On April 3, 2017, the poster pictured to the left was found on the campus of the University of Texas at Austin. It specifically accused Chinese students of cheating, misrepresenting their skills, and “unethically” burping and farting. When I saw this news, I couldn’t even grasp my feelings towards this issue. I am furious and hurt. I tried to laugh at it and pretend that it’s just an idiotic thing someone did, but I found it so hard to do this. This is my 6th year as an international student from China studying in the States and I am lost for words to explain how disappointed and upset I am looking at another incident of racism towards the Asian population and more specifically against the Chinese.
I only saw the news about this incident on a Chinese network because there was little to no information about it in major American news publications. Obviously I do not attend UT Austin and I cannot say what kind of students they have there, but this one individual’s behavior is absolutely outrageous and ridiculous. Sadly, he or she is not alone on this discrimination train. This action reminds me of when Fox News went to Chinatown during election season. They interviewed Asian immigrants who don’t speak English well, made fun of them, and then they called their flagrant racism just “good fun.” This action reminds me of Chris Rock lobbying for more diversity in Hollywood when he hosted the 2015 Oscars. Then he brought three Asian children onstage in tuxedos, holding briefcases, and thanked them for counting the ballots. This action reminds me of many celebrities including Donald Trump, Shaquille O’Neal, and many others who bluntly mock Asian accent on television or movies. This action reminds me of the instance at Columbia University where students who with non-western Asian names had their name tags ripped off their dorm doors. This action reminds me of one of my professors telling my fellow Chinese student that she should get an English name because her name is too hard to pronounce (it is not in Chinese). This action reminds me of when the University of California at Santa Barbara invited the Dalai Lama as their commencement speaker, ignoring the fact that many Chinese students consider him a political terrorist against their country. And they call it freedom of speech. This reminds me of a time when an Asian-American cop was the only police officer convicted of accidentally shooting of an African-American man, not all the other white policemen who walked away free and innocent. This list seriously goes on and on and these are only the ones that popped into my head right now after I saw the news.
No, I am not saying that all Americans are racist towards Asians or saying that they are bad people. Personally, I am blessed. I went to the New Hampton School, which is a tiny boarding school with over 300 kids in the middle of nowhere in New Hampshire. Although we all know how New Hampshire has a lack of diversity, New Hampton is not. The school includes many international students from all around the world. I was so lucky and blessed because everyone there was inclusive and loving. I have friends who are strong Trump supporters and will do a “USA chant” anytime of the day, but they stand up for me when someone comes at me or others with threats of racial discrimination. I was protected and ignorant from the racism towards Asians in U.S. society in general. Then I came to BC. I still have friends who celebrate Chinese New Year with me and stand up for my culture all the time. I even have a friend who asked me to stay if I can’t go home because of the ban. But as a grown up, I am starting to question more and see more about the little or not so little discrimination against me and my people. Apparently, not everyone is as privileged as I am to be showered with love and respect. And that fact is very, very sad.
I often get asked, “Why do you study in the States anyway if you think China is so good?” If you want the truth, here is the truth. When I was back in China, I was a below average student. I wasn’t smart enough compared to my classmates back home and I couldn’t even get into a good high school if I continued. I am a coward who couldn’t take the intensity of a Chinese education, so I found the easy way out. I quitted. I chose the American education system, a system that I graduated from as a Valedictorian. I am currently enrolled at a Top 30 University in the U.S. because I am smart enough here. I am smarter than a lot of people here. See, I can be mean as well, but I don’t want to be. So please, don’t be mean people who call others names due to their own ignorance. I have plans to stay here to finish my education and contribute to society, and so should every one of you.
Photo 1 . Photos 2 and 3 courtesy of author