Wanna see something offensive?
If you, like me, practically live inside the internet (or “cloud” or whatever it’s being called now), you’ve probably already watched this horrendous video of a white undergraduate bashing her Asian peers (but not her Asian friends, you guys, of which I’m sure she has loads) in explicitly racist terms. She even throws in some “Asian” dialect à la Rosie O’Donnell and a reference to the recent earthquake in Japan, because that’s where all Asian people come from. Duh.
As my friend Jenny pointed out, this is why they have an American Cultures requirement at Berkeley–in the university’s words, “to introduce students to the diverse cultures of the United States through an intergrative and comparative framework.” This part of the curriculum turns twenty this year, and although/because it seems as though it’s been fashionably rebellious to be “politically incorrect” for just as long, I would guess that many of us think it’s worth preserving. For my part, I witnessed a lot of casual racism (not just against Asians) while I was at Berkeley, and to be sure, I said things in the past that would offend my present self. So in a way I feel sorry for this girl. She’s young, and young people do dumb things–that’s how they learn. In fact, my Berkeley education played an important role in sensitizing me to the ways in which various forms of difference have determined who gets social power and material wealth throughout human history.
This girl said deplorable things (into a camera, which was beyond foolish) but hopefully she learned from the mistake.* That’s what college is all about.
*The saying bad things part, not necessarily the camera part, although I hope for her sake she’ll use more discretion as far as what she films herself doing in the future.