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The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

We are all human

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An Asian American’s experience of racism at St. Joe’s

I recently received an email asking me to pose for pictures that would show an “authentic” image of St. Joe’s. However, when I walk around on campus, I don’t see 10 people that look like me.

I was on the fence about writing this experience. What’s the point of me writing about a painful experience that affected me because of my Asian American identity, especially when it seems that the university isn’t going to do anything about it?

I remember this event like it was yesterday. It was my first year, Labor Day weekend. I was walking to my Uber when I passed a white St. Joe’s student wearing a sorority shirt. I had headphones in, and when I saw her look at me and move her mouth I thought she was going to ask me something.

I wasn’t prepared for what came out of her mouth.

She said, “All you Asians are everywhere,” “f—ing chink and ching-chong.” I was so surprised that I didn’t know how to respond.

The girl proceeded to laugh in my face, push me and walk off. I stood there shocked until my Uber honked at me, snapping me out of my stupor. Only select people on this campus knew about what had happened to me, and many people ask me, “Why didn’t you say anything?”

But let’s be realistic. It was my word against a white student’s word. On a campus where it’s almost 80% white people, who were they going to believe? The white girl or the Chinese girl from Brooklyn? I believe this is the case because it’s the majority of the university against the minority and numbers wise, I was at disadvantage.

Being Asian American and having someone call me “chink/ching-chong,” a racial slur, demeaned my existence as a person. The student who called me that slur must have felt great about herself because she laughed it off as if it was nothing, and my thoughts and feelings didn’t matter.

I believe certain people on this campus think and act this way because they’ve grown up in an environment where their actions weren’t met with consequences. They were never called out for the things they’ve said.

Don’t believe me? Look at the recent events of white students throwing the N-word around because they think it’s cool and nothing will happen to them. They’ve never had to grow up in the way a person of color or minority person had to.

From an early age, we had it drilled into our heads that our actions and words have consequences if they go unchecked. We could end up hurt or worse, dead.

I remember being 8 or 9 years old and being at home with my parents when I told them that I had gotten into an argument with another kid in my class because he went around saying that Chinese people ate rats and we were dirty. I had told him if he didn’t stop saying that then I would beat him up and that he was stupid and a piece of trash.

My dad replied saying I couldn’t be shooting my mouth off like that, because essentially I wasn’t white and I couldn’t get away with it.

Whereas, if a white kid were to say something like that they could get away with it because the majority of the staff is white and the kid could go home and tell their parents. Their parents could in turn come after me.

After my dad had told me that, I thought it was unfair because to me, we were both human and he had said something that was messed up. I simply responded to his statement.      

But please correct me and call me out if you think I’m wrong and that St. Joe’s truly does care. Because the university does such a good job on marketing itself to the public even more so to students of color and saying that they value us, but once we get onto campus, it’s almost like we’re forgotten.

When it comes time to accept the new class of students and they need good promotional content to attract new students, then students of color will be bombarded with emails for photo requests to give an “authentic” image of St. Joe’s. Show us, prove it to us that students of color are just as important as the white students on this campus.

When it comes time to accept students, make it very clear that acts of bias won’t be tolerated. There needs to be systemic change because just changing the student isn’t going to do anything; there also needs to be more diversity amongst the faculty and staff on campus. Believe me and my experiences on Hawk Hill.

After all, we’re human too.   

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