UCLA Asian Pacific Coalition students respond to the incredibly racist and offensive video (now taken down) posted by UCLA student Alexandra Wallace. The APC response is well articulated, thoughtful, and assertive – well worth reading. Here’s an excerpt:
On Sunday, March 13th, an alarming video was re-posted on You Tube from the Facebook account of a UCLA student. The video, titled “Asians in the Library”, chronicled the student’s racist tirade against the Asian American and Pacific Islander communities at UCLA. Within hours, the video re-posted on various forms of social media, where members of the community viewed and responded to the video. The resulting reaction reveals an alarmingly dangerous campus climate and an underlying current of racism and prejudice still vibrantly alive in America. The Asian Pacific Coalition and API communities at UCLA would like to issue the following response:
In her public comment to the UCLA community, Alexandra Wallace expressed her concern about the “hordes of Asian people that UCLA accepts into our school every year.” On a campus that boasts a student population of 40% Asian Americans and Pacific Islander communities (API), Wallace’s comments are both insensitive and revelatory of the flawed mainstream perception of the API community. Many view API’s as a uniform aggregate, thereby failing to acknowledge the diversity within the API community and perpetuating the view of API’s as the model minority and the foreign “they” who unfairly get accepted into “our” school. Wallace perpetuates the “us” versus “them” rhetoric in her comments, thereby expressing distaste in API’s and an even greater anxiety that “foreigners” are taking over UCLA.
Hence, as a community, we demand the following:
1) We call for a public apology from Alexandra Wallace. Her words and actions are not in line with the UCLA Student Code of Conduct, which states:
“The University strives to create an environment that fosters the values of mutual respect and tolerance and is free from discrimination based on race, ethnicity, sex, religion, sexual orientation, disability, age, and other personal characteristics.”
2) We call for UCLA to take the appropriate disciplinary measures befitting of Wallace’s violation against the UCLA Student Code of Conduct and UCLA’s Principle of Community, which states:
“We do not tolerate acts of discrimination, harassment, profiling or other harm to individuals on the basis of expression of race, color, ethnicity, gender, age, disability, religious beliefs, political preference, sexual orientation, gender identity, citizenship, or national origin among other personal characteristics. Such acts are in violation of UCLA’s Principles of Community and subject to sanctions according to campus policies governing the conduct of students, staff and faculty.” 
3) We call for UCLA to issue a statement addressing this incident. UCLA must demonstrate its commitment to a culture of diversity, respect, tolerance, and acceptance for all communities by standing against such acts.
4) We call for the UCLA Academic Senate to pass a requirement in the general education curriculum grounded in the UCLA Principles of Community.
Some Asian Americans created a remix video overlaying Ms. Wallace’s tirade with orientalist sound effects and lyrics. I’m not going to lie; it’s pretty funny.
Shifting gears: as someone who 1) graduated from UCLA with both a BA and MA in Asian American Studies 2) was involved in UCLA Asian American student life 3) worked at the UCLA Asian American Studies Center and 4) am now a professor of Library and Information Science, I have the following to say:
- This tirade is race-based hate speech. There’s no rationalizing or explaining it away. It’s hateful.
- Students who exhibit such race-based hate speech are an embarrassment to UCLA and should be duly punished for their irresponsible actions.
- UCLA must respond. The situation – and we – demand it.
- Racialized hate speech perpetuates hateful behaviors. White lynchers spoke about hating black people before lynching. Hitler and his soldiers spoke about concentration camps before they built them. I’m not suggesting that Ms. Wallace is going to go physically hurt Asian Americans, but her hateful speech condones hatred towards a particular group of students, and people act out their hate in different ways.
- That Ms. Wallace even thought about this, recorded and then posted her YouTube video indicates a major fail on the part of our education system. Without inclusive, social justice curriculum in Pre-K through 12th grade, and mandatory ethnic and cultural studies courses in high school and college, these kinds of behaviors will persist. We’re not a post-race society just because we have a half black president. We’re obviously not there yet. Make ethnic studies mandatory.
- There’s nothing “American” about good manners. See The Ugly American.
- It really grieves me that Ms. Wallace located her tirade in the space of the library. I see it as my moral responsibility to make sure that libraries are safe spaces for everyone – white, black, Asian, differently abled, sexually whatever. Librarians have the right to remove patrons whose words and behaviors pose a threat or are a nuisance to other patrons, whether because they’re talking too loudly on their phones or spewing hateful speech.