(source)

Many of you have probably seen the recent anti-Asian rant released by UCLA student Alexandra Wallace. In it, she says that “hordes” of Asians who are admitted to UCLA inappropriately bring their parents along and obnoxiously speak foreign languages in the library (“Oooooooh! Ching chong, ling long, ting tong!? Ooooooh!”). And she compares them to herself, the “polite, nice, American girl that my momma raised me to be.”

Okay so yes, this is what racism looks like. It’s also what sexism looks like. People who objected to Wallace’s video (as they should), often did so with sexist language, including these examples collected by Caroline Heldman for Ms. magazine:

  • “I bet her grades match her cup size.”
  • “i have big tits and gave the dean a blowjob to get into UCLA is all I hear.”
  • “EXCUSE ME WHILE I WHIP MY DICK OUT AND JERK IT TO THOSE TITS.”

But the most interesting thing I’ve heard about Wallace’s video and the response came from What Tami Said.  Tami suggested that all the shock and outrage regarding Wallace’s racism was naive, at best, and delusional, at worst.  Expressing shock, she said, may be a way to spice up a headline.  Or, it might be reflective of a belief among some that this sort of racism doesn’t exist anymore.  Or, she speculates, expressing shock may be a way for people to distance themselves from people like Wallace, a way for them to advertise the notion that they aren’t racist.

Tami’s insight is that the language of shock deserves analysis in itself.  What does it mean that we’re expressing shock when events like this on college campuses are rather routine (e.g., see “Conquistabros and Navajos,” “Compton Cookouts,” and other race-mocking parties).

In any case, she doesn’t think it’s helpful:

I get that few understand “isms” like marginalized people… But, for God’s sake pay attention! You needn’t be victim to oppression to know it exists. I submit that if you are truly shocked in the face of racism and sexism and homophobia and transphobia and other injustices, then you are as big a problem as the perpetrators of same. Because people who persist in being unaware of “isms” create an environment where ridiculous people like Amanda Wallace and, more importantly, people with far greater power and influence can conduct their bigotry unchallenged.

 

Lisa Wade is a professor of sociology at Occidental College and the author of Gender: Ideas, Interactions, Institutions, with Myra Marx Ferree. You can follow her on Twitter and Facebook.
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