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Recently, after I shared the repugnant rantings of UCLA student Alexandra Wallace, some felt that her racist comments toward Asian-American students on her campus “weren’t that bad.”

Although many readers felt Wallace was ignorant and her comments abhorrent, some shared that they too have made the same observations about Asians, and that Wallace’s only misstep was that she posted her thoughts on YouTube instead of keeping them to herself.

Some readers admitted to laughing at Wallace’s imitation of how Asian students speak, and others felt her comments, while in bad taste, weren’t “that big of a deal” and wasn’t racist.

While I read through the comments, one reader’s, Tomi Ogundayo, question echoed my thoughts perfectly.

Tomi wondered,

“Actually, like, just a quick question, are we really able to recognize racism if it doesn’t apply to black people? Not only that, but do we care?

Just an honest question. I’m confused by some comments.”

Many of us are quickly able to sniff out racism and prejudice when it is aimed at someone who looks like us, but do we loose the ability to recognize racist words/actions towards others because we are not familiar with their culture?

A few months ago when the video of the Ethiopian-American woman making some very vile and racist comments toward African-American women surfaced most readers were up in arms. Most people in the comments section completely condemned her statements, even while relating stories of feeling shunned by American-born/Foreign-born Black women. Despite where they were born, however, the majority of readers soundly agreed the woman and her words were down-right wrong.

Over and over again, when articles have been posted questioning whether or not commercials, TV shows, or film roles featuring Black women have been offensive, we have come out in droves to call out negative or stereotypical characterizations of Black folks, but in this case, many are giving Alexandra Wallace a pass.

But why?

I wonder if Wallace had said similar things about Black people in the library would we be so nonchalant about her comments.

Instead of saying “OHHH! CHING CHONG LING LONG TING TONG? OHHH!” to mimic the way Asian students speak, what if she used ‘Ebonics’? And instead of talking about the way in which Asian parents and families support their children, what if she aimed her jabs at Black parents?

How can we be so vehemently against even the faintest hint of racism and prejudice when it comes to Black folks, but not be willing to call it out or recognize it when it’s directed at others?

Let’s talk about it.

 

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  • Alexandra

    This is true for a lot of people. The only time they care is when racism is directed at them. I’ve seen a lot. My brother and his girlfriend used to argue about this all the time.

    I don’t know about the “us” thing, I found many of those commercials funny and not offensive.
    But I was irritated by her video as much as I was by the Ethipian womans video, Polows, etc; I think people who aren’t affected by stereotypes of any race, will be quick to dismiss her racial ignorance. In fact, dismissive people are a pet peeve of mine. Ex: “I’m not affected, so Blah blah blah”

    She claims she’s not PC, but she didn’t even use her stereotypes right. She’s really dumb for posting that video online, people forget how YouTube is an international website. Her viral video most likely destroyed her future in Political Science.
    It’s sad, because as bad as her vid was, theres much worse on YouTube, but those people know the consequences and thats why they remain faceless.

  • African Mami

    So where do we go from here? Clearly we all struggle with the issue of race and race relations. Should there be scholarship literature taught to us in schools starting at kindergarten until the collegiate level? In hopes of embracing diversity from a young age.

    Moreover, should the incorporation of diversity in the workplace serve as not only a platform of being a symbol of inclusiveness, but as a breeding ground for open and honest conversation, and exchanges amongst us?

    As individuals, communities, and organizations what roles do we play in all of this?
    How do we separate the “I” from the “WE” in order to further understand what racism is, its effects, and how it affects race relations amongst us as human beings?

    Finally, what consequences if all else fails should we be prepared to deal with and how.

    • I find all you questions interesting… this is so hard to think about. More often than not, I’ve been forced to listen to my Caucasian friends belittle themselves and feel guilty; so much so that they avoid the topic of race all together (as if they weren’t a race themselves)!

      We also can’t force people to diversify and it’s well within their right to avoid exposure to another culture besides their own. I guess it’s up to the individual? To teach, to learn, to accept?

  • Chrissy

    Im one of the people who do not think what she said was racist and I still dont think so. Was it disrespectful? Yes. Was it in poor taste? Yes. Racist? I do not believe so.

    Do I think it is only racist when it happens to black people? No. But I also do not think it is smart to cry racism at everything when it is really not.

    I know an Asian girl who watched the video and laughed. I know another who said oh my god, Im guilty of this.

    Now the hordes of Asian…I could see that as racist, but the rest of it?

    • What is your definition of racism? What would make this racist? These are my honest questions to you. I wonder when exactly bias crosses the line of bigotry because I think you may have a point to make.

      “I know an Asian girl who watched the video and laughed. I know another who said oh my god, Im guilty of this.”

      I mean, just because we might have Asian friends that laughed at this (hint: I do too). Doesn’t mean it’s not racist. Mine laughed and then got very offended. One person does not define the reaction of the masses. The number of angry response videos from actual students will testify to that. It’s like the Kia-Ora advert. I thought that was hella funny, but it doesn’t change the fact that it was blatantly racist (Jim [Mammy & Basketball Playing] Crows, anyone?). It’s impossible for a stereotype or generalization not to be true some of the time… but for the most of the time it’s not, it’s best not to go off on a tangent about it. On. The. Internet.

      What you say in private is different than what you post on the internet. This girl was seeking out attention. Sure she might have been “just bitchin”, it was her midterm/final/whatever, Ms. Wallace was probably stressed out. But instead of saying “people who annoy me”, she said ‘Asians’. All Asians annoy me. As someone said either here or on the other article, most people have the common sense to hide behind usernames or masks when they want to make controversial statements. Which is the point and the problem with this girl. She didn’t. She loses. She’s going to have to pay for that.

    • Heather

      I’m as White as they come and I was utterly repulsed by this video…how can you not see the “CHING CHONG LING LONG TING TONG” bit as racist? How about the part where she thinks all those people in the library are calling their families for the tsunami?

      I’m sorry…I die a little inside every time someone says they have “Asian friends” who don’t get offended.

      Are you saying that because those 2 or 3 friends are Asian, this is a good representation of how all Asians are going to feel about this video?

      You are sorely mistaken.

      Like the author said, what if she had geared this rant toward African-Americans?

      “and they’re always on the phone in the library going “Ohhhhhh, dayum girl, thass what I’m tawkin’ ’bout!”

      Yeah, she’d be burned alive within SECONDS.

      There’s no difference.

      NONE.

      It’s UNACCEPTABLE to find racism against one minority okay but not another.

  • isolde

    What’s there to say? I’ve become accustomed to ignorance on this site when it comes to racism or mysogyny. The arguments given by those who excused the rant or parts of the rant as not being racist weren’t even well thought out or entertaining. Commenters trying their best to (poorly) explain why that white woman’s remarks weren’t racist, despite her mocking rant about a racial minority group “coming to ‘our’ school,” and making sweeping generalizations about that non-white group, are either completely oblivious or willfully ignorant. Both categories of people (the willfully ignorant and the oblivious) are about as bright as a moonless night.

  • Sam

    I hate what this girl had to say, but trying to act as though we’re the only ones who feel its “only racism when it happens to us” is unfair. How many non-blacks do you see jumping over themselves to stick up for us when something racist is put up on youtube? How often do you really see anyone stick up for others in the face of bigotry? Most people are too stuck on stereotypes to even see how offensive comments can be. There will always be those people, non-whites included, who will say “well, that is true”, “you can’t get mad ’cause it’s true”.

    However, there are a lot of people out there that are willing to stand up against racism and they do exist.

    I have seen some beautiful moments when people do stick up for others. And with the crowd I hang out with, I see that a lot. I see that right now in the very fact that a blog targeted towards black women is even discussing the UCLA racist video.

    I believe that it is not right to complain about bigotry when you ignore it. But still, we blacks are not the only ones that do ignore it and obviously not every single black person does. And one need only look at the world to see that, clearly, blacks are not the only people out there to be ignorant towards racism.

    • Lauren

      THANK YOU TELL IT!! And to those assholes whining if she had sadi something about blacks HELLO did you dummies NOT see the watermelons on the White House lawn or the NY Post ‘monkey’ cartoon or the comic written by a WHITE WOMAN portraying Obama as a rapist who atacks the Statue of Liberty. And DUH yeah they are called Lisa Lampanelli and Sarah Silverman and Jimmy Kimmel and damn near every other comedian who gets away with it by saying they are ‘jokes’. Or red queen big head Quentin Tarantino who uses the n-word in ALL of his movies while you Negroes and nobody else utters a damn peep all while having the nerve to lament ‘if this were the blacks’. Riiiiight because we just NEVER face discrimantion in media form ever and that c**t who lied that a black woman threw acid in her face was just having an off day smh!!