Tonight, I start a new blog. A few months ago, my sister told me that I should stop reading the news because of how it emotionally affects me. I feel. I absorb. I sympathize. I empathize. My passion sometimes flies past disgust and into anger. My passion sometimes sinks past sympathy and into depression.
I am a student of history. I am a student of people. What goes on today is tomorrow’s history. With my unquenchable thirst for knowledge of people and society, I can’t bring myself to stop reading and watching the news.
I don’t expect anyone to ever read what I write, but I need a release valve (to at very least delay the day that my sister has me committed). I generally repress it and discuss it only to the people closest to me. I’ve gone through entire relationships with rarely ever discussing that things that arise my passion. My sister thinks it’s unhealthy, so this is my attempt to temper her concerns.
Today’s post is about Alexandra Wallace. If you haven’t read, she was a political science junior at UCLA who posted on a YouTube what she thought would be a humorous rant on Asian-American behavior in the UCLA library and at her dorms. She thought this to be such a brilliant rant that, according to her father, she was looking for a domain name to make a website about Asians in Libraries.
I take no issue with her complaining about rude behavior in the library. I complained about it all the time when I was in school. I also take no issue with her complaints about Asians families visiting the dorms. She has every right to express her opinions on that.
Where it gets dicey is when she mimics the Asian student’s phone call with stereotypical gibberish. It gets even worse when she suggests that the Asian students should leave the library to avoid upsetting other students if they’re going to make phone calls to Japan to check on earthquake/tsunami victims.
The chancellor of the UCLA issued an apology and tried to put distance between Ms. Wallace’s opinions and the university. After thousands of comments on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and on the local newspaper websites, it’s clear that the floodgates are open on the issue. Now after alleged death threats, she has decided to withdraw from the university.
I understand her rant. I honestly do. I sympathize with the frustration she felt with a noisy library and an irritating living situation. I went through the same thing while I was in school.
At the root of this problem is a 20 year old blond girl from a well to do family and a sheltered exclusive community. Despite her academic accomplishments that got her into UCLA, she clearly is immature. She makes no attempt to separate the Japanese students who were calling about the tsunami from her stereotypical Chinese style mimicry. Every venue she comments in, it’s about the “Asian” community. She has no understanding of the family value system of the Asian families who come in each weekend to do their kid’s laundry and cook a week’s worth of food for them.
For many college is independence from parents, but for some families, college is the opportunity for their family to get ahead. Some families will do whatever it takes to make sure that their young ones succeed. Even if it means doing trivial tasks like making sure they have home cooked meals and clean clothes. I am fortunate enough to be part of a family that puts a lot of value in my generation’s success.
It is telling that her father brags about his daughter’s video on Facebook and that he also brags about his daughter being part of a Jersey Shore live audience. Her lack of perspective has clearly been a result of her upbringing.
Despite being a 20 year old who has grown up entirely during the internet age, she foolishly put out a racially tilted rant on YouTube. The internet is a digital canvas. Once an artist creates a work, it’s no longer his own, but it belongs to the world. She took down the video, but it has been re-posted repeatedly all over the internet. She can’t run away from it. For the rest of her life, every possible boyfriend, every possible boss, every possible colleague, every possible friend/acquaintance, etc. will Google her name and find the 20 year old blond racist from UCLA.
I feel for her. Her college mistake has been memorialized, but I hope for her sake that her mistake does not become permanent. She doesn’t deserve the death threats. She doesn’t deserve her family information being published on the internet. She doesn’t deserve the thousands of harassing calls.
I hope this is a lesson for all people. When you expose your own ignorance and deliver your own criticism, you will receive ignorance and criticism back. What differentiates maturity and immaturity is finding the valuable bits of constructive criticism and building upon that.
As a minority, it is soul crushing on some level that in this day and age that a 20 year old would hold these views. This isn’t a child of the 1940’s, but a child born in 1990 or 1991. She grew up in the 2000’s. I feel like a second class citizen in my professional pursuits, and I feel like my race has been a tremendous handicap in my personal relationships. Now to have my hope in the future generations dented is painful on a personal level.
She was a UCLA junior in political science. She’s educated. She should know better. If our country’s educated are this ignorant, what path are we really going down?