Let’s Talk About Race: 14 Atlantans on how far we’ve come—and how far we still have to go

“Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.”

BY - April 5, 2018

Race in Atlanta
Illustration by Filip Peraić

The experience of race in America is, at its core, a series of stories, as discrete and unique as the person telling it.

There is no unifying narrative. Together, though, these stories tell the larger American story. This month, as we commemorate the 50th anniversary of the murder in Memphis of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., we asked 10 Atlantans for something as simple as it was profound: To tell their own truth about race. What they came back with may surprise you. It may enrage you. It most definitely will enlighten you. Interspersed with their essays are works of art, chosen by three Atlanta curators and one artist whom we charged with the same mission. We hope these words and images take a step toward fulfilling the words spoken by one of Dr. King’s contemporaries, the black writer and intellectual James Baldwin: “Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.”

Edited by Steve Fennessy
Essays by
Soon Mee Kim, Tina McElroy Ansa, Charles Stephens, Maurice Hobson, Chris Marquardt, Sam Zamarripa, Kate Tuttle, Winfield Ward Murray, Anjali Enjeti, and Ilham N. Askia
Artwork by
Ervin A. Johnson, Jamaal Barber, Yehimi Cambron, Delphine Fawundu, Deborah Roberts, and Fabiola Jean-Lewis; selected by Arnika Dawkins, Jamaal Barber, Monica Campana, and Andrea Barnwell Brownlee

  1. I am American. I am Korean. I am always representing.
  2. Don't tell me what my story as a black woman is
  3. How my father taught me about racism without ever saying so
  4. Atlanta's “Black Mecca” status is more complicated than it seems
  5. Breaking the habit of "white silence"
  6. As a kid, I was harassed at a pool because my skin was too dark. That bigotry hasn't disappeared.
  7. Whitewashing the Civil War prevents Atlanta from moving forward
  8. I used to think being from Atlanta and from Georgia were different. They're not.
  9. Racism isn't always going to look like racism
  10. Even in a city with black leadership, black is still the color of the outside
  11. Seven works of art that explore race in America