On Tuesday, a student discovered a piece of paper with the words “asian women R Honkie white-boy worshipping Whores” attached to a Vietnamese Student Union sign in Kerckhoff Hall at UCLA.
On Wednesday, another student found the words “Asian Women are White-Boy Worshipping Sluts” handwritten in the women’s bathroom of the library basement.
The Vietnamese Student Union released this press release in response to the first incident:
November 28, 2012
On November 27th, 2012 at approximately 8:30 AM, a piece of white paper was found posted on the sign of the Vietnamese Student Union’s (VSU) office on the fourth floor of Kerckhoff Hall. This vandalism, which included an illustration of an obscene hand gesture, read “asian women R Honkie white-boy worshipping Whores!!!” VSU is disappointed and offended that such racial and sexist comments are being made on a campus that prides itself on its diversity. It is truly upsetting that this is not simply an act of ignorance, but intolerance towards our organization. The fact that someone took the time to create, print, and post this hate crime in front of our office proves that this act is deliberate and intentional. This is not just an attack on our organization, but also an attack on the bigger API community and womyn#, especially of color.
The incident carries several implications for society’s view of Asian womyn. By categorizing Asian womyn as “whores”, the perpetrator of this incident further promotes stereotypes of hypersexuality and objectification. This message conveys the image of Asian womyn as mere sex objects rather than human beings and rejects their personal identity. Moreover, it reinforces the idea that Asian womyn have an innate attraction towards whites to the point of submissive reverence. This belief creates division within our community and across communities by portraying White males as the dominant group. Asian males who have become socialized to feel foreign or inferior to Whites can feel sexually threatened by White males and express contempt towards their female counterparts. This message breeds divisiveness and seeks to undo the work of many people of color and allies.
As the official voice for all Vietnamese students at UCLA, VSU is against the objectification of womyn. Events and issues such as pageants and human trafficking only perpetuate such notions, and VSU has made strong stances against them. The racist and sexist slurs within the front of our office only proves that we as an organization must continue to promote diversity and advocate for the needs of our community. Each year, VSU hosts its annual Vietnamese Culture Night (VCN) in Royce Hall to promote and share Vietnamese and Vietnamese-American culture with thousands of UCLA students, family, and alumni. Events like this aim to increase the presence of our community not only at UCLA, but as contributing members of our society, and combat stereotypes and ignorance demonstrated by the incident mentioned. It is especially relevant that the comments posted outside our office occur just months before our 33rd annual VCN, which will seek to address the issue of human trafficking and challenge the perceptions of Vietnamese and Asian womyn.
Although there is no quick fix solution to the incident that has transpired, we want to ensure that it will not go unnoticed. We feel the most effective action that will begin addressing this issue is to first generate awareness. Awareness alone brings light to this issue and opens opportunities for critical dialogue and potential action. This will come in the form of an awareness event held by the Vietnamese Student Union on Thursday November 29th, 2012 at noon at Meyerhoff Park in front of Kerckhoff Hall. To effectively gauge the demographic affected by this incident, this event allows prominent student leaders and UCLA faculty to demonstrate that our community is not silent and any further ideations of such actions are not tolerated. To further branch out to the demographic and allies of our cause, the Asian Pacific Coalition at UCLA will open a discussion forum Wednesday December 5th, 2012 at a time and location to be announced. Not only will this event promote awareness but also give some peace of mind to individuals who feel unresolved about the issue.
The Vietnamese Student Union at UCLA
For me, this incident hits home as a Bruin who walked that same campus during my own undergraduate years. I can definitely imagine how uneasy– and yes, unsafe– it would be for a young Asian woman to feel, wondering how anyone on that campus could feel that way or at least be brazen (or stupid) enough to post them. I imagine that if I was that age today, this would be the topic that would be consuming me outside of academics, as I was actually a representative member of the Asian Pacific Coalition, an umbrella organization of a multitude of Asian and Pacific Islander (API) organizations on campus. I’m glad to see that this generation of college-aged APIs are not letting this incident go down without letting it be known that they won’t tolerate intolerance. Given the swift campus response to Alexandra Wallace’s racist YouTube rant about Asians in the library (also known as the Ching Chong Ling Long Ting Tong video), this is should be no surprise to anyone. (Go Bruins!)
Images from AngryAsianMan