In the past few years, people speaking out against the mistreatment of minorities in everyday life has become more and more common. From Black Lives Matter to the immigrant movement, groups who believe they are not treated fairly in this country are going against the norm. In a Caucasian dominant state like Iowa, it is rare to see forms of racial mistreatment, however, even in this very school, one's race can and does affect the way a person is treated.
Ever since he moved to the Bettendorf Community School District in sixth grade, sophomore Zach Elias has been different from other students. With a nationality of Turkish, his physical features resemble that of a person of Middle Eastern descent. Elias is Christian, however, because of the way he looks, he was picked on by his peers throughout his middle school experience as if he was Muslim.
To this day, other students have “joked” with Zach about being a terrorist or possessing a bomb, stereotyping him into someone he is not. His first experience being differentiated by others was in his first year at Bettendorf, when he was made fun of by one of his friends.
“I mean living in this area, I’ve always known that I would be different. The normal around here is traditional Caucasian families, so obviously I would be looked at slightly differently, even if it is just because of my race. When my friend joked with me about my race, it was weird for the first time to be in that kind of situation. I honestly did not know what to do, whether to laugh or be upset,” Elias said..
As the one being excluded from the norm, it is hard for young minorities to stand up for themselves, because they feel as if they need to be accepted. In turn, these young individuals will go with the joke and laugh instead of saying how they actually feel about the biased comment.
Sophomore Shoaib Farooqui entered BCSD in fifth grade, and his first experience with stereotyping was in middle school as well. Being of Indian descent, he was joked with about common Indian stereotypes like being smart or having a certain accent.
“I mean the jokes didn’t offend me or anything, and I knew they were just messing around, but I went with the jokes instead of stopping them so even now they are common. If I would have acted differently back then maybe the stereotypes would not have stuck like they do today,” Farooqui said.
The commonalities that minorities experience with race are obvious and convey that while racism and bullying may not be prevalent, stereotyping is common even here at Bettendorf. Junior Carlos Wilson started attending Bettendorf during freshman year, and he was treated roughly the same as anyone else.
“Nobody like, went out of their way to make a comment about my race (which is half Brazilian, half African-American) but when there was an opportunity to make a joke people made them,” Wilson said.
The questions with all of these experience is how does the community and individuals stop this type of stereotyping? Diving into discriminatory actions and other racial issues is not necessarily the correct way to solve this sort of problem, however. Not every single minority is made fun of for their ethnicity. Junior Joe Frommelt entered Bettendorf this year and has had very few issues with his race. Joe, from asian descent, makes an easy target for stereotypes but he has received few jokes about it.
People who have been stereotyped seem to believe BCSD is a Caucasian dominant culture that does not give much time for other cultures. But on the other hand individuals who have never experienced issues with their race see BCSD as a diverse and multicultural school district.
Overall, minorities in the school all have different opinions on race and it’s role at the high school. Some believe their ethnicity or race does not affect the way they are treated, while others believe they are treated differently each day.