There is no monolith of Blackness.

Being Black is not all Black things to all Black people. A large part of it, sometimes, is simply being not-white. I’m not white. But my not-whiteness is more than just a sometimes-unfortunate skin condition. The not-whiteness is soul-deep—a mentality.

Beetle Bailey

Whenever I apply for something online or over the phone, I'm not white, like a job or a school. The first thing I wonder when the communication ends well is: “Oh, dear. Do they know I’m Black?”

I mean, did I type or speak too code-switched? Maybe it’s just me, but…


I always loved being a librarian. I’m a collector of information and stories. Until now I have only been a word keeper. But tonight I’m going to be a word “speaker” and share my story. As a kid, I believe my life doesn’t have its own meaning. My ideas come from wanting to be someone else. When we got our first TV, I start play-acting. I always thought of my father as a strong person but as my words, as my world opened up with TV I find other people I believe in and are stronger. I…


My mother was my hero. She was the prettiest woman in the world, 5' 11 with caramel skin, short hair, amazing style, and swag. She had a body to die for. You’d never know she gave birth six times. At one point in her life she was a model for Ebony magazine. I wanted to be just like her.

My earliest memory of my mother is from when I’m six years old. We’re walking down the street one day. I think we’re going for ice cream, but we stop in front of Kmart. She kneels and says…


I’m not a teacher or a nurse, but I often play one on TV. See — producers and writers like to cast women of color as nurturers — teachers and nurses being the most popular forms in the acting world. Like the Modern Day Aunt Jemima — they are there to instruct and care-take.

This role seems to have permeated my life in the real world, as well. White people seem to gravitate to me for caretaking, instruction, and nurturing regardless of our relationship. …


As an 18-year-old girl in the early fifties, I possess very little knowledge of my body or reproduction. It will be twenty years before The Supreme Court passes Roe v Wade into law, making abortion legal. Not only is abortion illegal, so is contraception in many states. Not until 1974 does contraception become legal for unmarried couples. I know where babies come from. That’s about it. For a long time, I believe I am too skinny and too anemic to get pregnant. It’s my magical thinking.

Betty MacDonald, 1956

After college, writing radio copy and hosting an afternoon disk jockey…


I grew up in a white neighborhood. And I mean white, only .6% Black.

Growing up around all white people messes my mind up. I have a sense of self-hate that’s hard to overcome. There’s massive pressure to be what the white world expects of me, fit in with people who don’t look like me, fit their standards of perfection — quiet, proper, well-dressed.

While receiving so many negative messages about people who do look like me, I grew up thinking that I was better than other black people because I spoke, behaved, and the way my…


It’s 1967, I am 19 years-old, and I am pregnant. I don’t understand how this can be. I think it’s impossible to get pregnant the first time you sleep with someone. I cannot have a baby.

Diana Freid, 1967

My boyfriend asks around and gets a name and a number. I have $100, and he borrows the rest. I meet his friend’s girlfriend, Mary, a nice Catholic girl. She tells me what to expect. I think, she is not the kind of girl who would have an abortion, and yet she did. If she can do it, so can I…


I was 19-years-old in the fall of 1966 when my friend Barbara and I drove my two-tone 1956 Chevrolet to Baltimore, Maryland, where I was to have an illegal abortion.

One afternoon, a few weeks prior, I had returned from school, pulled into my driveway, parked, and stepped out of the car. I was loaded with books and bags and papers. Suddenly, Bo, my ex-boyfriend, was right there. I screamed from the unexpectedness of him. He was angry; I broke up with him. He grabbed my arm; the books and papers went flying. I thought he would…


At 24 years old, I don’t believe I’m a good mother. I don’t do drugs or neglect my children, but I’m unmarried, on welfare, and struggle to bond with my four children. I got pregnant when I was 15, had my daughter at 16, and 3 other children by the time I’m 24. It’s a generational curse. My grandmother had children when she was 14, my mother had children when she was very young. Babies having babies — a cycle I’m not even aware of until I’m older.

Rita Worthington
Rita Worthington
Rita Worthington

I’m told NO ONE will marry me because NO…


Throughout my scholastic career, I’m praised for being a “Wonderful straight-A student.” I’m the student body president and the leader in multiple choirs and bands. I spent six to seven days at church. I attend every bible study, worship service, and benefit. From a young age, I’m taught to walk with a certain persona; there was a level of professionalism and grace I’m expected to carry myself with. No matter how I feel or who I really want to be. Who I am doesn’t matter, as long as my family appears to be perfect. …

TMI Project

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