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.
“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.
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.