Contributing Writer Inika Gajra, ’21
“racism is not gone, it never left, and at the rate this country is going, it never will.”
Racism is nowhere close to gone. Just ask Oscar Grant or O’Shae Terry. Ask Terence Crutcher or Greg Gunn. Except you can’t. Because none of these men are alive today to tell you their story. They all lost their lives due to stereotypes about their race. These men were all men of color who were not committing crimes, but were shot and killed by white police officers because racism is not gone, it never left, and at the rate this country is going, it never will. Their loss of life and ability to share their experiences and hardships with the world is even more of a reason that their stories, and millions of other minority groups’ stories, need to be heard.
Being the daughter of two immigrant parents I can tell you that racism is not just against those of African descent, nor is it always in the case of police brutality or physical harm. Racism segregates our population through mindsets alone and is as prevalent today as it was twenty years ago.
When my parents immigrated here in 1996, some may argue racial tensions were even worse than they are today. In 2001, my father was a physician at the VA hospital that specifically treats veterans. One day, he was working the emergency room and a man was rushed in for a procedure. My father had two residents under him, two young doctors who had just completed their training. One of the residents was of African descent and the other was of Pakistani descent. The African resident was sent in to treat the man in the emergency room, but the man protested, insisting he wanted a different doctor, but did not give a reason why. So my father sent in his second resident, but the man turned him down as well, still not giving a reason. My father, being a fully trained doctor, then proceeded to treat the man himself, and the man refused yet again but this time began to make a scene and expose his true reason for turning down my father and his two residents. He pointed at all and any white staff around him, asking why none of them could do his procedure. My dad patiently tried to explain to him that the people he was pointing to were nurses and therefore not capable of completing the procedure. The man then went on to yell hysterically asking why only “foreigners” could treat him and yelled that he had served this country and therefore deserved to be treated by a white doctor.
I wish I could say this was a one time occurrence, but both my mother and father have several stories just like this of their work experience in the US. My mom completed her residency here before becoming a fully trained pathologist. In a discussion during her residency, she brought up an idea that differed from the majority’s opinion on a topic. Her supervisor then proceeded to cut her off, saying how she thought it was interesting my mom was bringing up a different point considering that she was “A woman, and that too from India.”
“Her supervisor then proceeded to cut her off, saying how she thought it was interesting my mom was bringing up a different point considering that she was “a woman, and that too from India.”
Comments like this are demeaning to an individual’s intellect solely because of their gender and ethnicity. That very same year, but this time at Upstate Hospital, another man would not allow my dad to perform a bone biopsy on him. When asked for what reason the man replied angrily, “I’m not letting any Arab stick a needle in my back.” Ironically enough, my father is not an Arab, which simply shows the man is not only a racist but also stereotypical, to assume that my father is Arabic because of his brown skin.
Many may say that we have come a long way since the civil rights movement and that although the nation might not be perfect, racism overall is not too pressing of an issue anymore. They may argue this by saying our own former president, Barack Obama, was half African American. However the election of the first black president of the United States did not come without backlash. According to CNN, a life-sized doll depicted as Obama was hung from a tree at the University of Kentucky just days before the 2008 election. Overall, whether it be distant from our everyday lives or occurring in the lives of your own friends, family, or other members of the J-D community, it is clear that racism is no where close to gone. Sadly, it is impossible to change everyone. But you can do your part by remembering that racism kills, so don’t be part of spreading the plague.