Yo Is This Racist? By: Austin Dayen & Mahima Vemuganti

Mahima: Um, my name is Mahima and I’ll be talking about one of my Diaries of Systemic Injustices assignments.

Austin: And my name is Austin Dayen. I’ll be talking about uh a situation with my parents. And, we shall go from here

Mahima: Alrighty. So, not too long ago, um, a friend of mine was rear ended by a buckeye village bus on campus. I think this was off of 12th, uh where- where like street parking is available and very much legal. Um, he was in the car waiting for his friend who was in her dorm when he was rear ended. And he was hit, like with a such a force the his back bumper fell off.

And, let me set the scene here. My friend in this situation is a person of color and the bus driver was not.

Um, now usually, a situation like this is fairly textbook. He was clearly the victim in the car accident. His bumper fell off. Um, but, when the police arrived on the scene, it was actually Columbus PD and not Campus PD since he was, I guess he was close enough to the edge of campus to warrant Columbus PD’s arrival. Which I found was quite interesting. I would have assumed Campus PD would have showed up on the scene, but whatever.

Um, when the police arrived, the bus driver changed his story. He claimed that my friend, had illegally parked in an area that wasn’t a designated parking spot and moved his car after. And he also claimed that no one was in the car and that he arrived to the scene after the car was hit.

Obviously this wasn’t the case. He was in the car when he was hit, and he didn’t move his car the entire time. And if, like if you were at the scene the debris and like the bumper that had broken off clear indicated that the accident happened where the car was currently parked. And my friend he, you know, was very calm, he tried to calmly explain this. But he unfortunately knew where this was headed so he, you know he tried to kept his emotions in check and was being as objective as possible.

Um, at this point, his friend who is also a person of color arrived to the scene from her dorm. And when they were trying to explain that he was in his car the entire time and his car wasn’t just randomly abandoned there, one of the officers interrupted them and said “We all can’t just hold hands and sing Kumbaya whenever we want to”. Um, and this was referring to the fact that his friend was supporting his story.

Now, was this comment necessary? Absolutely not. Um, was it racist? Yeah. 100 percent yeah. I’d like to assume so that it was an unwarranted comment. 100 percent racist.

Um, and you know what? In the end, my friend was the one who ended up ticketed for the accident.

Austin: Really?

Mahima: Yeah, it was, it was very frustrating. I wasn’t there when this happened, but I, like he told me later and it was just, it was the most frustrating thing to listen and to hear about. And actually when we asked about this he talked with his parents regarding the situation. And they agreed to not contest this in court. And when we asked him why he didn’t want to contest this, he said he knew his word would just never be held up in court as a, you know he felt as though him being a person of color he wouldn’t be believed over the police officers and the bus driver who was clearly a white man.

Um, and I think just, this situation exposed a core problem here. My friend was clearly the victim of a car accident that he was penalized for, and he didn’t trust the justice system to have his back because he’s a person of color.

And I-I think this is a huge, huge issue in terms of structural injustice. We have in place a system that’s supposed to uphold the law yet its wronging innocent victims, and you know- mostly people of color.

And for my, um, DSI assignment, I actually looked into Columbus PD because I wondered ‘man like would this be different if Campus police showed up instead’.

And, the Columbus Dispatch actually did a study into the Columbus Police Department, revealing a- a disproportionate amount of force used against people of color. Obviously there wasn’t force used in this situation, but there definitely some form of bias involved.

And you know, just to highlight some of the statistics pulled from their study- from 2013 to 2017, um white residents made up around 61% of Columbus population, but they only accounted for only 26% of incidents involving force regarding Columbus PD. But for black residents, the statistics are almost the exact opposite. Black residents made up 28% of the city’s population but accounted for 49-53% of the force used.

Isn’t that bizarre?

Austin: Yeah.

Mahima: Columbus PD is twice as likely to use force against of people of color. I mean, this is a clear discrepancy regarding the application of force between residents. And looking back at this situation with my friend and the alarming statistics, I wonder how many people never contested their charges and spoke out regarding the way they were treated.

Austin: Yeah I-I have no idea. Um, and that kind of leads into my story about how, kind, not the system itself but people in general tend to have this kind of, I don’t know, just this I guess race- this deep underlying racist hate for people. Because, uh my parents, my dad is Mexican and my mom is white. And so, they visited Alabama. Uh, this was several years ago. And, uh they went to a restaurant. My mom was starving. She needed to eat, and so they, uh the host sat them down. The waitress got them water and then left them. And so my mom was like ‘hey, what’s going on?’ and, and so the waitress would go to the table right next to them and then the one opposite of them. So like, she would just skip them. And so, she was like ‘you know what? Let’s just go. I don’t even wanna deal with this’. And so, uh, that same weekend they go to another restaurant. And, uh, this other waitress uh sits them down, gets them water, and they were at the corner of the restaurant. And so uh, I guess the waitress, her area was one side of the corner and then another guy was another side of the corner of the restaurant. And so, she sat them down. Got them water. Still, nothing. They waited like, they-they found their food, they were like ‘okay, let’s order’. And so, uh, after I guess like 10, 15 minutes still no one showed up. So finally, thankfully, another, the waiter next to the waitresses’s area helped them out, apologized for them, and you know, they got their food. And then, actually, another time during that same weekend, while they were visiting Alabama, another restaurant did the same exact thing.

Mahima: Oh my goodness.

Austin: The waitress got them sit- sat down. And this time they actually just, she didn’t even come back. Like she just left them there. She didn’t even give them water or anything. And so, uh, I believe this is still evident in, especially the south where you know, especially interracial couples like mine, uh, still have, they just see them differently. And, I don’t- I don’t even know if they can explain why but they just, they do. And, I think it’s because what their parents taught them- that you know, you’re only supposed to marry within your race. I guess. Uh, but you know it’s just, it’s sad to see that someone can display that kind of behavior even while working. You know, even on the job. Um, to display just like, that, ‘you know I’m just gonna ignore them because they’re different. They, and you know they uh, they’re interracial’, I guess.

Mahima: Yeah that’s frustrating.

Austin: So, yeah it’s very frustrating. Um. of course its better because we’re from California. And that’s just a cultural, you know mess of just all these different uh, races and ethnicities and all that. And so, we’re used to seeing all kinds of, you know uh, interracial couples and I’m- I’m perfectly fine with it because obviously my parents are that. And, you know it’s just so weird seeing the stark differences in um, from that, basically one side of the country to the other. And, you know it’s uh, it’s kind of sad actually for me, to see that people still behave that way in this day and age. Um, yeah that’s terrible.

Mahima: Yeah it’s like, they would rather hurt their business than just simply serve a- a peaceful couple that’s just hungry and wants their food.

Austin: I know. It’s- it’s bizarre. I- I just can’t understand it to be honest. Um, but yeah.

Mahima: I’m sorry that they had to go through that. I mean that that that that sounds frustrating. I mean, three times in, in a- a weekend. That, that just sounds awful. And it- it’s crazy to think that like the waitresses went, uh you know, went ahead and just sat then down and instead of just- if you’re gonna be racist, just be upfront with it from the beginning instead of, you know, playing this waiting game with them.

Austin: I know. Yeah, its weird because, like, they- they went to the whole process of, you know, serving them- or uh, sorry sitting them and, uh.

Mahima: I- I wonder how many other couples had to kind of, go through the same thing and,  I mean if your- would your have, I mean obviously like this was a few years ago. But like, would your parents have felt comfortable to kind of speak out, to like the managers of the restaurants, or?

Austin: No, my mother is more of a subtle kind of person. She just doesn’t want to start anything. Um, my dad probably would have. But they just, they just wanted to eat. And they wanted to, you know get on with their day. But, they just ran into this, you know, simple stupid behavior displayed by a waitress. A professional, you know, waitress on the job to- to do that to them. And so I- I don’t know. It’s just crazy.

Mahima: Yeah that sucks. I’m sorry.

Austin: Yeah.

Mahima: [Thanks] for sharing that story and I’m really sorry that your parents had to go through that. It’s not fair. It’s not fair for them. It’s not fair for anyone in that situation too.

Austin: I know. And thank you for sharing yours. It’s just, I don’t understand why the, people like that have to deal with situations like that when clearly the other person was at fault for their mistake- the bus driver.

Mahima: Yeah.

Austin: Yeah it’s just, it’s sad.

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