Six Words: Ask Who I Am, Not What

A submission to the Race Card Project, which asks people to describe their experience with race in six words.

 

 

Cliff Owen/AP

This month NPR begins a series of occasional conversations about The Race Card Project, where people can submit their thoughts on race and cultural identity in six words. Thousands of people have shared their six-word stories and every so often NPR Host/Special Correspondent Michele Norris will dip into the trove of six-word stories to explore issues surrounding race and cultural identity for Morning Edition. You can find hundreds of six-wordsubmissions and submit your own at www.theracecardproject.com.

Jessica Hong, second from left, at brunch with friends. "Though I am clearly the lone Asian person, I don't think I've ever felt like the 'Asian friend' amongst these girls," she says.

Jessica Hong, second from left, at brunch with friends. "Though I am clearly the lone Asian person, I don't think I've ever felt like the 'Asian friend' amongst these girls," she says.

 

 

Courtesy of Amy Heather

Sometimes the themes that surface in The Race Card Project involve deep philosophical differences and seismic divides over fairness, opportunity, equal treatment and festering historic wounds. And then sometimes the six-word essays reveal personal memories or smaller moments in everyday life. For example, dozens of people have submitted Race Cards that touch upon a simple, seemingly innocuous encounter revolving around a question that goes something like this: Where do you really come from?

On paper it looks like a straightforward expression of curiosity or perhaps a social icebreaker. But dozens of people have said that their heart breaks a little when they hear that inquiry.

Jessica Hong is a 29-year-old reservationist living in New Orleans. She is originally from Seattle and she heard about The Race Card Project via comedian W. Kamau Bell on Twitter. As a Korean-American, Hong is constantly asked about her heritage and those queries became the basis for her six words: "Ask who I am, not what."

Listen here.