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Posted on Tue, Mar 12, 2013 : 2:54 p.m.

NPR's Michele Norris visits University of Michigan and asks students to submit '6-word truths' on race

By Kellie Woodhouse

If someone asked you to summarize your thoughts on race in six words, what would you say?

Michele Norris, a correspondent who has worked with NPR, "Meet the Press" and ABC News, visited University of Michigan's Ann Arbor campus Tuesday and did exactly that.

Norris walked through the Michigan Union and the Diag approaching students and encouraging them to submit a six-word statement on race. The statement is part of Norris' race card project, which she is bringing to U-M this semester.


Michele Norris hit the Diag at the University of Michigan on Tuesday to encourage students to write six-word statements about race.

Kellie Woodhouse |

It's her project's first partnership with a university.

Norris, who spoke at U-M during a Martin Luther King Jr. symposium last year, was invited by the college to bring her race card project to Ann Arbor. The project is one of many events occurring this semester under U-M's "understanding race" theme.

"It grew out of a family memoir I wrote. It was my way to try to ease conversations about race," Norris said of the race card project.

"The university approached me because they were doing this campus-wide examination of race in an attempt to help people understand each other better. I thought it was a perfect partnership because that's what I try to do with the race card project: allow people to learn what life is like as lived by someone else," Norris continued, calling the statements "six-word truths as to what life is like."

Norris met U-M President Mary Sue Coleman and other administrators this morning and discussed the project. The administrators crafted their own six-word truths on race.

Sterling Christopher Sherman, a senior informatics major, was approached by Norris on the Diag. On his card, he wrote: "Not a biological construct. Social construct."

Sherman said the project raises awareness about issues of race.

"We should really be looking at people, more than just skin color," he said. "I think this project is really something that is trying to push that positive effort forward."

Norris plans to return to Ann Arbor on April 18 for a town hall-style discussion on race. On that day, the completed race cards will be collected and displayed on the Diag.

A sampling of race card entries from Ann Arbor:
  • Stereotypes shape expectations, destroys self-image
  • I am not my hair #India.Arie
  • Double consciousness hinders minority progression worldwide
  • Race/Ethnicity does not equal Nationality
  • Race means acceptance of our differences
  • Better than before, but not good
  • We are all a little racist
  • Everywhere, yet not even skin deep

Kellie Woodhouse covers higher education for Reach her at or 734-623-4602 and follow her on twitter.



Mon, Mar 18, 2013 : 5:41 p.m.

Chlorophyll Green Pigment Defends Human Race.


Sun, Mar 17, 2013 : 6:18 p.m.

Melanin is present in human skin.


Thu, Mar 14, 2013 : 5:59 p.m.

Race and Identity Water and Oil:


Thu, Mar 14, 2013 : 12:28 a.m.

The sixth sheik's sixth sheep's sick.


Wed, Mar 13, 2013 : 6:54 p.m.

God Helps Those, Who Help Themselves


Wed, Mar 13, 2013 : 5:23 p.m.

Simple: "things never work along those lines". However, we still have a terribly long way to go before they actually don't. Racism is big-time alive, still today.


Wed, Mar 13, 2013 : 5:19 p.m.

Man is a Created Spiritual Being.


Wed, Mar 13, 2013 : 4:08 p.m.

With a little artistic license: "Take each person for them selves."


Wed, Mar 13, 2013 : 1:26 p.m.

References to anthropological races get deleted.


Wed, Mar 13, 2013 : 1:07 p.m.

Here's my six words on race: It is a crutch for many.

arvin hopkins

Wed, Mar 13, 2013 : 12:01 p.m.

Baby Momma Baby Daddy No future

P. J. Murphy

Wed, Mar 13, 2013 : noon

Race is what we make it.

Tim Hornton

Wed, Mar 13, 2013 : 1:53 a.m.

There is no race for humans. There is culture and the shade color of your skin. In addition most people either believe they have a common human ancestor created by God or a common monkey type thing ancestor (after WW2 the "evidence" changed that we all come from the same ape animal instead of "races" like jews and blacks "evolving" from lesser apes). Germany and the rest of Europe including America went away from peoples being less evolved after the racism of 6 miilion Jews were killed. The rhetoric was social darwinism but is politacally incorrect today. Japan actually used social darwinism too to justify their cruelty in Asia during WW2.

write winger

Wed, Mar 13, 2013 : 1:10 a.m.

Let's get with the program now!


Wed, Mar 13, 2013 : 1:07 a.m.

The Culture Matters More than Color.


Wed, Mar 13, 2013 : 12:15 a.m.

Daytona, Darlington, Bristol, Brooklyn, Talledaga, Rockingham!


Wed, Mar 13, 2013 : 12:12 a.m.

Kentucky Derby is better than Preakness.


Tue, Mar 12, 2013 : 11:42 p.m.

100-yard-dash haters are racists.


Tue, Mar 12, 2013 : 11:39 p.m.

I'd pay to see deleted comments.

Tim Hornton

Tue, Mar 12, 2013 : 11:11 p.m.

This sounds like something a 1st grade class would do.


Tue, Mar 12, 2013 : 10:19 p.m.

"What if we were all blind?"

G. Orwell

Tue, Mar 12, 2013 : 9:35 p.m.

Our government should promote bring various races together to help pursue the American dream of life, liberty and pursuit of happiness. Rather than trying to divide us by intentionally creating racial tensions as they attempted to do during the Trayvon Martin incident. What a fiasco that was. George Zimmerman wasn't even white but tried to make him into a white racist.

Shawn Jackson

Wed, Mar 13, 2013 : 11:58 p.m.

White hispanic has always been a term for people of Spanish heritage. That's why there's a sub category on the census both for Hispanic AND Hispanic (non-white). The media may have injected a large amount of hyperbolic hyperventilating about the case, but they didn't invent that.


Wed, Mar 13, 2013 : 4:05 p.m.

So true Jim, so true. The situation that occurred was sad, but the whole media escapade was disgusting.

Jim Osborn

Wed, Mar 13, 2013 : 12:58 p.m.

This was not the government, but rather the no longer neutral press that coined the term "White Hispanic" for George Zimmerman. It was the media that was hungry and eager for a white on black crime to report on, If "Hispanic" didn't fit their preconceived mold they would slightly change the mold with words, hence; "White Hispanic" or abbreviated to "white". Now we have the desired story. This was the press, not the government.


Wed, Mar 13, 2013 : midnight

Surprise, the UM tries to do just what you call for with affirmative action.


Tue, Mar 12, 2013 : 9:19 p.m.

An expression of a genetic phenotype.


Tue, Mar 12, 2013 : 8:21 p.m.

What race really means to me personally? Probably something more like: "I'm not sure who you are" Although of course, maybe it's the cultural markers I sometimes feel unsure about when I talk to people of other races. Are they being polite or do they really want me to have another cup of coffee? That sounded bossy - but maybe it was just a cultural directness? All kids have bravado, but maybe that kid is actually stuck up? It's that fine line of interpretation that throws me sometimes and keeps us just a bit apart.


Tue, Mar 12, 2013 : 7:48 p.m.

How about: "No longer slaves, accept personal responsibilities" All the comments above suggest that someone else is to blame for a particular race's lot in life. May have been true 40 yeas ago but there are plenty of minorities that have "made it" and plenty of opportunities for others. I have trouble believing that the racial inequity in this country can simply be boiled down to skin color. Many minorities thrive here. If this comment doesn't get posted, then it is part of the problem. For the record, I am a minority.

Shawn Jackson

Wed, Mar 13, 2013 : 11:41 p.m.

Don't confuse class issues with racial ones. Just because some can excel in our capitalistic society doesn't mean that there still are not institutional, societal, and cultural obstacles that are as minor as being assumed to be good at math to as major as being assumed to be a criminal for being the wrong color in the wrong neighborhood.


Tue, Mar 12, 2013 : 7:36 p.m.

A timed competition to determine speed


Tue, Mar 12, 2013 : 7:29 p.m.

Affirmative Action is Nothing But Racism!


Tue, Mar 12, 2013 : 7:29 p.m.

"Making money by stirring the pot"


Tue, Mar 12, 2013 : 9:33 p.m.

BuckBeave... Let me help you.... He was referring to the clicks they will get from this article.


Tue, Mar 12, 2013 : 9:06 p.m.

Frankly, as a minority I find it insulting to suggest that I couldn't make it without the white man's help.


Tue, Mar 12, 2013 : 7:27 p.m.

There is only the human race.

Macabre Sunset

Tue, Mar 12, 2013 : 7:08 p.m.

Don't hate me because I'm white. Honestly, I feel like admitting I'm white these days conjures up images of people wearing hoods in 1960s Mississippi. But I'm just the great grandson of people who immigrated to America to flee persecution in Europe. They weren't exactly welcomed here, but it was far better than where they had came from. I just want a world where we're only judged for our actions - not our faces, not our religion, not our thoughts and not people who happen to have the same skin color but aren't even distantly related.

Jim Osborn

Wed, Mar 13, 2013 : 12:49 p.m.

What is truly telling is that by the next day you already have a dozen negative votes. 40% of the total. All for saying 6 words about not to hate you for your ethnicity.


Wed, Mar 13, 2013 : 2:36 a.m.

DUDE! Such a moderate stance for a change! Perhaps I know you not...


Tue, Mar 12, 2013 : 8:20 p.m.

I agree! I am the daughter of immigrants who came here and were not welcomed but tried very hard to assimilate in spite of that. Nobody said anything about the way they were treated and by working hard achieved their dream.


Tue, Mar 12, 2013 : 7:05 p.m.

We are all different, thats ok!!