The day I arrived to teach at Xinjiang University, I noticed that none of the minorities wore traditional hats or veils. A student explained to me that it is not allowed. Nor are mustaches. He said if students are caught praying they face punishment, even expulsion. A fellow teacher confirmed this later.
One day a supervisor who was Han Chinese told me that Uyghurs have it very good because of preferential policies. They can have two children and it is easier to get into college. Later that week a Uyghur friend told me of a protest by Uyghur college graduates. He said none of them could find jobs and that the rate of unemployment is much higher than for Han Chinese.
One day I was teaching a group of seniors in college who were looking for jobs. One young man was frustrated because he said he encountered signs at a job fair that said: “Minorities need not apply.”
One day a Uyghur friend invited me to a traditional muslim banquet. I was the only non-Uyghur among several hundred. Drinking alcohol is not permitted in Islam but there was plenty of baijiu. Near the end of the night, one guest leaned over and said to me unconvincingly, “We are not supposed to do this but the Han make us [get drunk].”