By Sepeedeh Hashemian
Edited by Lila Ojha Dhakal
After living in Washington State for 13 years I can honestly say when it comes to race relations, they vary from state to state. Being from Sammamish, Washington (a suburb of Seattle) I remembered going to school where the population was predominantly Asian and White. In a lot of ways growing up in Sammamish we were living in a protected bubble. It wasn’t until I moved to Phoenix for college that I saw a different dynamic in race relations.
For instance, when 9/11 happened I lived in Woodinville, Washington in a predominantly White neighborhood. I recall my neighbor, Ms. Appleby, telling my mom to let her know if anyone at school picked on me for being Middle-Eastern so she could go to school and talk to the administration. Fortunately in school I didn’t experience any moments of hostility from my peers. I know that when my cousin went to school in Minnesota he experienced something very different than I did.
Both my parents are originally from Iran, and in 2003 my mom received her US citizenship. The day my mom was sworn in as a citizen, our next door neighbor who was a police officer bought my mom a congratulatory flag-shaped cake. This isn’t to say that tension between races doesn’t exist in Washington but that in my experience I have seen more harmony than conflict.
In the case of Michael Brown or Trayvon Martin which take place in the southern region of America, race relations are very different. Considering southern states tend to be conservative and were formerly supportive of slavery back during the time of the civil war there still seems to be that animosity between different races. I would say to a certain degree animosity between different races is ingrained in Southern culture. This is not to say that people in the South are inherently racist because that’s an inaccurate generalization but more that it is part of the South’s past and unfortunately those roots are hard to break free from.