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Even at home: Citizen of 25 years told to ‘go back’ to India

Madi Klein, staff writer

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In the light of some of the racial tensions that have been mounting since Trump’s immigration policies were launched, one man’s trip to a local ice cream shop is proof that racial discrimination is still a huge problem in society, even in Lake Zurich.

“Go back to your own country, you don’t belong here” is hardly something that citizen of over 25 years, Shaibal Talukder, Lake Zurich High School parent, was expecting to hear at Cold Stone in Kildeer, especially over Memorial Day weekend.

In the face of a holiday dedicated to commemorating the lives of those who sacrificed their lives to protect our citizens freedoms in the US, Talukder’s confrontation at a popular ice cream shop can be considered a wakeup call.

On May 27, Talukder and his wife walked into Cold Stone with the simple goal of buying an ice cream cake to bring to a party, but say that they left the store feeling humiliated and disrespected in a way they would never have expected.

The pair were wearing traditional Indian clothes, on their way to a party with friends who share the same culture. They walked up to the counter, and say they unknowingly cut in front of a younger girl in line.

Instead of simply being asked to wait their turn, they were quickly confronted by a woman in front of the entire store, who told them to “go back to their own country,” according to Talukder.

“I was so surprised. There weren’t any issues and we were just paying for our cake,” Talukder said. “All of a sudden, I see a guy coming at me, basically charging at me and I thought to myself ‘I’m going to get hit.’”

Unlike in  a recent news stories of onlookers coming to the rescue in situations such as Talukder’s, in this case, there were no such heroes who came to their aid.

“Other than that employee, no one said anything,” Talukder said. “If you are condoning behavior [like that] you are on their side.”

In a wholesome family setting such as an ice cream shop, likely filled with children and their parents, one would never expect to see such rash, open displays of racial discrimination so close to home.

“You don’t expect someone to insult you or treat you with that kind of disrespect just because you’re different or because you were different or because you are an immigrant,” Talukder said. “They took one look at me and they decided within a minute that I am just visiting from another country.”

Talukder, a citizen of over 25 years, is entitled to the same respect that all of the other customers at Cold Stone are entitled to, yet due to his skin color and traditional Indian dress, he was discriminated against, dehumanized, and reduced to the stigma of being an immigrant in today’s society.

“Implicit, unconscious bias is still everywhere, with large concrete consequences for people’s lives: voting rights, access to education, employment, treatment by law enforcement and the criminal justice system,” said anthropologist, Dr. Michael Baran, in an interview for Harvard on the origins of race in America.

Not only does racial discrimination throw more hurdles in the way of people like Talukder, it also discourages them from seeking the social justice they deserve.  Talukder said that if the racial bias in law enforcement was not as prevalent, he would have called police to mediate the situation. Instead of seeking the protections that all law abiding citizens have the right to, he said he was concerned with the police taking the side of the instigators instead of his own.

“To have to go out into a world where some people see only skin color is terrifying,” Talukder said. “The best thing you can do in those types of situations is walk away. Keeping this from happening again has to be a group effort, no good will come from staying and fighting.”

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1 Comment

One Response to “Even at home: Citizen of 25 years told to ‘go back’ to India”

  1. Jim tarbet on June 10th, 2017 3:13 am

    This is not new and is not an issue created by Mr. Trump.
    That factor is a media and propaganda generation.
    Well you may not hear of outrages such as this very often, it is very common to hear it as Whispers.

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Even at home: Citizen of 25 years told to ‘go back’ to India