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Friday, December 9, 2022

Opinion

Tell me about a time when…you experienced discrimination and how you dealt with it


Editor’s Note: Tell me about a time when…” was created by senior staff columnist and print journalism junior Kelly Schafler with the hope of forming a more active and connected student body. On a campus this big and diverse, it’s easy to sometimes feel insignificant. One of the coolest things about diversity is the ability for it to point out all of the similarities among the student body. Everyone has stories, and we want to hear them.

Once a month, a new prompt will be issued to the student body so we may begin sharing our stories. One or two students and one Daily Cougar staff member will be featured together in this monthly column. Send in an email so that other students can relate to and benefit from your story.

We want to thank all of you who have submitted your stories and who may submit stories.

April’s prompt: Tell me about a time when … you dealt with adapting to college life.

Facing profiling due to race

After a night out around town, two friends and I decided to stop by a local McDonald’s near campus — like we normally do — but on this particular Saturday night, we were met with a great deal of discrimination by the Houston Police Department.

While driving my 1994 Lincoln Town Car with 22 inch chrome rims, I was pulled over by two HPD officers at the corner of Old Spanish Trail and Cullen Boulevard. The first officer approached my front driver’s side door, while the other officer approached my front passenger door.

While I was in mid-conversation with one officer trying to find out the reason behind this traffic stop, the other officer instructed one of my friends to exit the vehicle. My friend did exactly that without hesitation.

I was then instructed to give the officer that I was speaking with my driver’s license. He then returned to his vehicle for about five minutes.

During this time, my friend was still being questioned outside of my vehicle. As the second officer allowed him to return to the vehicle, the first officer returned to the car and handed me back my license.

I once again demanded to know the reason I had been stopped.

The first officer responded, “Where is it? If you just tell me, I will let you go.”

By this time, I had come to the realization that I had been pulled over simply because of the vehicle I was driving and the neighborhood I was driving that vehicle in.

Instead of the officers seeing my vehicle for what it is — which is a vehicle to get me from point A to B while I’m in school — they assumed that I had some sort of drugs in the vehicle.

I handled this discrimination by staying calm and doing exactly what the officers had asked of me. However, instead of driving off and never thinking about it again, I noticed the names on the badges of the officers and reported this profiling/discrimination to the HPD.

I knew that responding in a negative way during this time of discrimination would only result badly for my friends and me, but I also knew that reporting them and putting my complaint in writing would follow these officers for the rest of their lives.

Therefore, in the occasion that someone else reports them, the police department would be forced to take action.

Opinion columnist Derail Texada is a broadcast journalism junior and may be reached at [email protected]

Differences in languages causing barriers 

Growing up in my middle school in Utah, there was this teacher I had that, in ways, I could tell that he treated me differently from other students because I was still learning to speak English.

Spanish is my first language, and the weird thing was that the teacher spoke Spanish, but he wouldn’t take the time to explain things to me even though he knew he could communicate with me. I was little, and it made me frustrated because my grades were bad because of it.

The only way I could deal with it was by talking to my parents and trying to get my teacher changed.

(As for the teacher), they brought him into the office, but his excuse was that he felt like if he spoke to me in Spanish that I would never learn. The thing was that I was already taking ESL classes, but I wasn’t at the level I was supposed to be … he just refused to help me.

There are also other (discriminatory) things on a daily basis that aren’t that big of a deal, like when people … act in a different way toward you because of (your skin tone) or give you dirty looks when you’re speaking Spanish.

You have to teach your children to get along with other kids … if they can hear you treating other people badly, they’re usually going to copy what you do.

(Discrimination) will go away, but pretty slowly … every day it’s encountered. I try not to pay attention too much to it, but I do get frustrated.

I just try to move along and not let it bother me.

Petroleum engineering junior Carlos Gonzalez

Discrimination in the workforce

I felt discrimination mainly when I was looking for jobs. I was so young that (jobs) didn’t want to hire me because they thought I was inexperienced.

A lot of the time it’s not even about race; it’s about age — especially if you’re a woman, too. It’s the same thing with age; if you’re younger, they either feel like you’re inexperienced or they feel like you don’t have the skills necessary to have a job.

I was applying for a bunch of different jobs in restaurants around Houston and a lot of time they were like, “She’s too young.”

Another time, when I was about 17 years old, I applied to be a waitress, and they felt I was too young to go around and wait tables or be a hostess.

I went around to other jobs and I talked to them and said, “I know how you feel. This is my first job, so I don’t have the same experience.” I didn’t get completely mad at them, because I understood it was lack of work experience, but I did explain to them that if they trained me, I would learn. Another way to look at it is if it’s not working with a certain type of job, you can switch to another field.

If you feel discriminated against, keep your options open, because there are people out there who try to keep it equal opportunity, and there are organizations that are willing to help people who are discriminated against.

Pre-pharmaceutical freshman Gabriella Davila

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