MUSIC, LEADERSHIP, CULTURE… and humor (sometimes)

We Are All Responsible – some thoughts on Alexandra

It shocks me every time I come across racism. I can relate to Madonna when she sings about being “touched for the very first time” granted she is talking about something completely different in the song.  I, like a racist-rant virgin, am touched in a very negative way for the first time, every time.

The year is 2011 so one would think that after all that our country (the grand ol’ US and A!) has been through, we’d be a little more educated, a little more understanding and a little less racist.  This is not the case.  Yes, we are progressive and on the cutting edge but that doesn’t stop one from carrying an iPhone in one hand and still slant-eye gesturing someone with the other. Painfully sad and deeply upsetting to say the least.

Some of my friends and I were shooting some recent stories and examples of racism via twitter this past weekend and right on cue, this video surfaces out of UCLA.  Most of you have probably seen it by now but in case you haven’t or you need a refresher, take a look below.  May I present to you, Alexandra:

Lucky for you, I am not about to unleash my wrathful thoughts on racism here on this platform.  I think enough of that has been done and will continue to be done on the youtube page as well as in private conversations.  All I want to do is offer some observations laced with some opinion and hope for a good discussion afterward.

Let me start off by saying I feel sorry for Alexandra.  I really do.  I think the poor girl was just trying to be funny, amusing, and provocative but everything just came across a bit racist, ignorant, and dumb (and by “a bit” I mean VERY).  Her insensitive and inane comments regarding what’s happening in Japan were distasteful to say the least.  I wonder what life on campus is/will be like for her, if she’ll even be able to  continue her education at UCLA, and if her life will ever be the same.  If she indeed is racist, she chose the wrong place to go to school.  If you’re allergic to peanuts, do you go work for Planters?

I wouldn’t be surprised if she feels a little bad about this given the overwhelmingly angry response she is getting from the public– including death threats.  I just don’t know what else she could have expected though.  My man Antoine Dodson said it best: “You are dumb.  You are really dumb.  Fa’ real!”

The unfortunate thing that happens with things like these is that the conversation quickly becomes an “us against them” thing. In this instance, I suppose it’s “The Angry Asians vs. The Racist Blonds.”  I don’t know if that’s necessarily fair nor helpful.

I say this because I love my white folks with all my heart.  Some of my favorite people in the world and best friends are white.  My favorite foods, actors, musicians, leaders and clothing stores are “white.”  As much as I hate to admit it, Brad Pitt is one good looking guy and my wife has every right to comment on that fact– as long as she reminds me she loves me more.  I love Conan O’Brien, flannel shirts and cardigans, In N Out, and Blake Griffin (he sorta counts, right?).

What is my point?  I am American. My parents may have immigrated from South Korea but “this land belongs to you and me.”

My friendships remind me that one Alexandra does not merit a generalization against an entire race of people.

To Alexandra and those like her: for every Asian you encounter with bad manners and annoying accents, you will meet plenty more who don’t fit your awful picture of who we all are.  I think I’m pretty fly for a non-white guy.  Please, think before you speak, diversify your friendships, try a little kimchi, and cover up when filming a video that’s about to go viral.  By the way, it’s not too late– you can make things right but it will take some time.  Hope you’re game.

To my Asian folk, how we respond to things like this will either perpetuate the racism issue or help solve it.  We hold incredible responsibility in our hands as well.


Finally, if there are any Asian UCLA students who come across this blog entry, I wonder what it would do to Alexandra’s world if you found out where she lived, not so that you could meet her face with a fist, but rather to invite her out to a lunch conversation?  That may sound crazy but I think crazy issues require crazy solutions.  I challenge you with this.

What do you guys think?  Am I being too calm about this or is what I am saying resonating with some of you?

This is an issue we all have to work together toward resolving, whether your hair is blond or your eyes are small (like mine).


11 responses

  1. Amy

    “If you’re allergic to peanuts, do you go work for Planters?”


    March 15, 2011 at 8:19 am

  2. DK

    glad you liked that one, Amy. sorta proud of it, myself 😉

    March 15, 2011 at 8:49 am

  3. check out this response: /not saying i agree!

    March 15, 2011 at 8:54 am

  4. DK

    that was a hilarious video. and just because i laughed doesn’t mean i agree either!

    March 15, 2011 at 10:17 am

  5. Carol

    I haven’t watched the video (on purpose because I don’t like feeling angry about this sort of thing) but I think it’s interesting to see people’s reaction and comments to this. Youtube and the internet has opened all sorts of doors. People have sucked just as much before all this technology!

    March 15, 2011 at 10:45 am

  6. DK

    carol – it’s true. Youtube and social media opens up the floodgates to expose us to how much people “suck.” People have sucked since the beginning of time but we can see it at a whole other level now. I think there’s equal possibility to counter that with good and helpful conversations, using the same platforms. the choice is ours!

    March 15, 2011 at 11:01 am

  7. Amy

    That video is hilarious.

    March 15, 2011 at 11:03 am

  8. Anonymous

    This girl deserves expulsion for at least a semester and community service. Lessons are presented until they are learned.

    March 15, 2011 at 3:56 pm

  9. Ashley

    Dk, it’s the “U.S. of A” =) I agree with your post. It’s sad that racism still exists, but I really believe that everyone making hateful comments and the things being said about her are no better. How is someone who says hateful things about her, any different. They aren’t. Of course I don’t completely understand how someone who is Asian must feel about this video, because I’m not Asian. But I don’t have to be to understand racism. Racism exists against all races. Someone mentioned how Alexandra would feel if a tragedy hit her home town and she was calling loved ones and someone posted a video about her like this. They went on to say they didn’t think anyone would do that and would be sympathetic. But that’s not exactly fair. No one can say what anyone would do. I encourage someone who hasn’t made a racist remark or thought a racist thought to comment on this, and if you haven’t, how did you get to be so perfect?? Whether it’s a small thought, or just subconsciously I think everyone does it at least at some point. I don’t think there is a single intelligent, sympathetic, reasonable person who thinks what Alexandra did was smart or appropriate, we can all agree on that. What I don’t agree on is the hate. I like your proposition, maybe some Asians should take her out to lunch, she obviously needs some culture and some love.

    March 15, 2011 at 6:59 pm

  10. DK

    Ashley – thanks for your thoughts. I definitely value them here! First off, the “U.S. AND A” is a reference to BORAT. A cult hero of sorts, is he not? Sorry if you missed the reference… i wasn’t very clear on that! 🙂
    I agree with you and consider it one of my key positions in regards to racism when we say that any sort of verbal retaliation usually makes the situation worse.
    Yes, we are all guilty of racist thoughts and no one is perfect in this regard (or any regard for that matter).
    What we have to be careful about, though, is the simple dismissal of offense committed. Let’s point out, acknowledge the wrong and listen to the voices of those offended. Mutual understanding is so key.
    Finally, a lot of grace and patience is gonna be necessary in order to learn from each other, forgive, and move forward in the conversation. Thanks for the input!

    March 15, 2011 at 7:22 pm

  11. Pingback: The End of 40 Days! A Best Of… «

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