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CUCSSA's Finding Li Wei

So a number of AAA members have been circulating a Facebook note written by a CC senior who attended CUCSSA's screening of Finding Li Wei and found some of the film's comments blatantly racist. Here is that note:

To the Members of the Columbia University Chinese Scholars and Students Association (CUCSSA), and to those it may concern:

I am writing this note in response to the performance of "寻找李伟 (Finding Li Wei),” a Chinese drama (spoken in Mandarin) performed on the night of Saturday, April 26th, 2008 at Teacher's College, Columbia University. This was one of the most hurtful and disappointing experiences for me during my time here at Columbia University in the City of New York. I was so devastated to hear the racism and the racist slurs against Black people in the show itself. Specifically, there was a racist comment made by one of the characters in the show and it was targeted towards Blacks in Harlem. I went home crying after hearing one of the characters saying, "I feel like Americans are quite nice, but actually no! We need to get rid of those Black people in Harlem. I'm terrified by Black people!" which was followed by an uproar of laughter in the audience. Not only did the character's words hurt me, but so too did the outburst of laughter by nearly 99% of the people in the audience, who are Chinese students at Columbia University.

I am deeply upset and saddened that Columbia Chinese Scholars and Students Association would be associated with and originally produce and write something so racist, especially at a time when the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, an event that people from all across the globe and people of all races will be traveling to China to see. As a black Columbia student and East Asian Studies major, I have dedicated so much of my energy to learning about Chinese language and culture, and even spent quite some time in China for study abroad. I am so saddened that this act of racism occurred on my campus and in such a public, blatant manner, in a play that was written and produced by the Columbia University Chinese Scholars and Students Association (CUCSSA). In recent weeks, I too have been coping with the loss of fellow student, Minghui Yu of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, who was also an active member of the CUCSSA. Although I realize that the physical harassment and death he endured on April 4th, 2008 was at the hands of a West Harlem youth, the ethnic background of his assailant is not a justification for a generic attack on the entire African Diasporic community in Harlem.

Prior to the beginning of the show, I was so excited to attend and invited five of my friends to attend this event. I was so excited to be there. Not only that, but I also cancelled an event last night that I am group organizer and creator of, called the Columbia University Chinese Karaoke Group, since the event conflicted with yesterday's performance of "Finding Li Wei." To make a long story short, I sacrificed my own event to attend this one. In hindsight, I would have rather gone to karaoke.

This incident of racism insulted me and the entire African-American community at my own university and in front of my own eyes! This prejudice will not be tolerated. The fact that these racist comments were spoken in Chinese does NOT desensitize the issue. To my fellow audience members: I left crying while all of you kept laughing and snickering. I am so saddened that "Chinese scholars" would write a screenplay that would instigate racism in our Columbia community. I am also especially disappointed, hurt and overwhelmed by the fact that a "friend" of mine, Guo Rui SEAS '08 was the playwright.

Columbia University is one of the most prestigious universities in the world, and it really needs to enforce its supposed intolerance of racist acts on campus. Within the past year alone, there have been many hate crimes on Columbia's campus, with only a few gaining attention by the administration. I am so saddened that yet another one occurred. Members of the CUCSSA, please remember that there are fellow students of the African Diaspora and from Harlem who attend the SAME university as you. Show respect, and STOP THE RACISM!!!!!!!
Sadly, no AAA members were in attendance; but anybody who was there is welcome to comment.

Update: In hindsight, it's a shame that the Minghui Yu / Bwog discussion didn't take off, because this issue definitely could have been worked into it.


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