Racism: Two Stories & Two Perspectives

Jamie Hetlage & Sarah Hima, Reporter


There are many different races and ethnicities within the ‘melting pot’ we have today. However, criticism of each other’s race is still massively growing daily even though we live hand-in-hand. Santiago Carlos Ayulo, assistant managing editor at the St.Louis Post-Dispatch, has first-       hand experience in dealing with racism since he was little just because he is Hispanic and Chinese.

“When I was younger it was more acceptable because you’re a little more naive,” Ayulo said. “I didn’t think it was personal. Now whether it was personal or not now I know that it’s on the other persons card.”

Ayulo grew up in Peru, which is also another mesh of races of the world besides America, until he was eight-years-old. Him and his family then moved into the United States into New York in a white suburban neighborhood, being privileged enough to go to a private school. From the city of New York he had been seeing and meeting people of all different ethnicities.

“I’m lucky I grew up in New York, ” Ayulo said. “You go down to the city there is everything and everyone. All kinds of food, it’s not strange to hear somebody speak spanish or yiddish or anything because you’re in the melting pot. The bigger cities will expose you to that.”

He has dealt with many stereotypes with being Hispanic. Some people even tell him “You speak English very well” even though he has lived here for most of his life. He also knows that some stereotypes can ring true depending on socioeconomic situations. Ayulos father back in Peru was an architect, but when he moved to the U.S. he had become a dishwasher, janitor and mowed lawns at their church. But the fact is Ayulo knows it goes beyond that and that stereotypes really don’t matter.

“Once we start using race as an excuse or a crutch we somehow inadvertently fulfill some of those stereotypes,” Ayulo said.

Their are so many ways to solve this problem. Ayulo knows how hard it is to teach something people have known all their life and people’s basic opinions. This is a growing issue from examples such as Ferguson to Obama using the ‘N’ word in one of his recent speeches.

“It comes down to individuals having an open mind to accept and to get to know other people and their cultures,” Ayulo said. “ You grow up with one culture, but there’s not just one out there. It’s like learning how to ride a bike ‘Well, I want to take my tricycle but I don’t want to ride my bike’ It’s a comfort level people won’t get out of. You hope every generation grows and learns to grow out of color and race.”

-Jamie Hetlage


FullSizeRenderIt was picture day for Marquette high school, freshmen Sarah Wang was in line with other students to have her photo taken. While in line there were three girls in front of her also waiting for their pictures to be taken. When it was white girls turn to take their pictures the photographer had allowed them time to look in a mirror, fix their hair and get themselves ready to take the photo, and the girls were able to look at the picture and retake it if they wanted to. After the girls had finished getting their pictures taken it was Wangs turn.  She had thought that she would have had the same treatment as the other girls. Instead of being that the man who was taking the pictures rushed her to her seat, and was ignoring her. As Wang was walking away, the man did not ask her to look over the picture as he did with the other girls. The difference between the girls and Wang is that the girls are white and Wang is Chinese-American.

“I was really taken aback about the whole event because I’ve never really had racism presented to me, happen to me as lengthy as that,” Wang said. “So I was in a state of denial against it like ‘oh maybe he forgot to do that it’s not because of my race, he isn’t racist’ and things like that but over time it just became more apparent and you start to accept that ‘hey people start to treat me differently’ because of my race’.”

That was not the only time that Wang was prone to racism.  Because Wang is of Chinese Descent, students at her school associate her with the stereotype that all Asians are very smart and excel in academics. According to Wang students in her class would ask her for help with homework or classwork, presuming that she knows all of the answers because of her race. Wang would them assist her classmates even though she had just learned the material as they had.

“As a person I’m not confrontational,” Wang said. “So when they put me under a stereotype I wouldn’t try to fight back and say ‘hey you shouldn’t say that to me’ I’m more like ‘okay I’ll help you’ but in my head I’m thinking this person isn’t worth my time I shouldn’t be helping them at all.”

Racism is a major problem in the United States today. Racism comes in all forms from assuming that all Asians are going to be accepted to all of the prestigious colleges, that Hispanics work at lawn cleaning companies, that Arabs are oppressed or terrorists, to the unrest that has been going on in Ferguson and New York.

“The first thing that we could do about the community is just appreciating everyone as a person, learning how to respect people in the first place,” Wang said. “But at the same time we have to know that racism, it can’t really be stopped because what the media tells us, we always get assumptions when we look at a person and you can’t really control those initial thoughts going through our heads. But what we have to know is to suppress those thoughts and tell ourselves ‘oh that’s not good.’”

-Sarah Hima