The only thing that shocked me about the Alexandra Wallace incident was the amount of backlash. In 2011, multiple Super Bowl commercials riff off of stereotypes of Asian-Americans, “greasy” inevitably precedes “Chinese,” “pan-Asian” and “Asian fusion” restaurants abound, the Mommy Wars’ newest battle involves That Tiger Mother, and once a week somebody curiously/aggressively/politely/cluelessly harasses me with, “no, but what ARE you?”
At UCSD, which is 40%-ish Asian, like Cal, UCLA, and UC Irvine, students of all races, including those of API heritage, regularly, offhandedly bitch about their fellow Asian-American students. I dare you to go one hour at any of those campuses — walking through Sproul or down Library Walk, or even just sitting in a lecture hall during class — without hearing somebody refer to “those Asians.” “How are there so many Asians here?” “Asian students aren’t actually smart; they just work hard.” “Did you see those fucking Asians on the way to class?” “Those Chinkers smoking are hilarious. Don’t they know they’re in a first-world country?” “God, why can’t they talk right?”
We make these comments like they’re jokes. “Those Asians.” But replace “Asian” with any other major American ethnic group — “those blacks,” “those Mexicans,” “those niggers,” “those beaners” — and you would catch some major fucking shit, at least at a university. You can bet your ass that a UCLA student wouldn’t be dumb enough to post a rant of themselves whining about “those black kids” and how they talk and how they spend too much damn time in the library on Youtube, because that sort of language is not publicly tolerated at any major university campus.
So yeah, given American culture’s appropriated paradigm of “children should be seen and not heard” to keep The Model Minority invisible, the only thing I do find surprising about all this is that enough Americans cared that the story got picked up by major news outlets. At the same time, I have to wonder if a major news outlet would’ve picked it up if the perpetrator weren’t such an easy target.
Even everyday newspapers employ throwaway gateway misogyny with such careless, but telling, editorializing in their news articles, such as “the video, which surfaced earlier this month, went viral after the blonde junior posted it on YouTube.” Of course, a huge number of individuals’ responses have been much more overtly misogynistic, seizing onto Ms. Wallace’s age, attire, breasts, vocal inflections, hair color, and just her gender, itself, among other things.
So, let’s be clear: although I appreciate many of your outrage and solidarity, don’t think her position of relative privilege enables you to use the same tools as the oppressors do. Don’t think that, just because she posted a racist Youtube video, you get to be a misogynist. Don’t think that, because she mocked the “Asian” language, you get to call her a bitch, or a cunt, or any other fucking lazyass gendered insult. Don’t think that because she was thoughtless and insensitive you get a free pass for being a chauvinist. Don’t think that because she exhibited some exceptionally problematic xenophobic and imperialist dogma you get to take up your pitchfork and torch and go and tar and feather the woman. Don’t think that because she just said in public what many of her peers already say in private, or just not on Youtube, I’ll forgive you for so readily seizing upon the opportunity to adopt the mob mentality. Don’t think that because somebody else was a jerk first that it’s okay for you to be one, too. We the silent are still watching you, and I, for one, don’t appreciate you parlaying someone else’s pain and struggle into just another opportunity for you to be an ignorant jackass.