In six words, tell us your thoughts on race

headshot of Michele Norris
Michele Norris is an award-winning journalist and founder of The Race Card Project.
Rebecca Hale

Before George Floyd was killed, before there was a national reckoning on race, there was The Race Card Project.

It started in 2010, when journalist Michele Norris was on a book tour, promoting her deeply personal memoir “The Grace of Silence.” Norris began asking people who would show up at her events to think of the word “race,” and then write down just six words to capture their most honest and intimate expressions.

What she heard astounded her.

Native Americans, America’s invisible invisible invisible.”

With kids, I’m Dad. Alone … thug

I’m ashamed for my ancestors’ race.”

Before you keep reading ...

MPR News is made by Members. Gifts from individuals fuel the programs that you and your neighbors rely on. Donate today to power news, analysis, and community conversations for all.

I am not an exotic creature.” 

The simple question quickly took on a life of its own. Norris began by leaving blank postcards in cities she visited. Eventually, the project became a website where anyone could submit their stories. 

Related link: The Race Card Project: Six Word Essays

At this point, Norris has now received more than half a million answers to her question, from all 50 states and around a hundred countries and territories.

“I had no idea there were so many people who were so eager to talk about race and identity that they would share their thoughts with a stranger, knowing that their stories could be posted on a website for anyone to see,” she wrote.

Thursday, Norris joined host Kerri Miller to talk about what she’s learned about America and the fluid notion of identity from The Race Card Project. 


To listen to the full conversation you can use the audio player above.

Subscribe to the MPR News with Kerri Miller podcast on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify or RSS.