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Past Conference: June 8-12, 2015

Playing ‘The Race Card’ with NPR’s Michele Norris

Playing ‘The Race Card’ with NPR’s Michele Norris


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When Michele Norris isn’t hosting NPR’s All Things Considered (and giving National Public Radio aficionados internetwide more reasons to make her an object of their affections), she’s collecting race cards.

The award-winning journalist and newly-published author started The Race Card Project when she was on the road promoting The Grace of Silence, her “eloquent and affecting memoir” about her family’s racial roots and secrets. She’d hand little black postcards to the individuals in the audience at her readings and signings across the country and ask those individuals to “think about their experiences, questions, hopes, dreams, laments, or observations about race and identity” and “take those thoughts and still them to just one sentence that had only six words.” The individuals were then instructed to write those six words on a those little black postcards and send them back to Norris.

So, Norris’ Race Card Project is a literal realization of the popular idiom with a six-word memoir twist. And a lot of people are playing.

Norris has received cares from Australia, Afghanistan, England, Chile, Belgium, South Korea, United Arab Emirates, and more. She describes the submissions as thoughtful, funny, heartbreaking, brave, teeming with anger and shimmering with hope.” Some will make you feel like you just walked out of a Pixar movie, while others will evoke emotions reminiscent of fist fight, but all are worth a read.

The six-word sentences that make for a “fascinating archive of attitudes about race” are all up online at Be sure to check them out before creating your own.


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