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As part of our series Alone Together, our newsroom is collecting stories of social distancing during the coronavirus outbreak.

Alone Together — Experiences With Racism In Utah

Graphic illustration of phone screens
Renee Bright
/
KUER
KUER invited listeners to share their experiences with racism in Utah.

As protests against racial injustice grip Utah, KUER invited you to share your experiences with racism in the state. Here are some of your stories about those moments. 

Brian Smith

Smith is Mexican and lives in Millcreek. He remembers being pulled over by police after leaving Wal-Mart one night. He said he was given little explanation as to why.

“I’ve had so many experiences like that. It’s just mind boggling not knowing when you’re going to get pulled over for nothing. That has happened to me more than once. I have a huge fear of being killed by police.”

Ranjan Adiga

Ranjan went to a convenience store at night to buy sparkling water but it didn’t have the brand he was looking for. He said a bulge in his hoodie led the store clerk to call the police. 

I had gone into a 7-Eleven store to buy a bottle of sparkling water. It was around 10:00 at night and I was wearing a hoodie. And as I was walking out, the store clerk came running after me. And he called me and said, ‘who's going to pay for that bottle of water?’ And I said, I don't have any bottle with me. And he just didn't believe me. I'm brown skinned and I have a beard and he called 911. And on that phone call, he said he looks like a Muslim, a Middle Eastern.”

Jose Garcia

Garcia is Latino and remembers being pelted with insults as he would walk home from school as a child. 

“I was in sixth grade on my way home from school. I would pass by this house where a man would yell from his window terms, such as beaner, wetback, taco bender, tortilla roller and other terms I can't remember. I felt scared that this man would come out and physically attacked me, but he never did.”

Marilyn Smith

Smith is white but has two adopted black kids. She has seen her kids deal with racism first hand, with one event involving the police this spring. 

“I have two adopted African-American kids. My daughter, just this spring, was walking her horse in West Bountiful, and the cops pulled over and said that she had been reported under suspicious activity. There's nothing suspicious about her behavior other than the fact that she was African-American. She demonstrated in every way possible, very easily that the horse was hers. The cops were very sorry and apologized and let her go on her way. They said they would call the complainant back and tell her no crimes were committed. I had to emphasize, ‘Will you please explain to the complainant that being black with a horse is not a crime?’”

Next, we’re asking people to share stories of Pride month without the parade. Call us at 801-609-1163 to tell us how you plan to participate in Pride month during the coronavirus pandemic. 

Ross Terrell is an editor for KUER News. Follow him on Twitter @RossTerrell7

KUER is listener-supported public radio. Support this work by making a donation today.