Six Word Essay Projects

Hello and thank you for visiting

My idea was to use these little black postcards to get the conversation started. But I quickly realized once I hit the road on my book tour that I didn’t really need that kind of incentive. All over the country people who came to hear about my story wound up sharing their own.

Despite all the talk about America’s consternation or cowardice when it comes to talking about race, I seemed to have found auditorium after auditorium full of people who were more than willing to unburden themselves on this prickly topic.

So the postcards that were supposed to serve as a conversation starter wound up instead serving as an epilogue. 

I asked people to think about their experiences, questions, hopes, dreams, laments or observations about race and identity. Then, I asked that they take those thoughts and distill them to just one sentence that had only six words. People took the cards with them and mulled over the assignment. I hoped that a few might send them back to me via email or through the U.S. Postal Service.  I tried to be realistic, set low expectations and then held my breath. Well, much to my surprise an awful lot of people took the bait.

Dozens of those little postcards started arriving in the mail every week and bit by bit, more and more of those little six-word “essays” piled up in my inbox from all over the country, and then amazingly from all over the world.  I’ve heard from people in Australia, Afghanistan, London, Chile, Belgium, South Korea and Abu Dhabi.

The submissions are thoughtful, funny, heartbreaking, brave, teeming with anger and shimmering with hope. Some will with make you smile. Others might make you squirm. And there are a few that might make you wonder why they deserve a place on the website’s Race Card Wall.

Here’s the answer. If the intention is to use these cards to get a peek at America’s honest views about Race, then I must try to honor those people who offer up candor, even if what they share is unsavory or unacceptable in some people’s eyes.

I am grateful for the tremendous response. Thanks to all who take the time to scroll through the submissions…. and special Thanks to everyone who sends in six-word essays. Brick by Brick this wall has become a fascinating archive of attitudes about race at an interesting point in History.  Despite all that is on display here…There is still, much to say.

Go ahead. Give it a try!

Michele Norris


About The Race Card Project, by Michele Norris
The Race Card Project encourages people to condense their observations and experiences about race into one sentence with just Six Words.  Since it began in 2010, the Project has received tens of thousands of Six Word stories from all over the world.  The Race Card Project has earned a deep well of trust on a thorny topic as evidenced by the candor and depth of the submissions. The Six Word essays featured on the website, theracecardproject.com, provide a window into America’s private conversations about race and cultural identity.  As such, the website has been used by schools, businesses, churches and even the military to foster a dialogue about race. The Six Word stories are also featured regularly in reports by Michele Norris on NPR’s Morning Edition.

The Race Card Project team is consistently amazed by the candor and emotional depth of the submissions collected via the award winning website, www.theracecardproject.com.

For More Information Contact:
Melissa Bear 

 


Inspired by the book Not Quite What I was Planning: Six Word Memoirs from Writers Famous and Obscure, edited by Penn alumni Larry Smith and Rachel Fershleiser, the Hub decided to write their own six-word stories.

Have your own six-word contribution? Email us! wh@writing.upenn.edu



Anticipation is not just about ketchup.

Amy Hostetter

Out of everyone, I chose you.

Samantha Yanez-Chavez

Found a new mountain to scale

Melody Wren

I came, I saw, I conquered!

Sheldon Fredrickson

live. contemplate. learn. keep moving forward.

Grace Juhlin

Never really am where I want.

Irvin P. Delatorre

Ringling Bros. demise - the bookkeeper's balance

Ken Olson

Others seldom rise to my expectations.

Debra Posthumus

A reader longing for the stars.

Rajshri Thakur

Looking ahead. Looking back. No middle.

Gabe Oppenheim

My. pace. is so different…SEE?

Radall Hogue

I love being indoctrinated by you

Violette Carb

So many spaces, so few words.

Greg Djanikian

chocolate chip cookie endowment coming soon

Sarah Arkebauer

pacifist: an enemy of the state

Ken Olson

moved every year then came home.

Allison Harris

So, um, what's up with you?

Sam Donsky

Sometimes I have a good notion.

Al Filreis

I still dance to "Octopus's Garden."

Kristen Martin

I am looking for the (g)riot.

Greg Romero

Sounded much better in my head.

Chris Milione

ask me again in a month

Jessica Lowenthal

Striving to remain childLIKE not -ish

Mingo Reynolds

Train Insane or Remain the Same

a student from Mason City Schools

riverrun, Finnegans Wake unread too long the

Ryan Godfrey

Google knows me, therefore I am.

Chris Mustazza

What I didn't expect changed me.

Kathy Lou Schultz

The French: "1987--a bad vintage."

Max McKenna

Music tastes just as good as

Ben Epstein

This then

 is it

  is it ?

f.manweiler

It took longer than I thought.

Kerry Sherin Wright

These years writing about those ones.

Jamie-Lee Josselyn

Bastard child of (moon)light laughter. Ha!

Jerry Rudasill

Slightly awkward, clumsy, asks many questions

Tahneer Oksman

Sometimes "awkward" is a good thing.

Lindsey Rosin

possible. Wishing I could go back. Im

Lee Huttner

The experience was worth the risk.

Arielle Brousse

I can do it in five.

John Carroll

Some talent, big chip on shoulder

Sam Allingham

On second blush, it reads more

Kaegan Sparks

prone to confessions (of a variety)

Trisha Low

no rhyming. loose ends are more

Rivka Fogel

poetic attempts to win your favor

Michelle Newman

I made a choice about business.

Michelle Taransky

幸福一无所有

Jerry Yue Liu| 刘悦

If it's hard, am I missing something?

Chris Rippel

Are my forgotten events, still meaningful?

Chris Rippel

Finding balance between meaning vs. happiness.

Chris Rippel

Thanks for the opportunity. Choose one.

Chris Rippel

Tried not to remember but did.

Paul Hansen

He betrayed me. Married the dog!

Patricia O'Connor

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