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The danger of having a less-than-prolific blog now is that it gets harder to publicize and organize around issues that are urgent and relevant to our communities. It's important now that we get back on track.

So far the news has hit all the outlets. Asian students, once again, seem to be targeted for victims of assault. While not all of the news pieces make note, here are the facts: five of seven students assaulted Sunday morning were Asian, as was the only female assaulted. The Columbia Spectator, IvyGate, Gothamist, The Daily News, Fox News NY, and even our esteemed Asian American anti-racist blogger Angry Asian Man have all moved to publicize these incidents. Commendable, sure, and for some perhaps a little more for alluding to preexisting racial discourses.

And then we turn to the surveillance tape. We see footage of people of color in stereotypic street wear. "Stereotypic" because it's unclear how much good viewing images of what the Daily News described as a "gang of punks" will do for protecting the student body. These are images that parents back home fear and leave us voicemails about. These are the images that make people feel that rapid, systematic gentrification and displacement is a good thing. They make it hard for otherwise sensible, conscious people to walk north of 120th St.

Minghui Yu didn't die just a few months ago because of one inhumane 13-year old who drove him into oncoming traffic. He was killed by reinforced notions of people of Asian descent as weak, effeminate, and easy game. As complicit are the ideas that inner city black males are urban predators.

These are not things I make up. Look at the comments on any of the sites I linked above. "Asians really need to get their heads out of their books and start acting like a real community instead of just a demographic," one commenter writes. Another writes, "Can't we just shoot these thugs...sick of living in this human cesspool." Some seem harmless, but we should reexamine why "Skinny Asian students always are victims!" is acceptable discourse. What is freedom of speech worth when speech spreads veiled hate?

These comments aren't abstractions in the vacuum of internet space. They're ideas reinforced by almost everything we say and do. It's about time we revisit this system; this is why this blog exists.

What can we do? We can hold more events with community organizations that deal with anti-Asian violence, with collaboration with our closest allies (BSO, BOSS). the way we did last semester to expand our understanding of these events. Who will attend? What will it do?

What can be done? Please give thoughts in the comments.


  1. Anonymous said...

    I live on 123 St and Broadway, and I missed Minghui Yu's tragic death by a mere hour. Please don't take the stereotype of weak Asian students out of context. It could've happened to anyone. I know numerous people, ethnicity, and color that was mugged on the same street or gang jumped around the area. A Caucasian friend was knocked onto the ground around 122nd street and Amsterdam just this year. And it's same thing with the recent violence. The students were at the wrong place at the wrong time. Why don't you talk about the other two non-Asians? It's coincidence that the punks attacked 5 Asians. What really needs to be addressed is the absolute lack of security around campus. This is outrageous to have 7 muggings and beatings within a short time frame. What happened to Columbia security? Where is our 30 grand tuition being used? President Bollinger can easily double the amount of security around the campus without even denting the endownment.  

  2. Marilla said...

    David, I think that there is some danger in trying to paint this incident as a hate crime or a race-targeted crime. First of all, evidence is sparse. This incident is not even close to the assault against a Korean American student ("Have you had too much sake tonight?"). We can't trace any statement that betrayed an assumption about a racial stereotype. No one in this situation made chink eyes or boasted, "Yeah, we're racist."

    I wouldn't go so far as AngryAsianMan did, and label this as a racist crime. But unlike the commenter above, I don't think that the attack was just a coincidence and therefore dismiss the possibility of racial targeting. If anything, it could be a contributing factor (if not a primary one).

    I agree with the above commenter in that I believe that campus security is a critical issue (and it's a shame that our blog doesn't provide more of a space to talk about that), but to list the number and race of the students as a pure coincidence isn't just falsely colorblind; it's also naive.

    When it comes to muggings, there is always a strategy in whom muggers choose to attack. Maybe the muggers get crunched for time and have to target anyone who unluckily passes by Amsterdam Ave, or maybe they look for particularly skinny kids (to modify one of the Bwog comments); whatever that strategy may be is yet to be explained. So we can't draw any seriously false conclusions.

    But you're right in that Asian Americans do need to think about context because the people attacked are members of their community. To unite and think about the issue critically, whether or not it is about race or security, is the main initiative.

    I don't think that drawing attention to the fact that most of the students' being Asian takes away from campus security. If anything, I think past experiences show that campus security wants to reach out to students of certain communities who believe that race, gender, or class contribute to targeted mugging. Hopefully what we can do, by writing this, is shed light onto the need to explore the issue, if not completely resolve it.  

  3. David said...

    Whoa, that's not what I was trying to say AT ALL. This is a racial event merely because of the comments made. Just like Minghui Yu wasn't necessarily a racial event, until we learned what the kid said about him, and then we heard what everyone said about the incident itself... All we're trying to do is reverse some narratives that people are trying to paint around this incident, in keeping with what were said after Minghui Yu's death.  

  4. Anonymous said...

    I don't understand why Columbia University is not calling this a hate crime and why aren't the attackers being prosecuted as such. If they were whites attacking people of color Broadway would be clogged w/ protestors and that moron Rev. What'sHisName, would be foaming at the mouth on CNN.  


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