Welcome to RACE RELAY®, a multimedia project presented, with the Price School’s participation, as part of USC’s Visions and Voices initiative.
RACE RELAY® uses personal stories of racism shared on this page to develop an interactive theatrical production, with performances and community dialogues scheduled in February and March. Creative artists will present a live, dynamic performance that combines these recollections of real experiences of faculty, staff, students and alumni of USC and other communities with projected images from various media.
For information on the free performance and community dialogue dates, as well as the creative artists participating in this project, please visit this website. RSVPs open at 9 a.m. Jan. 10.
We extend a special thank you to those of you who shared your stories as part of RACE RELAY®.
Peace and be well,
LaVonna B. Lewis
Director, Diversity and Inclusion Initiatives
USC Price School of Public Policy
Poem: Box Cutter
Why would you bother to engage with me if you thought you knew all about me?
Does my accent give me away?
Does my tongue profess any likeliness to the one whom you think you know already?
Story: No One Could Figure Out What I Was
Growing up a mixed race girl in South Central L.A., twenty blocks from the USC campus, in the 50’s through the 60’s exposed me to many instances of racism. When I went to school, all the forms that needed to be filled out by our parents gave us the choice of marking white or black. I could never understand this because I was mixed with many nationalities, and thought everyone was.
Story: Understanding and Facing Racism and Hate for the First Time
I am an Associate Professor at USC and I would like to share a story of racism and hate that I experienced in elementary school and that had a significant and ultimately positive impact on my life, though at the time the experience seemed horrible. Until now I have rarely shared this with anyone including family and friends, but at this point in my life I feel compelled to tell the story.
Story: They Denied Me the Whole Time Because I was Asian
It happened in Florida, as I was about to board on the bus and showed my ticket and student ID, the driver thought I was using a fake ID. I did not have a passport with me at that time because it was just a short domestic travel and did not need one. He said, “I do not believe when Asians say something, they are the ones who are good at making fake stuff.”
Story: Where was the Presence of Equal Opportunity?
I began working for an office years ago with well over 10 years of relevant work experience at a Fortune 500 company under my belt. During those years, I watched my management team repeatedly promote individuals who I trained personally who had less seniority and significantly less experience who were of other races to positions that allowed them to surpass me in annual compensation.
Story: Inspiring New Generations to Fight for Civil Rights
I consider myself a “civil rights baby” as I grew up in Memphis, Tennessee during the height of the civil rights movement. My Catholic church was at the center of organizing the garbage workers to strike and the community churches to march in protest. My priests were involved with inviting Dr. King to Memphis.
Story: Arguing Against Assumptions
When I was an undergraduate student at the University of California, San Diego, a proposition to eliminate the option for people to select their race/ethnicity on forms was introduced. Proposition 54 was touted as a “colorblind initiative” that would eliminate bias and promote fairness in selection processes.
Story: We fight. We fight. We fight.
I was the 19-year-old who brought her six-week-old baby back to campus; moved into family housing; worked as a peer counselor; volunteered with associated student government; received a University Service Award; spoke at Black graduation; and earned double majors in Black Studies and Economics. The back story is my accomplishments came with a price.
Story: I Dreaded Coming into the Office.
One of my supervisors and I were in a meeting. We were discussing a new project for a scholar, a black female professor in our program. My supervisor ended saying “… and her hair was completely unprofessional for the meeting” and laughed.