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All Hate is the Same

After the BSO meeting, which was held in response to the hate crime scrawled on the bathroom walls of SIPA, I walked out of Lerner C555 with an unsettling feeling that something was not right. Why? It was not because there was a lack of constructive responses to the outrageous bigotry and it was not because there was a shortage of understanding from those present during the meeting. The reason: I realized how rare it is to see such passionate, cohesive, and immediate response to hate crimes committed against Asian American individuals. This lack of response more than often stems from individual's decision to remain silent and not from the lack of support that would be shown from fellow students of color.

This nothing response is by no means the way that all Asian American individuals react when they are marginalized and oppressed by racial slurs or racial profiling. However, silence seems to be a popular choice for many Asian American individuals who experience injustice. As a result, there is no change. And if there is change, it is on a micro-scale that often does not include multi-coalition and often is not even supported by fellow Asian Americans.

The real scary consequence of silence is not that Asian Americans continue to be called "chinks" or asked "do you speak English?", but rather that in the struggle between justice and injustice, justice loses. Although this may seem like an overstatement, it is not. If anything, this statement is an understatement Why? Because an act of injustice towards one Asian American is an act of injustice on all those who are marginalized by our society. Because simply "moving on" and "not making a big deal" out of racial profiling is the reason that it keeps happening. Because saying "chill out" to racial attacks on a bathroom stall is saying "chill out" to hatred. Because people are normalizing hate crimes. Because no one wants to live in a society pervasive of moral shabbiness.

Do not get me wrong. When I walked out of Lerner C555 that night, I was empowered by the fact that students, not just those specifically mentioned in the hate crime, came together to figure out what to do. Yet in the mist of this hope for change, I could not stop asking myself: Why don't we see 120 students gathered together to talk about acts of injustice towards Asian Americans? In fact, why don't we see this type of multi-coalition for all forms of injustice? A part of the reason for this is because we refuse to see that all hate is the same and affects everyone, regardless of whether you are personally attacked or not. The other part of the reason for this lack of mobilization towards change is because often times those victimized choose to do nothing and "to relax" (as commented by some student in the Spec).

Well, here is a reality check: A hate crime that is not blatantly attacking you, it is still your problem. It is every single person's problem because we all live in the same society. It is your problem, if you are living in a society where moral trash like hate crimes are things to relax about and to shut up about. In my book, all hate is hate. I don't want to live in hate.


  1. Jeremy said...

    I mostly agree, but another way of looking at it is this: the goal of people who write comments like the one in SIPA is to cause outrage and upset. By taking a more 'relaxed' attitude to this kind of thing, by treating it with the ridicule it deserves, we are undermining the entire purpose of the comment and at the same time making racial hatred less and less effective. If these people didn't expect a reaction when they wrote comments like that, they would no longer bother. Just a thought.  

  2. David said...

    Hey Jeremy,

    I would tend to agree with you were this a case of tension between two different kinds of people, say, between fans of two different sports teams. In this case, however, the case was precisely racist, which is exactly why this incident necessitates reaction.

    The reason is because we are not yet at a stage in race relations in this country or in this globe to ignore this type of thinking. The graffiti in that bathroom stall was not scrawled for people of color to read and be frightened by - it aimed to speak to a wider audience of all colors. Thus, it aimed also to speak to the subconscious of a colorblind yet segregated society in America.

    I say subconscious because, as a friend put it, not only are chances that this was brought about by the Ahmadinejad event on Monday, the causality might have been more striking. As Bollinger proclaimed his responsibility on behalf of the "entire Western civilized world" to denounce this president, he made it easier to demonize Iran as well. Allowing himself to inject this flawed viewpoint onto campus, he enabled hate against an entire Muslim civilization.

    So I see your point about appropriate response, but I think this is a tactic useful only when the marginalized group is the spewer of hate speech, not those oppressed under it. Right now, we just cannot ignore this incident as a symptom of a greater evil in this country, an evil that permits injustice still from Jena to University of Maryland.

    Racism does indeed breed racism.  


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