia
5. What makes you most proud about your racial identity?
Hmm…proud of my identity… — Ben
I’m proud of everything. How rich our history is, but sometimes I don’t even realize exactly how rich. But we’ve gone through so much as Filipinos and I am personally trying so hard to hold on to anything that may have been erased by colonization. — Nikki
Um, nothing? I don’t know, I don’t like the fact that I have a privilege that other people don’t. I like being Irish but I don’t like being *white* — Colin
I don’t even know how to answer that, honestly. I just started being proud of being Black three years ago. I really like my hair, sometimes, not even all the time. I really like my body type, sometimes, not all the time. I don’t know what of anything makes me the most proud to be Black, I can’t answer that. — Kamana
We’re good at everything (chuckles). People of color (but Black people in particular) we have created everything. We have created fashion, we create music. So as an artist in particular, there’s something really empowering and beautiful seeing other Black people thrive and seeing myself thrive and just… knowing that we’re good at what we do. — Talia
6. What’s one stereotype you definitely contribute to?
I mean I’m an overachiever so there’s that. There’s the stereotype that Asians are the model minority, that bullshit. But I always did good in school. — Ton
The sassy, angry Black woman stereotype. And it’s hard because I am also just someone who is confident, periodt. And so it’s difficult for people to see the difference between sassiness and confidence. — Talia
I think whether I want to or not I definitely contribute to stereotypes of white gay men. In my lived actions and in the things that I say and in the things that I do consciously and cognizantly, I try to defy those stereotypes. In terms of my body type and my socioeconomic status and the things that I enjoy in terms of clothing and food and travel, I definitely think I fit into the stereotype of your typical “white gay” twink-y kind of guy. But I try to speak out against that and live my life in a way that pushes back against that and doesn’t fold into that stereotype — Ben
The strong independent Black woman who can do it all on her own. Because that’s how I was raised to be. I look at myself and I feel like a walking stereotype sometimes, but I don’t know how else to be. — Kamana
7. How does your gender play into your racial identity?
I’ve never had just one thing to battle, it was always multiple. — Talia
I think within the American context Asian men are sometimes emasculated, whatever, and within the context of Vietnamese culture, the men are seen as aggressive. It’s interesting how the two spectrums play out. — Ton
I’m a white man and that sucks. Everyone hates white men and they probably should because we have a lot of privilege over other groups. The fact that I’m white and the fact that I’m a man gives me two legs up. — Colin
You’re raised to be pretty, you’re raised to be fit, you’re raised to be beautiful for a male gaze that for the U.S. can be sexist, but in Latin America is machista. It meant that while my mom raised me to want to be beautiful so that men loved me, she also raised me in fear that if I was too beautiful men would rape me. And I think that that tension within that identity is something I experience to this day. — Ana
It is everything. My mom told me when I was a kid that I was going to have a hard time because I’m a double minority. I’m Black and I’m a woman. And I didn’t realize until maybe two years ago they way that people perceive me because of those things. — Kamana
Well I’m a white man so I’m kinda the perfect gender/racial mix but I think for me one of the big things is also how my sexual orientation plays into my gender, because for me they are kind of inseparable. I’m a pretty effeminate queer man, there are a lot of white man spaces that I don’t feel comfortable in at all. — Zac
8. What media/entertainment representation are you most proud of?
One that comes to mind would be Perks of Being a Wallflower just because the main character is just this young, white man and he lives in a nice middle-class suburban home but he has a lot of internal struggles and anxiety and depression, that sort of thing. Even though from the outside it looks like he’s living a perfect life, like he has everything going for him.
And I think that struggle is relevant and it’s interesting to see that portrayed, because I think I come off as a certain way that I may not be super aligned with internally. — Colin
Beyoncé because she is literally a Black woman that rules the entire planet.
She is literally Jesus. Beyoncé is a Black woman who literally built herself from the ground up (with the help of Ms. Tina of course). And is doing whatever the fuck she wants and is out here being an example for everyone. — Tyla
Well I love film and TV right now. I feel like we are in this renaissance in terms of how we’re representing Black people and Black bodies. And Insecure in particular, like I want to do stuff like that. Just reading about how they are thinking about lighting specifically POC and showing so many different aspects of what it means to be a Black woman. That show in particular is the first time I see myself in there in so many aspects, it’s very three dimensional. — Talia
Well there’s not a lot… I mean recently Henry Golding is a fine ass man, I wanna be that fine. Give me a an invisalign, close these gaps. — Ton
I wish I cared more about that, I don’t think too much about being represented in media. I sometimes feign to be excited about being represented in media but I don’t care that much. — Kamana
There’s no one I’m particularly proud of which makes me really sad. — Nikki
9. How is your mental health affected by your racial identity?
Wow, sometimes it feels like two completely different identities. People don’t realize the emotional labor school and academics take. Also add on that I’m someone who identifies as having depressive episodes that bring me to points of being non-verbal depending on when they happen is really hard.
Because Latinas don’t get sad, we’re funny and we’re goofy and we’re not allowed to not be strong, or to not be able to get out of bed. That’s not who we are. So it’s hard because I feel like there’s not space in my identity to feel weak, to feel sick, to feel incapable. But I still do. — Ana
Mental health for me, in terms of identity is a huge part of it. As someone who has been in multiple rounds of therapy, been in mental health psych wards, it’s a huge part of it. A lot of mental health spaces I’ve been in are of color. It’s not white people in mental health space, there are White people in spas, and treatment camps like that. — Zac
It’s just non-existent. In the Philippines it’s not even a topic. You’re sad? Just stop feeling that way. That’s honestly the solution to everything. My culture suffocates my mental health and tries to bury it and hide it from sight. — Nikki
I think I was really lucky to have a family that’s super honest about mental health, even though a lot of times in the Black community — when I was younger I would act out and they would be like “ooh girl we gotta go to church”. Like I got baptized once to get off of punishment, one of my darker moments. But my mom was also really really honest about mental health. — Tyla
I have mental health things but I don’t know that any of them are directly tied to my race. — Colin
I don’t really see them knocking into each other, I never really thought about that — Ton
It’s hard. It’s hard to not be upset all of the time. And I try to keep it pushin’. I come to Twitter to laugh and to decompress, and I still end up seeing images of Black men being legitimately lynched in 2018 in their backyards.
And then people try to like, “This was an accident”. This is a Black boy hanging from a tree are we really gonna ignore the implications that this has right now? — Victor
10. How does your socioeconomic status affect your racial identity?
It makes me feel like a mismatch. It makes me feel like I can’t tell people, “When me and my partner were at Disney someone yelled ‘I hate when Mexicans cut in line’” because we were at Disney and we could afford to go there and have a good time. It’s hard to hold the financial privilege I have in one hand and the fact that a lot of times microaggressions and so many different not-so-microaggressions happen. But I do recognize that I’ve had a lot of privilege. — Ana
I grew up very poor, so one of the things I grappled with for a long time is how socioeconomic status can balance out and imbalance racial status. That is to say that at the poverty level there are certain things that White people, regardless of poverty, are going to receive, or trust that they’ll have that Black people at that level or whatever ethno-racial group you fall into will not receive. But I think it was hard growing up in an environment that was very poor when in many ways money can buy you out of a lot of different oppressive situations. Not all, but very many. — Zac
I think it’s interesting because here I’m middle class and it doesn’t really matter. But then the second we go back to the Philippines everyone assumes we just have to be upper class because we live in America. Especially with how light my skin is, people always assume we’re rich. — Nikki
That is a really hard question because I grew up really privileged, extremely privileged. I lived a life that a lot of Black people don’t. I have a family member who likes to separate my immediate family from other Black people because I grew up so privileged and because I went to private schools my entire life. I don’t necessarily like to go in the direction that she goes in where we’re so different than these people because no one looking at me would assume “this is a first-generation African American who comes from an affluent background”.
But I do feel like I have to acknowledge that I lived a life that not a lot of Black people in America do. That’s probably a part of why I feel so out of place in Black spaces. — Kamana
Because I go to NYU, because I dress the way that I do people sometimes think that I’m very well off or that I come from a privileged background — and while it’s definitely true I do have inherent privilege being a white man, I definitely don’t come from wealth or any money in general. I come from very humble beginnings, I have six siblings and I think a lot of people don’t see that when they look at me. I don’t know if that answers the question. — Colin
11. Are you struggling with internal racism?
Everyday. Right now, before this interview I blow dried my bangs because I knew that this would be filmed so that they would be straight. — Ana
Growing up everybody always liked the girls with the blonde hair and the blue eyes and I felt really boring being brown eyed and dark haired, I didn’t feel special at all. — Nikki
I don’t think I ever got to a place where I felt Black wasn’t beautiful.
And I think that is to say — because I am light skin, and a man, so colorism works a little differently there, I never got to a point, or received messages from society, that I wasn’t beautiful. — Victor
I think I have a struggle internally, consistently about whether I’m being cognizant enough of my whiteness.
I don’t agree with the idea of white guilt or white shame. I shouldn’t feel guilty about something that people in the past have done, because there’s nothing I can do to change that but I should be cognizant of it and it’s definitely something white people have a responsibility to be thoughtful about.
There’s definitely conflict in my mind. — Ben
I still wish I was white everyday because I genuinely feel in my heart it would make my day-to-day life a lot easier. But I also just wish I was fairer skinned. — Kamana
12. How is your professional life affected by your racial identity?
There isn’t that experience of feeling like I have to earn my stripes in ways that other people with more marginalized identities certainly feel. — Ben
Jesus Christ! I didn’t even expect this. I was completely demonized very recently for being the same way that I’ve been in high school, college, as an intern for this company. Suddenly my desire to be like, “This is not going right, let’s fix this.
Let me contribute to see how this could be better”, is being perceived in a completely negative way. They’re teetering around calling me aggressive, which is so disappointing. I don’t want to shrink myself and make myself smaller. That’s not who I am as a person. — Kamana
I won’t deny that I have had advantages because people are racist out here, and in terms of job opportunities Asians don’t get that. I have a privilege as an Asian man in the job market. — Ton
I work in an office now that’s all Black people (except one white Woman with dreads…) so it really doesn’t affect it that much. — Tyla
13. Is your racial identity the most salient part of your identity?
No. The most salient identity I have flips back and forth between ability status, socioeconomic narrative and standing, and LGBTQ status. I feel very liminal in all three of them.
For socioeconomic standing I didn’t grow up with a lot of money but I’ve been financially emancipated for my whole adult life. I have helped pay my mother’s bills but that also means that when I buy clothes I buy nice clothes. With gender identity I perform relatively masculinely, relatively femininely. And I also lie between this delimiter for White twink of skinny but I have a stomach, I eat well and it feels very weird for me in terms of salient identity of how do I exist in queer spaces. — Zac
I feel like I can’t choose the most salient of identities just because all of my salient identities play into one another. Being a Black woman is different than being just Black and being a Black queer woman is its own layer of stuff and I feel like they’re all equally important. — Tyla
It depends on where. It depends on who and what I’m with. If I’m at work and it’s seven other white women and it’s me, and I’ve got Cardi B on, yeah it is. But is it when I go back to the Bronx and go home? No. For a long time my salient identity was my sexuality, so that was the issue that I was struggling with growing up. It was never my Blackness it was always “…that nigga gay.” So that was the bigger issue. When I go home, I make very clear and conscious choices about what I’m wearing to work and what I’m wearing out of the house because I don’t want my salient identity to be read as as gay as it could be read. And I think a lot of times it’s easier to be a Black face in a White space than a gay face in a Black space. — Victor
14. Name every person in power you know of with your exact identity.
Cardi B is someone who I think of all the time and I’m obsessed with her because she is a Black Dominican from New York who has transcended class. — Talia
The President, the Vice President, the Secretary of State, the NY senator, the Massachusetts senator, the governor of Massachusetts, the entire White House Cabinet, lots of elected officials, most of the Senate, most of the House of Representatives, most senior level media executives, most of the administration at most colleges. Yeah… — Colin
Michelle Obama, Barack Obama, Beyoncé, Cicely Tyson I guess is in power. Maxine Waters, Kamala Harris even though she sucks, Corey Booker even though he also sucks. Are we counting Al Sharpton, who knows. — Tyla
In the Trump administration I can’t think of anyone. Unfortunately Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz… There’s few of us and I think politically there’s even less, and that’s really scary. But we have a Supreme Court justice! — Ana
15. How is your love life affected by your racial identity?
It is so affected, it is SO affected. I came to terms with the fact that I’ll always have extra questions when I’m engaging with anyone. It’s always the question of how is my body being seen. Am I a fetish to you? Am I a “first” on your list? — Talia
I haven’t encountered anything good from it, it’s just made me uncomfortable and objectified. — Nikki
Whew, that is a question. People just don’t like Asian men, I don’t know why but they just don’t. Say I hop on the app and I get a whole lot of tops coming my way and like listen, I never even said shit on my profile and you’re already assuming that I’m a bottom. So what does that fucking say ?— Ton
I have to work very hard to not fetishize the brown body. It is something that I know that I do because I tend to value that as a more genuine connection. I don’t find that there are many white men that I can have genuine conversations with about anything. Whereas a lot of the people of color I’ve dated tend to align better, but then I realize I’m just dating people of color without understanding specific challenges they’re going through, if not directly fetishizing their challenges. I don’t want those latent biases to come up as clearly as I know they have in the past. — Zac
A participant of the interview. Courtesy of the participant.
16. Are you mainly attracted to people of your racial identity or others?
I grew up in white spaces so I find myself attracted to white men. Which is problematic in a lot of different ways. But it’s increasingly problematic because I don’t think the white men that I have dated in the past have the capacity to see me as a person and not an object. I have been objectified many, many times. Pretty much in every single romantic relationship I’ve ever been in. And that is a crazy frustrating pattern and it’s really destructive. It’s just upsetting — Kamana
There’s a lot of people that express surprise that I am interested in people that are not white. When I speak about dating men of color there’s usually a lot of shock that I do it, which is weird to me. — Ben
Right now I’m dating a Latino and it makes life easier because there are certain moments where we get really tired because sometimes days are really hard when you experience a lot of microaggressions or when you know that something happens to you because of your racial identity. And so having a partner that understands that and you don’t have to explain but you can just sit and be quiet together and just be able to move past it is really nice. But of course it’s not perfect but I never had that and I realized now I don’t really know if I could have a partner where we didn’t share an identity in that way. — Ana
17. When do you feel most threatened because of your racial identity?
I don’t think I’ve ever particularly felt threatened because of my race. — Nikki
Literally any space where there are more than five White people around me. Anytime the White people in the room outnumber the Black people in the room, I don’t like it.
A lot of people feel like they have to operate differently because there are White people in the space. Whiteness is really really pervasive in every way that it exists and can be really toxic. There are not many White people willing to unlearn or undo those things and so it comes out in the little ways all the time so I just am always uneasy when I’m around a lot of White people. — Tyla
When I’m around straight white men… and honestly also when I’m around straight Black men, I think there’s a lot of pressures that are put on Black men to be hyper masculine and often times that hyper-masculinity can be really damaging to people in the LGBTQ community. I know that I don’t feel it as much as my peers that are Black gay men but any space where there is really hyper masculine heterosexuality I definitely feel very threatened by that and very much like I don’t fit there. — Ben
18. What would you change about the experience of your racial identity?
I would change how mindless my existence as a White person was when I was young. I didn’t acknowledge my privilege, I wish that I had a little bit more of a conscious upbringing. — Ben
I wish I didn’t think it was a bad thing, or a dirty thing, and I wish I didn’t want to pass as White for most of my childhood. — Ana
I think White people have it pretty well. I wish everyone was equal so no one had to feel bad about who they are. I feel guilty about being White because I have this inherent privilege that I didn’t ask for, that I was born into. I’m not proud being White, I don’t have a racial identity to be proud of. — Colin
19. Do you support colorblind race ideologies?
No, that shit is mad dumb, that shit is hella stupid. It just logically doesn’t make any sense, I am amazing because of my Blackness, not in spite of it. — Tyla
No. No. That’s stupid. None of us are going to be able to unsee race, that’s not how we make progress. Pretending something isn’t there isn’t how it gets fixed. We have to make active steps to acknowledge the issues that we have and the perceptions that we have, and we have to unlearn that. I’ve had to do that with my own internalized homophobia and my internalized transphobia and a lot of things. And I’m still doing that on a daily basis. — Victor
Behind race is such a rich history with every race that there is and there’s so much you can’t gloss over. That completely belittles everything that people have overcome or that people have struggled with. — Nikki
If for you to treat me fairly means that you don’t see who I am, that’s not right. Also colorblindness assumes a neutrality and that neutral point is White, and therefore it’s not colorblind. You need to understand my experience and my experience is a mixed Brazilian-American woman. And you need to understand every facet of that. — Ana
20. What biases are you unlearning from childhood?
First generation Africans have really awful and gross ideas about Black Americans. It’s really disgusting the way I hear some of my aunts and uncles talk about Black Americans.
To think that you’re better because your lineage was fortunate enough not to be on the boats, that’s fucked up. — Kamana
That White people are everything (laughs). That White people are the key to success. I remember growing up my family would always be very impressed when a family member dated someone that was White.
Because for some reason that just meant that they would be successful automatically. Also growing up my mom taught me to be incredibly afraid of Black people. And that was hard. And I realized that coming to New York and being on my own, I would hear my mom’s voice.
And like mom, you’re racist! And that’s something really hard to tackle because I love my mom. — Nikki
There will always be times when I’m sitting on the train and someone gets on the train I’m like oof, i’m scared. And it’ll be a person that looks like me or a person that’s Black or Brown.
But I don’t think unlearning is an instant process I think it’s then having the thought with myself like “that’s dumb, you are feeling afraid because of XYZ”. I’m constantly in a state of learning and unlearning. — Tyla
Growing up in a very homogeneous community there was a lot of preconceived notions about what an outsider or what a villain looks like.
Growing up in that community anyone who doesn’t look like you feels like an outsider and that’s something that you have to unlearn. And also you have to remember sometimes they’re not included in those communities because they’re being actively excluded. The idea of what a villain looks like, the idea that someone in a hijab is a terrorist, that’s something that I was taught, I know that not to be true.
Coming from a background where there weren’t that many Muslim people, there weren’t that many people in hijabs it does take some time to learn that even though now it’s so obvious to me it’s not true. — Colin
21. Could you be racist?
No. Because I’m Black. Because racism is a system of oppression that comes with privilege and Black people can’t do that. I can be prejudiced but I do not have the power to oppress. — Tyla
I’d be shocked if I wasn’t. I think to act like you’re not racist or don’t hold any kind of racial bias, like get off your high horse, you probably are. You hold something about some other racial group that is not ok. — Kamana
I think I am racist. I think there are many things that I do that are racist. Be they microaggressive, macroaggresive, whatever they take themselves out on. Be they protective and patronizing — I don’t think I’m aggressive and mean all the time, when I’ve been aggressive it’s in my mind of being like I want to fix things. I don’t think there will ever be a time in my life where I will not be racist. — Zac
22. Would you eradicate race?
Sure I mean I guess we can give it a shot. — Nikki
No. Ehhh, idk! That’s a hard question because race is fake. I have no idea. — Tyla
No, no, I would erase colonialism and imperialism. I think race is not intrinsically bad. — Ben
I can’t even imagine that, I wish I could. Race, as important as it is to how I identify myself and experience myself, it was a reason for genocide. It was a reason for slavery. Me being able to title and label myself a certain way at the sake of generations and centuries of oppression, it’s not worth it. And if race hadn’t been here, there would be a multitude of ways to define myself. — Ana
I don’t know. The social scientist in me is saying that we all need in-group, we all need something to belong to. I don’t know how I would go about talking about racial difference, I guess I’m arguing that I would keep it, but I’m also reticent to argue any point because for all intents and purposes I’m the winner. — Zac
Race? Yes. I think race is such an unnecessary construction. It makes such little sense it’s constantly unfolding itself. But I don’t want to confuse that with culture and ethnicity. — Talia
23. What does your racial identity mean to you?
My racial identity means that I have had unfair advantages in my life and I’ve had a sense of easiness that a lot of people who don’t look like me aren’t afforded. It also means I’m not very proud of what I look like or where I’m from. I hate most white men, I think that they’re all kind of terrible and then I look in the mirror and I’m like “Oh wait! She’s part of the problem.” — Colin
Self-hatred in a lot of ways. I still to this day am deeply ashamed of my Whiteness because I know that I have received things that I probably don’t deserve. I’ve received things I’ve deserved, sure, but I know that there are many things that I’ve probably received without deserving them. — Zac
I don’t hold onto it that much. I see how it affects me. It means as much to me as me being 5’ 7” means to me, it’s a thing about me, you can see it, but I don’t hold onto it as a core part of my person. — Kamana
I need to walk the line. I’m not Indigenous, and I’m not Black, and I’m not White. I’m mixed, and that is a really particular world to live in. And for me to deny my Whiteness for the sake of embracing my indigeneity or my Blackness doesn’t make sense because it’s all apart of who I am. — Ana
It means everything. It means how I move through the world, it means how I see other people. It’s everything I do, it’s the art that I make. It’s everything. — Talia