Letter to the editor: 2 types of intolerance

To the editor:

I am a doctoral candidate at the University of Kansas. Previously, I taught young adults with severe autism in New York City. My New York friends warned me about moving to Kansas as a person of color. I figured a university town would be safe. Well, I have experienced otherwise.

I enjoy distance running. In my first year here, while out on a run, white men in a pickup truck screamed racial slurs and anti-immigration chants at me so angrily and loudly that I could see the veins popping out of their necks. When I looked for help, the white people outside the church across the street pretended not to notice. I had similar experiences over the next few years. Consequently, I have largely stopped running.

Conversely, on July 10, I discovered that someone had spray-painted my license plate. My husband, a Navy veteran, and I have veteran plates on our cars. The plate on our other car, which has political bumper stickers, was untouched. The spray-painted car has a Kenyon sticker, which is a liberal arts college; the vandal likely doesn’t know Kenyon. Similarly, the vandal likely doesn’t know I am an Asian-American immigrant spearheading equity and inclusion work or that we got the plates hoping I wouldn’t be racially profiled in rural Kansas.

Altogether, these experiences reflect intolerance. People should not have to know one’s personal background to not vandalize property and to not scream hate speech. I wish Lawrence would do better.

Teresa Girolamo,



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