I remember finals week at UCLA. I was an English major, so usually this meant chaining myself to my laptop surrounded by a foot-high stack of Shakespeare in the library.
Powell, the main campus library, is a landmark at UCLA. Ray Bradbury wrote his famous novel Fahrenheit 451 in just nine days on a rented typewriter in the basement of Powell. And more recently, the library made news when UCPD officers tasered a student after he resisted and refused to show identification. In the last few days, Powell has surfaced in the news once again.
Last Friday, an alleged UCLA student named Alexandra Wallace posted a YouTube video blog with inflammatory remarks against Asian students who share the library space with her.
At the peak of her rant, which expands to include Asian students living in Westwood, the neighborhood surrounding UCLA, she zeroes in on Asians on the phone in the library:
“I'll be in like deep into my studying, into my political science theories and arguments and all that stuff, getting it all down, like typing away furiously, blah blah, blah, and then all of a sudden when I'm about to like reach an epiphany... Over here from somewhere, "Ooooh Ching Chong Ling Long Ting Tong, Ooohhhhh.”
Alright, I’ve felt that same irritation against loud people in libraries -- it’s just not the place to do that. But Wallace takes it to a whole new level, turning it into a racial behavior, and tying it to the largest racial group of undergraduates admitted to the university last fall.
It gets worse:
“I swear they're going through their whole families, just checking on everybody from the tsunami thing. I mean I know, okay, that sounds horrible like I feel bad for all the people affected by the tsunami, but if you're gonna go call your address book like you might as well go outside because if something is wrong you might really freak out if you're in the library and everybody's quiet like you seriously should go outside if you're gonna do that. “
Talk about thoughtless timing.
She’s not the only one who took offense to all the “ching chong.” Since the video was posted on Friday, YouTube users not only “disliked” the video, but they posted Wallace’s email, phone number, home address (likely from her UCLA directory available to students) and a link to her profile on Examiner.com (which appears to have been taken down). Yikes -- of all places to launch a racist tirade against Asians, YouTube is probably the worst.
YouTubers -- some Asian, others not -- have posted responses. Inevitably, some YouTube comments pushed back against Wallace with the same ignorance and bigotry -- and more than just blonde jokes. Others are have a slightly bigger picture. One vlogger points out, tongue-in-cheek, that Wallace is simply emulating America as a whole. After all, Rush Limbaugh went on a ching-chong rant of his own a few weeks ago.
The original video was taken down, but several mirrrors of them were posted soon after. It's not so easy to take back something that has been posted on the interwebz, folks.
UCLA has since reacted to the video, according to the Daily Bruin: Viral YouTube video called "repugnant" by UCLA administration. A UCLA spokesperson noted that Wallace's comments are contrary to the school's campus values. He also mentioned that UCLA is looking into how the video was posted -- it could violate the campus' Internet use policies.
Here's the video below. Feel free to weigh in, but please be mindful and don't fight fire with fire.
The previous issue of Hyphen is available in its entirety for your perusing pleasure. Almost as good as having it right in your hands!