What started as an experiment with 200 postcards turned into a life-changing project for Michele Norris, host and special correspondent for NPR. She started the Race Card Project as a way to begin a new conversation about race and cultural identity, and now thousands of submissions from postcards, the Web, and Twitter all make up a large database of thoughts, ideas, and voices.

The Race Card Project “condenses a big topic into just six words,” Norris explained. People choose six words that they associate with race, and write them on a postcard or submit them online at theracecardproject.com. At first, Norris noticed that the responses (30% of all the postcards she sent out) were “inspirational,” vague and innocuous. But then, she said, “something happened, and the conversations became deep.” People began submitting words and phrases that were much more honest and intimate. It provided access to conversations “that I would have never been privy to” on public radio, Norris said. She explained that when you visit the website, “you will most certainly see something that will make you uncomfortable…but you will be enriched by the experience because you will understand life as lived by someone else.”

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