UCLA Woman's Racist Video Rant Goes Viral
By Grace Hwang Lynch on March 15, 2011
BlogHer Original Post
When I started seeing tweets and Facebook updates mentioning a “Ching Chong” YouTube video, my first thought was, Oh no, not Rush Limbaugh again! Even more disappointing, this time the remarks are being made by a young woman at one of California’s top universities —- UCLA student Alexandra Wallace. I really debated about whether I should write about this or not, as I don’t want to give these racist antics any more publicity. But, the Internet ethics it brings up are just too important to ignore.
The video, uploaded over the weekend, shows a blonde woman ranting about the habits of “hordes of Asian people that UCLA accepts into our school every single year.” She goes on to make fun of their food, their families, and then launches into her now-infamous mockery of an Asian person talking on a cell phone, using the kind of made-up Chinese words I used to hear on the school playground. In the Midwest. In the 1970s. This video was made right after the news broke about the earthquake in Japan, and Wallace even makes a quip that the Asian students are calling all their relatives to check on them because of the tsunami.
The original YouTube video has been pulled, but the clip has gone viral and been reposted by many others.
Race relations on college campuses have long been a sensitive issue. In my days at Berkeley, The Daily Californian regularly reported about the "Balkanization" of the races on campus. The snide nickname for UCLA was the “University of Caucasians Lost among Asians.” Wallace knows full well the implications of what she is saying, prefacing her rant with disclaimers such as, “We know that I’m not the most politically correct person, so don’t take offense.”
She claims that she even has (had) Asian friends, to whom she says, “I don’t mean this toward any of my friends. I mean this toward Asian people that I don’t even know.”
As an Asian American, I am offended. As a human being, I am saddened. But as a blogger, I know that the same accessibility to the Internet that allows me to type up this post is the same freedom that allows people like Alexandra Wallace to post hurtful, divisive drivel. And she's getting a ton of publicity because of it.
The First Amendment guarantees that freedom is speech is one of our Constitutional rights as an American (regardless of our manners). And recently, the Supreme Court ruled that freedom of speech also extends to hate speech, as in the Westboro Baptist Church.
At UCLA, whose student body is over 40% Asian American, University Chancellor Gene block come out with a statement decrying the YouTube clip -— in his own video.
The campus newspaper, The Daily Bruin, reports that Wallace has issued an apology and that the university is looking into whether her video violates any of the student codes, including those against harassment.
Whether or not there’s any formal discipline, Internet Justice is being meted out in the form of viral videos, including parodies of Wallace’s rant and rap videos that sample her “ching chong” routine.
The fifteen minutes of fame that Alexandra Wallace looked for —- and got -— may end up being the most suitable punishment of all. After all, that notoriety will remain in the cloud for perpetuity. And perhaps that is the ultimate poetic justice.