Letter: Why do we focus so much on race?

Julius Cavira

For various reasons I have wondered if Iowa harbors hate, discrimination, prejudices and racism.

It wasn’t too long ago that a former high school teacher explained to me that “he” was there, watching people come off the boat and heard all the complaints about “other” ethnicities coming to take our jobs and bring down the peace. He said, “if it wasn’t the Polish, it was the Spaniards, then Greeks, then Italians, then Russians,” that cause problems.

Sometimes I would ask Caucasians their ethnicities, but they hadn’t a clue. When I was asked, I told them I’m American. But seeing their confused expressions, I added, “I’m Asian.” So, the only way Iowans distinguish from one another is by “color” — racial profiling, maybe? Being a minority, I am a “visible outsider” in our community. I did some research about the demographics of our state: Iowa is 93 percent white. Why isn’t Iowa more diverse? What’s holding ethnic groups back?

This reminded me of my high school research about the catastrophic standoffs between U.S. militias and the federal government, such as the 1993 siege of the Branch Davidians compound in Waco, Texas, and at Ruby Ridge in Idaho in 1992. Those incidents became rallying cries for the radical right and a source of inspiration to domestic terrorists such as Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols. If there is so much chatter and attention of one culture it takes away our eyes off the other counterculture, which spawns just as much destruction.

Julius Cavira

Cedar Rapids

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