Racism rears its ugly head


Carly Kinning

Senior Aryaa Regmi experienced racism directed towards her at Panera from a grown man who is also a father of two.

Lizzy Orr, Staff Writer

With my Nepali friend senior Aryaa Regmi,  I was standing in line for Panera at Jordan Creek Mall in West Des Moines on a Friday night. It was crowded in Panera, and as we approached the line to order our food, a family of four arrived at the same time as us. Trying to be courteous, Aryaa let the family go in front of us to order. The family took Aryaa’s offer and stepped ahead to order. When the family finished ordering, they turned around to pick up their food at the next counter. What happened next was something neither one of us would forget.

As the family walked past, the father came up to Aryaa’s face and in a low tone growled, “Go back to your own country.”

It was so out of the blue, I thought I did not hear him right. Excuse me, but my GPS told me we were 4.3 miles away from home, in the United States. Realization dawned on me when I looked over to Aryaa and saw her face white as a sheet. It was the last thing she expected to hear, especially right before ordering mac and cheese and lemonade. By the time either one of us could even close our gaping mouths, the Caucasian male was already across the restaurant with his two kids and wife.

“I think I’m going to cry,” she said moments after. I didn’t blame her. The harsh remark was directed by a man neither of us have ever seen before, nor would have ever expected to hear those harsh words from. Anger immediately followed, partly at myself because I was too shocked to confront the man, mostly because of the obvious lack of morality he had. Later on, Aryaa claimed that what the man said to her was the most racist thing someone has said to her.

The whole ordeal was not only uncalled for, but it was very strange. Aryaa and I have only encountered racist comments like this from movies and stories. Was this corrupted individual from out of town? I could be considered a sheltered child or just someone that does not have a clue of the amount of racism some individuals are exposed to, but the whole thing just seemed severely odd to me. It made me question why, of all places, would this happen in the Panera at Jordan Creek Mall, in Iowa in 2014.

Searching for answers, I went online to research the diversity in Iowa. On a national level, Iowa is ranked 46/50 states in diversity, with only 12.2% of its citizens that are non-Caucasian, according to rightcode.net. Although this is quite small in comparison to the rest of the United States as a whole. According to the Iowa Department of Education, the percentage of non-Caucasian students is 19.7% in the 2014-2015 school year for the Johnston district. This percentage is quite significant compared to other districts similar to Johnston, considering only 11% of students at Ankeny High School are not Caucasian.

Walking through events in Des Monies such as farmers markets, football games, and many more, chances are every one person out of 10 is non-Caucasian. Even with this amount of exposure to diversity, however, racism still remains. Hopefully most of us have been educated on the matter; everyone should know there are no biological differences between races, and no race is superior nor inferior to another. So why, even being one of the lowest diverse states, is racism like this still being seen today?

According to humanrights.gov, racist attitudes can root from many sources. For one, people can take on the views of the individuals they surround themselves with. If family or friends express racist attitudes, it is common that someone can pick up on that. Second, people tend to hang around people that are similar to themselves. This can include interests, backgrounds, culture, language, and for some individuals it could lead to the false notion that one group is better than another. Third, people are quick to judge and put labels on people. This is especially true with stereotyping different racial backgrounds. And lastly, humans naturally want to blame others for their problems. Some people find it easier to blame others who look or talk differently than themselves for problems out of anyone’s control.

To stand against racism is one of the best and hardest things someone can do. Whether it is to report to the community/enforcement, comfort the victim, or spreading awareness. Whether you are a victim of racism or not, we should all be consciously aware of the negative effects and wrongness of it as a whole. We should continue to make America a melting pot and a comfortable home for people from different cultures and ethnic groups by standing against racism.