The Fabulous Twelve From Iowa State University

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

You can shout out in a crowd - it's easy. But sit in a room with two other people talking about the racism of your school student newspaper - not always as easy as you might think.

The students came forward to express their disappointment in the Daily for publishing two "Just Sayin" comments referring to a “squintey” in last Tuesday’s paper. The uproar over the publication of the comments has ignited discussions on racism at Iowa State and has caused the Daily to stop publishing "Just Sayin" comments. The two "Just Sayin" comments in question, like all other comments, were submitted by the public and chosen by employees in the Daily’s advertising department. The employees said they thought the two mentions of “squintey” referred to ground squirrels. “Squinny” is what some people in Des Moines and nearby areas call ground squirrels, according to "Western Folklore," a book by Gary N. Underwood. However, many in the ISU community said the term “squintey” can have a much more sinister meaning — one that demonstrates and could possibly reinforce racism against Asians and Asian-Americans. “We are expressing our opinion now because this is affecting us,” said Ruth Yang, open-option junior. “This kind of racism and ignorance will build up.”

Ruth’s sister Minah Yang, senior in finance, said she did not want to believe that someone in the ISU community could write something so racially insensitive and how the Daily could publish those comments. “Even if you were talking about a ground squirrel, why would you publish it?” Minah asked. “If you could see that it could offend someone, then the Daily shouldn’t publish the comments.” Minah described how she grew up hating herself because she was not white. She said she used to laugh along when other children made jokes about Asians or Asian-Americans. However, she said she is done being passive about racism.
Good for Minah and the other students out there laying it down.