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Boston, US
Posts: 350


From Winona Guo and Priya Vulchi, Tell Me Who You Are: Sharing Our Stories of Race, Culture, and Identity (2019).

NOTE: Yes, I know that looks like quite a bit of reading. Page-wise it is, though you have a few days to do this. But it’s an easy read, with ample page-sized photos (that are like 2D identity vessels!) so the actual text is not as long as it appears to be, based on the page numbers. Still, budget your time to do this, as the post itself is somewhat involved.

Some background:

We’re going to take a look at what I think is an uber-cool book by two women, Winona Guo and Priya Vulchi, who graduated from high school in Princeton, New Jersey, and took a gap year to write it.

The book is called Tell Me Who You Are: Sharing Our Stories of Race, Culture, and Identity and it was published just before the pandemic, in 2019. The women who wrote it became interested in exploring this topic in depth after the murder of Eric Garner in 2014 and a discussion that followed in their 10th grade history class. At first, they formed a club--called CHOOSE--as a way to explore racial literacy. As a professor they consulted described it, “racial literacy is developing a historical + sociological tool kit to understand how we got here and how it could’ve been/CAN BE otherwise.” And they began collecting stories...and stories….and stories, mostly from folks in New Jersey and New York.

One of the results was this book, first published as a textbook called The Classroom Index, which got considerable buzz thanks to Teen Vogue and a boatload of social media. That motivated the two to fundraise to support taking a year off without working pre-college to travel across the United States--from Anchorage, Alaska to Charlottesville, Virginia--and get….more stories.

In the introduction to the book, Priya + Winona let us inside their thinking:

“Our heads throb and our hearts hurt when we think about the stories we have heard. Many are tragic. Many are hopeful. Most detail lives we have never imagined and still cannot imagine.

The stories leave us feeling disturbed. Touched. Tired. Energized. Sad. Optimistic. Angry. Compassionate. More than anything, they leave us urgently wanting to make sure these stories are heard. As we have traveled, we have learned that racial literacy never stops. We--including the two of us--can all learn more about who we are.”

<b>The post: </b>

We will look at more parts of this book in class on Wednesday. But for this post, I ask you to address the following:

Winona + Priya state that “race and racism inescapably impact everything around us. Even the very existence of the United States demanded their presence.” (12) They go on to say “race is a cancer that impacts every part of our lives.” (13) Their inquiry + book starts from the notion that this is true and proceeds from that assumption.

  1. Do you agree with Winona + Priya’s assumptions or do you want to challenge some part of what they believe about the role of race? Why or why not?
  2. Identify one (1) first-person account from this first chapter in the book that says something that, in your view, is important about race and identity. Identify the person you select and share with us

(a) a brief summary of what each person said and

(b) why you think it’s important/significant/noteworthy (your choice).

  1. IMO, among the cool things about this book are the eye-opening factoids/information details that appear in the margins, as if they are footnotes OR side-references, OR commentary. Select at least 2 of those and lift them up in the post by

(a) VERY briefly summarizing the factoid/information and

(b) why you think more people should know about this.

  1. If you like or dislike this book ….so far….say so! Tell us why you feel the way you do about it.

Be sure to divide your post into paragraphs. Paragraphs are your friend and they make your post much more readable. Thank you in advance for making this reader-friendly.

Boston, MA, US
Posts: 14

How does racial identity play into how people see us?

1. I agree with Winona and Priya’s assumptions about the role of race because the concept was established to justify systems of power, privilege, disenfranchisement, and oppression. The ‘racial’ worldview was invented to assign some groups to perpetual low status- the status that was used to create stereotypes, disadvantages, and hate that people of color experience today. Educators need to be promoting culturally responsive practices, starting from kindergarten. It’s what would allow us to educate each other so that (white people especially) can recognize diversity, promote empathy, and lift up the stories and ideas of people of color.

2a. Queen Esther explained the fantasy of Whiteness- that America at its bones is Black, yet no one wants to say it. She identified the countless contributions and traditions that Black people made to America’s robust society- hundreds of ideas and inventions that we didn’t even know were started by Black people. She explained the hurt that Black people went through, their bodies taken from them, because (at the time) they were not their own, “for the advancement of technology and medical science.”

2b. When Esther highlights the hundreds of thousands of contributions that Black people made to society that has gone completely unnoticed, it opened my eyes to a world of possibility I didn’t previously realize existed. It’s sad to think how many contributions were ignored, stolen, discouraged, and that I may not have learned this had I not taken this class.

3a. America’s first immigration law banned Chinese women from America because America only wanted Chinese immigrants for their labor, not to welcome them (and their possible future generations) as citizens.

3b. I for one, didn’t know this. It would’ve been so incredibly eye-opening to have known this when reading certain books in previous English classes. I didn’t know that America flat out wanted to deny Chinese-American citizens their right to be citizens. They did this for hundreds of years with every race that has stepped foot into America and yet it’s. Still. Shocking.

4. I really like this book so far because it sheds light on so many new perspectives and gives me so many things to think about. I wanna read the whole thing in one sitting and ask hundreds more people their stories because while they are sad and disparaging, they’re incredibly relevant and interesting- and the only way to start to get humanity to realize the need for equity- and how race controls our world.

Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 17

How Does Racial Identity Play into How People See Us?

1. I agree with Winona and Priya's assumptions about the role of race. Race is the most misunderstood social construct created by society's most oppressive elite. The domino effect created by colonialism during the Age of Exploration has left nations crippled with intolerance. While race may serve a uniting purpose among marginalized groups, it seems almost patronizing to categorize individual peoples and force them into assimilating with other groups on account of their physical appearance, with complete disregard for their social and biological truth. I was most intrigued by the parallels drawn between developing racism across Europe and the Americas and the rise of capitalism. It seems the growth of mass manufacturing only worsened the ever-spiraling racial tensions of developed countries across the globe.

2a. One first-person account from this chapter that said something important about race and identity is Alexa, a young woman who developed her thinking around race during her time navigating the public and private school systems. Alexa is the daughter of immigrants from Mexico, and spent most of her adolescence unaware of her non-citizenship status. She recounts the difficulties she experienced in public schools across Chicago; the pressures of assimilation through "code-switching," and feeling as though her experiences as a Mexican woman were invalidated due to her light skin in comparison to her peers. When applying to a private high school, her citizenship status held her back from being accepted despite being among the best candidates interviewed, both academically and socially.

2b. I believe this account is important because it demonstrates a broad view of the impacts of institutional racism across America, as well as touching on issues of racial stereotypes and tropes among younger generations.

3a. From Alexa's story I learned that the Supreme Court decision in Plyler v. Doe granted children of undocumented workers the same rights to attend public primary and secondary schools as do U.S. citizens and permanent residents. From Nick's story (starts at page 28) I learned that of the approximate 500 treaties agreed upon by native American tribes and the U.S., nearly all 500 were broken or violated in some way.

3b. I think these two topics are directly related. Education remains at the core of development among teens and adolescents across the country, and is essential in shaping the minds of engaged, equitable citizens. The SCOTUS decision in Plyler is incredibly relevant in the fight against institutional racism by promoting equitable access to education for all. However, what remains are still the issues of under-funding for public schools across America, how their curriculi are designed, as well as the question of what roles do private institutions play in promoting equity through education. The second fact is also extremely relevant as many of us are currently taking or have already taken U.S. History 2 or AP U.S. History. To understand the injustices inflicted upon Native American populations by the United States government on a social level is even more important in understanding how American diplomacy has been shaped since the nation's founding in the late 1700s.

4. I like this book very much! Reading these personalized accounts is extremely fascinating. I believe the only way to truly embrace liberty and equity is to listen to (or in this case, read) the stories of real people who fight tirelessly to assert their identities and feelings of self-worth.

Posts: 20
  • I agree with Winona and Priyas assumptions because it is the reality for Americans. Race plays an important part of politics, freedoms, privileges, identity. Every important document that must be filled out in America starts with the question what is your race. Why does it matter at the dentist? I'm not quite sure, but race is something engraved in our society. The concept of race is completely made up, created by white people to separate themselves from others based on the color of their skin. The entire nature of race is based on racism and the need for division. The idea of race has definitely changed but its importance has not.
  • Jennifer
    • I chose to write about Jennifer because her story was definitely different. She speaks about how growing up she was only surrounded by Vietnamese people and her only source of race was from her conservative dad who was very racist towards black americans. She then was transferred to a mostly black and latinx populated school and was racist to her fellow classmates. She talks about how she grew and learned to challenge the “model minority” complex and even started organizations to create a community for all poc students.
    • I believe that this is very noteworthy because she was able to admit her wrongs and change her mindset. She realized once experiencing her first hate crime in ninth grade that she too was oppressed. Jennifer became an advocate and a leader of the ASA it is truly amazing.
  • I found in the margins the definition of ally which I thought was very important to share. Many people love to throw that word around but I wonder how many actually know the true definition. It states that as an ally you have to first recognize your privilege and work in solidarity with oppressed groups to fight for justice.
  • A second piece of information in the text includes how traveling as a black woman is very different from traveling as a non-poc person. The hotels almost never have shampoo catered to people with hair other than straight white hair.
  • Lastly, I really enjoy the book and how it seems almost like poetry. It is a great way to educate on race and also a fun read.
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 13

How does racial identity play into how people see us?

I agree with the assumptions that Winona and Priya have about race because people don't tend to care about race unless it is proven to be giving a disadvantage to people of color especially because race directly plays into the class system which significantly and disproportionately affects people of color more than white people. All these systems that effect people of color also create the stereotypes used on them today.

Esther gives her first person account of the whiteness of America. She discusses how America's roots were created by black people, which is so incredibly true as America was mainly built by people of color and especially cities, which were built predominantly by people of color as well. I think it is important that we hear things like this because we always talk about how America was created by our founding fathers and people like them, which isn't true. America was built on the forced labor of indigenous people and people of color, and I think we need to start talking more about the unfair treatment of those who quite literally built our country

Nick's story talks about the treaties that discussed the injustices that the US government has done to the Native American Populations, and how most of these treaties were broken unfairly, and no reparations or repercussions have been dealt with. In Jennifer's story she talks about the internal racism that happened within her household and how as someone who grew up around Vietnamese people it was hard to understand the racism being basically taught to her.

So far I think that the book is really good, and it talks about a lot of the struggles that we don't really talk about on a regular basis, which is important, because race is a very strong topic in our world and it is one that everyone should know more about

Posts: 18
1. I agree with Winona and Priya's assumption. I think that race and racism is so deeply rooted in our society that sometimes we don't even realize the extent of it. Race dictates basically every aspect of our lives, but I don't necessarily agree with the statement that race is a "cancer". Cancer has negative connotations of evil and malignancy. Race isn't necessarily bad, racism is.

2. A first-person account that really spoke to me was Vic's story. She speaks of her journey of finding her identity. She talks of her privilege, how Asians were considered "less dangerous" to Whites than Blacks were. She mentions her denial of her experience as a WOC, and how she used academia to educate people on racism. She said that "it's my right to speak truth, but not my responsibility to educate" (33). One thing she pointed out that caught my attention was the comparison of how her classmates reacted to the death of a Vietnamese person [they did not even flinch] whereas to the death of a pig [sympathizing, claiming they couldn't watch anymore]. I think this is especially important because it shows how some of us don't even realize how many exceptions we make for White people, sugarcoating things and shaping things so that they are comfortable.

3. One of the interesting factoids found in this book were that 2% of the American Meteorological Society and 5% of the National Weather Service are African Americans. This was recorded In 2018. That was only 4 years ago, and African Americans have very poor representation in jobs like these. These organizations are nation-wide, and yet African Americans don't even make up one tenth of either. Another piece of information regarded treaties with the Native Americans. Over 500 treaties were made with the Native Americans and around 500 were broken. That is absolutely shocking, and it makes me question just how many treaties the Americans actually honored. I think people should know more about both of these because I feel like it's just ignored and dismissed, when really there should be a lot more awareness brought to these topics.

4. I do actually like this book! It's very compelling and it's brought my attention to a lot of the things that I hadn't even thought about before. I also really like hearing the stories of other people, and it feels comforting when I find an experience similar to mine. I also learned a lot with the little notes in the margins. It also makes me question how we very rarely talk about this in school or even other environments.

Posts: 20

Racial Identity and Assumptions

I agree with Winona and Priya's assumptions. I just wish that race wasn't really a thing. I want to be defined as a human being only--there is no benefit to describing someone as black or white or green or whatever. Sometimes, race is just used to determine if someone is significant or not. I also think that even though you might think "race doesn't dictate anything I do," it's very much part of our subconscious minds, and everything we do.

I would like to discuss Jennifer's story:

Jennifer is Vietnamese American. Growing up, she was mainly surrounded by her Viet community. Because of this, she was often told that "Black kids were dirty" and was given the impression that she should not be associated with the black kids at her school. Soon, she grew to realize her privilege, and her own cultural stereotypes. I chose this story because the discussion of race in different cultures is especially notable in Jennifer’s story. I think it’s important to realize that the discussion of race goes back far far into other cultures as well, and because of one opinion a long time ago, this has been reflected throughout cultures now. Even growing up I’ve been told, “Don’t marry a black person,” “they have different work ethics,” “they’re not like us.” I find it ridiculous that it’s taken us so long to just accept each other as human beings, and that character traits are not due to race or the color of a person’s skin. After so many years, haven’t we made any progress throughout cultures?

Throughout my reading I read one little blurb about the rights of black women and their own bodies. I wanted to emphasize this post especially since this is still happening today. In the past, it explains that when black women gave birth, their children were immediately made the property of a master’s, showing that they never had a chance to be free in the first place. I wanted to specifically delve into black women’s pregnancy healthcare. I’m not sure if I read it in this book or not, but it is proven that black women have a higher mortality than that of white women when giving birth (three times more likely to have fatalities). They are also more likely to experience issues throughout the pregnancy. This is not because of chance, this is because of racial disparities, and this is not okay.

Another blurb I read was about achieving autonomy relating to racial topics. In the blurb, it says that Melina was finally able to reach autonomy by not only abandoning cultural and institutional racism, but also disregarding personal racism. Here, we can use Melina as a model. She is open to criticism regarding race, she is open to receiving information about race and how she can better understand disparities. This is important that everyone understands, and should be taught to every single person.

I actually really enjoyed reading the first chapter of this book. It’s super enlightening to read different perspectives based on different cultures, genders, and traditional beliefs. It also forces the reader to see that race DOES impact many things, and often dictates how our world is run.

Boston, MA, US
Posts: 15

How does racial identity play into how people see us?

1.) I simultaneously agree and disagree with Winona and Priya’s statements. I agree that race and racism are cancer that severely impacts our society for the worst, but I don’t believe that the existence of the United States necessarily demanded the presence of them. The existence of the United States was a result of a group of spirited people seeking to overthrow, and gain separation from, a tyrant; the American colonists sought autonomy and democracy, and in doing so they drove out the British Empire from their territory. Whilst a core facet of America was the horrific “manifest destiny” mantra which correlated with incredible malfeasance and barbaric actions being undertaken upon the native population of this country. Nevertheless, the inception and EXISTENCE of the United States has very little to do with race. Thus, I would rework this quote as follows:

“The United States is, to a significant and noticeable extent, SUSTAINED by racism and race.”

Apart from that second statement, I agree with all other statements and messages made by Winona and Priya in the novel. Racism and the idea of race as a whole is an extremely potent democracy-harming, human-created construct, slowly disintegrating our worldwide societal structure and creating more hate and polarization globally. Bafflingly despite this, the world continues to utilize it! Only humans could be so foolish as to harness the engine of our own destruction for their own capital gain.

2.) One first-person response that I found to be particularly interesting was Rocky’s interview responses in chapter 10. A seemingly long-term resident of Sundance Wyoming questions his presence in his community due to the racial prejudices he encounters in the predominantly white environment in which he resides. The longer-term resident white populations racially discriminated against, and gatekept elements of their neighborhood from, the racial minorities in their community. Many communities are plagued with individuals who stifle their community with nonsensical racist dogma.

  • I also thought Rocky’s story was deeply insightful and valuable for our quest as a nation to quell the spread of racist dogma. Rocky is also a fellow history buff, and thus approached his interview with a more familiar tone; it seemed as if I was listening to a version of me describe the scenario. I appreciated it more as a result of identifying with the subject. His response also included a brilliant margin-section on what we can do, as everyday citizens, to remove ourselves from the sidelines and actively strive to make a change in our communities.

3.) As previously mentioned, one piece of margin information which I thought was valuable was the section in chapter 10 (page 321) where the book includes information on what we, as everyday citizens, can do to make a positive and lasting change in our communities. It included sections about recommended actions we can partake in, and a 3-step formula to help us become more effective societal-change implementers. I especially appreciate this section as we often hear too much about the problems afflicting our societies and less about what we can do to revert and eliminate them. This information is valuable in our quest as a species to stop the spread of the virulent harmful dogma plaguing our world once and for all.

4.) After reading the assigned passages, and briefly skimming over some of the other passages in the novel, I’ve come to really enjoy the book. The distinctive format and the interesting perspectives featured in the book helped facilitate my understanding of what the book was trying to teach me, as well as helping me better understand the role that race plays in our society. The role that race plays, while seemingly obvious, is something that I’ve never quite seen the full extent of, and thus never properly grasped, until now. With the vivid and highly stirring introduction, and excerpts of people’s stories, featured in the novel, I feel much more in tune with the problems that afflict so many people in our nation and am recently more motivated to make a change. The book also provided me with what may seem to be a true yet depressing realization that many facets of our society are driven by race, which may cause others to feel hopeless, after reading this book I feel even more optimistic about our future as a country. This is because I discern that, as more and more people are starting to comprehend racial injustices in the country [many experience them first hand], we can start to improve and revert these negative tumors in our society. I feel confident that the more people are educated on these issues, the better we as a country can properly move forward, using books like this as a guide with which to judge whether or not a new policy would negatively impact the society we inhabit. As so many people are noticing these changes, we have the potential, as spirited individuals ourselves, to band together and make an impact, now more than ever. Such an opportunity, where the citizenry has such an impact on the rule of their state, may not be around for much longer, as we lean towards solidifying the changes made to set the precedent for the next century, we have to act as soon as possible if we hope to revert such injustices.

Boston, MA, US
Posts: 15

Humorous comment from my friend, Terrance:

"Division and profit over Human rights and democracy is the true American way!"

Boston, Massachusetts , US
Posts: 18

Racial Identity

1) I agree with Winona and Priya´s assumptions about race. Race is a construct, created by humans because of their tendency to organize people into categories. There are no biological differences between races and despite some differences in appearance and culture. It became a way to assert power and exploit people without feeling like they were doing any moral wrongdoings. From that racist ideology and institutions became ingrained into American society.

2) I chose the story of Chef Tu because I enjoyed the way he used food to describe the blend of cultures and identities of the world. He is from the island of Vietnam and is now a chef in America. He hates when people say his food isn't Vietnamese enough because he doesn't think its fair that it doesn't fit their idea of being Vietnamese so therefore it can't be. I thought it was very interesting the way he used food to connect every culture. Every culture has the same ingredients, they just are prepared in slightly different ways to make each unique to the place. For him, food is comforting because it creates bridges between different communities. For me, food is a very important thing to my family. My parents are both big cooks and always wanted us to be adventurous. It has always been a universal connector between worlds for me because everywhere I travel we try all different foods and each seems to have an element of the other. That was something that helped me realize that everyone is not as different as we are made out to be.

3) a.The first margin note that stood out to me was the one about cultural appropriation. This is an issue that always irks me when people misunderstand the gravity and definition of it. The margin explains that cultural appropriation is when the ascetic of one culture is borrowed from another and celebrated in a way it never was for the originator. This means that there is a line and cultural appreciation can be a thing when conducted in the right manner, but when a culture has something stolen from them that had been apart of their identity for years and suddenly another begins to celebrate it as if it was theirs all along is a very difficult and unfair.

b. The next margin that stood out to me was one pointing out how Justin does not just say Africa, rather Senegal, West Africa. It explains that Africa is so genetically and physically varied all throughout the continent that just saying, ¨ Africa ¨ is so broad and not descriptive enough. Throughout my education, until recently I feel as though I have not been taught enough about the cultural diversity within Africa which I feel should not be the case.

4) I enjoy this book so far. It is definitely talking about some dense topics and its helpful to see the views of different people to see the outlook that distinct cultures and people have in the world. The format reminds me of the book about the different views of people on 9/11 a little.

Boston, MA, US
Posts: 14
  1. I agree with Winona and Priya that race and racism does impact everything around us, even if it isn’t completely “obvious”. I think that it is odd that there always needs to be some sort of separation of races, even when it doesn’t seem completely necessary in the situation. In addition, I do think that it is important to note how aware we become of race at a young age. I think that many have experiences of realizing their racial differences to their peers, even when they’re just in elementary school. I guess that it shows how race has subconsciously influenced how we think and how we were brought up.
  2. Queen Esther’s story was one that I thought was extremely important to read. She describes so many inventions that were created by Black people and our society never credits Black people, most of the time the credit goes to a white person who essentially stole the idea or the credit isn’t even given. She describes how so many of our everyday objects were created by Black people but people don’t know or don’t acknowledge who actually created them. One of the most compelling examples was the modern field of gynecology and its origins. Society never acknowledges what the Black women that Sims experimented on/tortured had to go through in order to give us modern day gynecology. I think that it really shows how American society ignores all of these advancements made by Black people because they were Black. Furthermore, I would also like to add that it really shows how Black history isn’t fully taught, there only seems to be a focus on slavery and the civil rights movement, if anything. Nearly all of the examples that Queen Esther mentioned were unknown to me and I think that that is a consequence of never being taught Black contributions in school. I think that it is important that schools also start to teach Black contributions because we take so many of their inventions for granted.
  3. The first factoid that I thought was interesting is how public schools in Texas are starting to wrongly rewrite history textbooks in order to ignore struggles that were faced by Black people. More people should know about this because this is literal falsification of history which is intentionally refusing to teach how white people have created these systemic barriers. In addition, the US was practically built by slavery and to have that be written out shows how society is still trying to erase the experiences of Black people. The second factoid that I thought was interesting is how there are 54 ethnic groups in Vietnam, yet they are generalized as all being “Vietnamese”. I thought that this was also interesting to think about with the scope of the entirety of Asia, like just imagine how many ethnic groups there are in all of Asia then. On those forms that ask for ethnicity, there is always just one box for the entirety of Asia AND the pacific islands. I think that it is interesting that we group ALL of these groups under one term even though they all have differences from each other.
  4. I do like this book. I like how it gives real examples of people’s experiences and is engaging because I can relate to or understand the topics they are discussing. I think that personal experiences and examples are the best way to bring a point across and finding these common denominators with the stories helps me to understand the main point better.
Freight Farm Enjoyer
Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 19

How Does Racial Identity Play Into How People See Us?

1. I definitely agree that race and racism impacts every day of our lives because, like it or not, people are going to look at us and make assumptions about us based on our race. I think the one thing I disagree with is the idea that race should be described as a "cancer". I think in an ideal society we would all be able to acknowledge that people differ in race and ethnicity but we would not make any assumptions or hold any biases against people with regards to race, but the existence of an idea of race is not necessarily a bad thing.

2. a. I thought one of the most interesting passages was that of Liz. In it she describes how when traveling to places outside of America, where it was truly uncommon of people to see a black person, people would stare at her like an animal in a zoo or even have the audacity to ask to take a picture of her.

b. I think this was one of the most important passages because it really shows how people are inclined to act when they aren't exposed to diversity at all in their lives. It's likely that people in places like the Czech Republic genuinely saw nothing wrong or disrespectful with taking a picture of a black woman just because she was there, as they had just never seen one before. It's the nature of the world that some people are just going to grow up in environments without much variation in ethnicity, but it's easy to see how that can lead to the prejudice and racism in parts of the world where more wide varieties of ethnicities coexist.

3. a. On page 32, there is an annotation which gives a brief explanation of how "Chinatowns" were formed as a result of Chinese immigrants banding together after the government denied them a lot of rights. There is also an annotation of page 23 bringing up that public schools in Texas were given a new Civil War curriculum, trying to make it seem like it wasn't centered around slavery in the South.

b. I think that the history of how Chinatowns formed as a result of oppression by the US government is a great example of how even aside from direct segregation such as redlining, any discrimination based on race is likely to lead to some form of segregation, forcibly driving people apart from one another. I think the information about public schools censoring the true causes of the Civil War is particularly relevant now, as there is a continuous problem in this country with specific states trying to change class curriculums to better fit their worldview, no matter how corrupted it may be, and to remind people that racism is not an issue of the past, and it is something that is continuously being pushed even in our schools.

4. I think it's really fascinating to read this book because it really demonstrates just how many people of different backgrounds are packed into this one country and how there really is a never-ending number of stories to tell about people. One of my favorite parts of the book so far is that it makes it fairly obvious that although people live and grow up in a lot of different conditions, they are all united by the fact that they seem deeply unhappy with the way that race is treated and regarded in this country. Some talk about how we can change that while others just go into detail about how it has affected them personally, but reading them all one after the other really makes you realize that we have a long way to go until we can truly say that this is a country which is accepting of everyone.

Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 19

How does racial identity play into how people see us?

1. Yes, i agree with Winona + Priya's assumptions about the role of race. Race plays a part in our lives every single day, no matter how much you think it does. It doesnt matter what color your skin is, it will effect you, and it already has effected you, in millions of different ways. When the construct of race was formed, it automatically divided people. Instead of everyone just living peacefully as one species, we divided ourselves by the tone of our skin, and now its impossible to go a day without somehow being impacted by it. People gain advantages from their skin color, some people gain disadvantages, some people are treated differently, and its devastating to think about how many people have died, simply because of the color of their skin. When we are born into this world, we have no control over how we will look, but somehow the way we look could end up being the reason we are then taken out of this world. The writers also said that their heads spin when they really start to think about it, and i agree with that too.

2a. The second girl, Alexa, stood out to me. She came from Mexico when she was young, and went to multiple American schools. Although she was mexican, she claims that she was different compared to other hispanic people. she had lighter skin than most, so she would be compared to white people. A line that really stood out to me was "They were calling me rich too, and it started opening my eyes to this connection between color and socioeconomic status." She mentions how she went from being bullied when she was around younger darker skinned kids, but as she gre older, she started getting treated better, better than those darker skinned kids. The fact that she is an undocumented immigrant is also important, especially i todays society.

2b. I think her portion of this chapter was a significant read. Its good to know how every race is treated differently, aand she talks about her experiences very well. The quote i mentioned was also important, because socioeconomics play a huge role on human treatment. It tends to be that if you are assumed to have more money, you will be treated better than those who may not "appear" as if they have any wealth. This is just another classic example of race creating unfair stereotypes and unneccessary issues.

3. In vic's story, the sidenote things on the bottom of her first page talk all about chinatowns and the old ways in which Chinese people were treated poorly and almost un-humanlike. It gives facts like how Chinese people were prohibited from owning property, voting, and even from marrying other people that werent Chinese. They were not treated like citizens. These people had no say over basic human rights, to the point where they were quite literally being treated like aliens. They were not welcome as citizens. I learned so many facts just from these short 2 or 3 paragraphs, and everyone else should too.

4. I really like this book so far. I think its refreshing to actually hear from people and their perspectives/experiences. I feel like if everyone in the world took some time out of their days to read some of these stories, i guarentee many feelings/opinions would change. Its so much more impacful hearing these stories straight from the people that experienced them. It helps create humanity and sympathy, both two thins we need more of in the world today.

West Roxbury, MA, US
Posts: 20

The authors are correct in their assertion that race plays an important part of every American’s life. We, as Americans, are often surrounded by people of other cultures and races, and we stereotype and are stereotyped by the people around us. Even if it’s unconscious, we allow peoples’ race to trickle into the way we think about or treat them. If I’m talking to someone White, for example, I may use slightly different verbage or mannerisms than if I was talking to some Asian, Black, Hispanic, etc, and vice versa. I don’t try to do these things, but they happen subconsciously from years of implicit bias. However, I also don’t agree with the simplification the authors make when calling race a “cancer”. Many people take pride in their race and find comfort in people like them. Also, oftentimes with different races comes different cultures, which should always be celebrated.

Vic is an Asian American who shares her experiences being part of the so-called “model minority”. She discusses how she’s never had a problem associating with White people because they likely felt more comfortable around her. However, as an Asian, she also feels like she’s categorized as a sidekick for her white friends, but she wants to have her own voice. I think this post is memorable because it talks about the viewpoints from someone of a traditionally privileged group. Vic’s classmates didn’t treat her like they probably would with any other minority group, but they still let out subtle hints of racism. She described the scene of her and her classmates watching Vietnamese being murdered during the Vietnam War and her friends not even flinching, yet they turned away when a pig was being killed.

On page 13, there’s a piece of commentary talking about how Texas has changed its history curriculum, brushing over topics of racism. I thought this was really interesting because I always wondered how certain parts of history are taught in the areas where they happened, and it’s apparent that sometimes it’s just avoided. However, I think this change should be known because history shouldn’t be altered. We learn history to see the mistakes we’ve made in the past and avoid them, so brushing over the mistakes erases a huge part. Another note I found informative was on page 30. It gave Vernon Francois’s definition of cultural appropriation, defining it as a culture borrowing an aesthetic from another without anything done for its originator. I liked this note because I never really got a full definition of cultural appropriation; I had only seen it used here and there on social media. Francois’s definition makes it alot easier to understand, though.

I like the book so far. I like the format it’s presented in: an easy-to-read account of stories from people of all minority groups. I think, in that sense, it’s very well rounded and teaches the readers how to tackle all sorts of racism.

Boston, MA, US
Posts: 21

How does racial identity play into how people see us?

1. I completely agree with Winona’s and Priya’s assumptions about the role of race in our daily lives. In today’s society, race has become a major component of people’s identities. Unfortunately, our country was built on the biases and discrimnation against anybody not considered “white”. Because of this, a lot of people have an unconscious sense of internalized racism. This has become so deeply rooted in people that sometimes we don’t even acknowledge the extent to which we are being racist at times. I wish race was never used to divide people or determine their significance. More often than not, people have already formed implicit biases upon first impressions of somebody before truly meeting them. Consequently, they let these pre-developed ideas govern the way they see certain people which falls into the category of how racism can be a cancer to the public. Just because of your race you inherited upon birth, your opportunities in life can be limited which only highlights how unjust our current system is.

2a. A first person account that really spoke to me was Liz’s. In her narrative, Liz shared with us her different experiences upon touring different places in the world. To begin her story, Liz commented on how during her visit to the Czech Republic, people had begun to ask to take pictures of her. She describes her feeling as though she was some sort of object and form of entertainment for them. Upon touring other countries, it was only until she declared that she was an American that she would receive any form of respect or recognition. It wasn’t until her visit to East and South Africa that Liz finally felt a sense of belonging. As a Nigerian woman growing up in America, she was always underrepresented in the minority. Walking through and seeing a representation of herself in Africa gave her confidence in her identity. The narrative closes as Liz undermines American history and the events that led up to these implicit biases. She notes how she ironically felt free in Africa—not America.

2b. The biggest reason for why I believe this is such an important story to hear is because it undermines America and its promises. Americans often pride themselves on the idea that their country is a land of freedom and liberty. However, this is not the case. Liz expresses how she never really felt any sense of freedom in America—in fact, it was only in East and South Africa where she felt any form of belonging. Furthermore, it highlights the dangers of underrepresentation in society. Liz, who always felt a “burden…growing up in a place where [she] was outnumbered”, is a true portrayal of this. Because of the fact that she was a minority, she never saw a true representation of herself. In contrast, walking through Africa and seeing people alike gave her a sense of confidence and belonging. From this, we should learn the importance of giving everyone a fair representation—not just in politics, but in their societies as well. Without doing so, you run the risk of limiting true freedom and liberty.

3a. One factoid I found interesting was how in 2015, public schools in Texas adopted a new curriculum that omitted slavery, segregation, and other sensitive topics on the subject of race. Another detail I was surprised to hear was how hotels don’t offer shampoo that caters to the natural black hair .

3b. To start, I found this factoid to be a piece of evidence to prove how people don’t want to be associated with the bad pasts. Texas is trying to avoid any association with the fact that they contributed greatly to racism in America. It is important to acknowledge our past, for that is the only way we can learn from it. Regarding the second factoid, I just think some of the ways black people are discriminated against are completely ridiculous. I never would have imagined that hotels limit their shampoo to only be healthy when working with “white” hair. This is just one example of many that serve as ways to prove how black people face a constant disadvantage, even in things that don’t seem like there is segregation.

4. I really enjoyed reading through all the stories. They not only informed me of the different experiences people face and better educate me on racism, but they also provided numerous factoid things that were really interesting to read about. It discusses things that never really have a place to be discussed normally.

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