AMY OPLINGER: Racial discrimination still a problem
May 12, 2013 3:00 AM

Racism: the elephant in the room no one wants to mention.

When I brought up the uncomfortable topic to my friend, she said, “Why talk about it? It doesn’t apply to us.”

Us, meaning white people. We have white privilege, the ability to look in the mirror and see “raceless” beings.

Because it’s a privilege, it’s not enjoyed by all, thus making it necessary to discuss. She said I was overreacting and it’s at least not a problem here.

But is such a problem occurring at least not in a concentrated area good enough? And is it not a problem here?

A group from IUP’s Racial and Ethnic Minorities class decided to investigate. We replicated a sociological experiment by calling hiring businesses and available apartment complexes in Indiana and Punxsutawney. The catch: We called at various times to inquire about openings, each time using the accent and syntax of a different race. We conducted the experiment using the stereotypical voices for white, black, Latino and Asian people.

If you think racism isn’t a problem here, think again. Our experiment yielded what appear to be racist results. Not a single business or complex gave the same answer to all four races.

After every call, we recorded results and the way we were treated by the other. Several people hung up in the middle of conversations with those speaking in minority accents.

Conversely, although the white male was rejected for a job, he never noted a time when he was mistreated or hung up on. He was also consistently asked more questions about his qualifications, showing that the employer or real estate person had a greater interest in meeting him.

The Latino and Asian females stated that, upon hearing their accents, the person who answered drastically slowed down his speech.

The experiment’s results seem to demonstrate that racism is a problem in society at large and within the Indiana community. Because races can be identified based solely on voices, discriminatory practices continue to occur unjustly.

Despite what my friend said, racism needs to be discussed. It’s the only way we can hope to end it.

Amy Oplinger

Indiana

IUP sophomore in Spanish education

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