Opinion | Miami needs to take action; condem racist Twitter account as a form of clear cyberbullying
Published: Thursday, February 28, 2013
Updated: Thursday, February 28, 2013 22:02
Dear Miami Community, President Hodge, Associate Vice President of Institutional Diversity, Office of Diversity Affairs and Beta Theta Pi:
I am writing to call upon all of us to condemn the offensive, discriminatory Oxford Asians Twitter account that a Miami senior (a member of the Beta Theta Pi fraternity) has maintained for about six months as “benign humor” and all of its 986 followers. Let me begin by quoting some appalling Tweets from this account to demonstrate their bigotry and racial insensitivity: “Found the cutest cat outside of Thompson. I named him lunch box special,” “found out my girlfriend has B cups. Dumped her because they not A,” “Ohhh I think I’m in your group for the project! Don’t worry I won’t come to meetings. If I do I act like I don’t know what you saying,” “Lorraine it’s okay people have trouble saying my name too.”
These are just a few examples of a lot more hurtful Tweets being passed around as “funny” at the expense of Asian students, a growing minority population at Miami. The Twitter account also contains distasteful images ridiculing and stereotyping Asian students.
Apparently, its author has clarified that the “account was meant to be a parody site,” adding: “It is not intended to offend anyone with this account. Any other interpretation of the account concerns me.”
What’s worse, since the publication of this comment in an online column, an anonymous reader left the following remark defending the insulting tweets: “Humor is just that—humor. We poke fun at Asians, blacks, whites, Mexicans, etc. equally. It’s a way of accepting difference. If you call everything out as being blatantly racist, then you’re too sensitive. Learn to laugh it off. White people have plenty of stereotypes as well, especially here at Miami, so why not poke fun back?”
While I commend the author’s action to take down his Twitter account, I am bothered—and we all should be—at the lack of initial consciousness or awareness about the potential harm such outrageous tweets would bring to our institution and its community.
I am disappointed by the suggestion that we should simply laugh off hurtful stereotypes because this overlooks the bigotry, harm—and worse, prejudice that are being masked on campus. Dismissing the tweets as humorous suggests that the author and the commentator have both failed to accept responsibility or recognize the harm that is being done here.
As an Asian American student at Miami, I am not only offended but also hurt by such stereotypes and prejudice against my identity. I see the Oxford Asian tweets as a form of cyber racial bullying, something I did not expect to experience in an intellectual environment. They make me and other Asian students feel targeted and unwelcome on campus.
Worse yet, with 986 followers of the account, I am afraid Oxford Asians sends the wrong message about Miami. In short, such bigotry being passed as “humor” devastates the minority population and damages the prestige of our university. Therefore, I am asking all of us to voice our disapproval against this instance of cyber racial bullying. This unfortunate event presents a good teaching/learning opportunity for the larger Miami community, including the author, defender and followers of the tweets.
Specifically, I am calling upon the university to issue a formal condemnation against this racially prejudicial act.
The Asian community and I are counting on your responses, President Hodge, Office of Diversity Affairs, Associate Vice President of Institutional Diversity. Please don’t disappoint us.
Most importantly, as the Miami Plan is being revised, I would like to suggest that we do a better job in raising critical awareness and educating students about inclusion, diversity and the ethics of communication. Maturity and anti-bullying lessons, I am afraid, might also need to be added to our public ivy curriculum for some students.
Let’s make a strong statement to affirm that racial stereotypes, bigotry, bullying, immaturity, etc. have NO PLACE on our campus, online and elsewhere. Only then can we be proud of the so called “love and honor” our institution is claiming to represent.
P.S. I would like to acknowledge the faculty who took an active stand against the hateful Tweets: Dr. Madelyn Detloff, Dr. Jason Palmeri, Dr. Anita Manur and Dr. Ron Becker.