By Camille Park, JCamp repoter
Proponents of racial equality are speaking up as the United States strives toward a more accepting environment.
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One such proponent is Jing Ren, a University of Pennsylvania student. Ren, who is Chinese, discussed the importance of active roles within cultures as she stood on the National Mall on Sunday. She said she has friends who study Asian civilization.
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“I think it’s really good that they know so much about China,” she said. But, she would prefer that someone who is from China “stands out and talks about it instead of letting those who learn about it from a book talk about it.”
Jeremy Wong, of Arizona, said may not be as obvious as it once was.
“I don’t think it is an everyday occurrence, but you hear little undertones here and there,” said Wong, who was also at the National Mall. “Back in high school, I think it was more severe because I went to a high school in a more ghetto-ish kind of area and because of that, there were racial things thrown all over the place.” He said he was subjected to snide comments about the sexuality of Asian males.
Theodore Kwon, also of Arizona, said he had a different experience.
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“Maybe it’s just a product of where I’ve been raised but Arizona is pretty diverse so there isn’t much of it that I’ve encountered,” Kwon said. “I think for me, the main cultural issue is that Asian Americans do things a little differently from American culture.”
The experiences of Asians born in America may differ from those born in Asia.
“I have not faced it,” said Lian Lam, of Vietnam. “Only some jokes, but I do not care.”
Every person defines the term “racist” differently. According to Kwon, what is racist to one person may just be an observation to another.
Wong, on the other hand, believes that subtle racism can be problematic. For example, he recalled times when he was asked, “Where are you from from?”
Like Kwon, Ren said she believes some stereotypes are cultural descriptions rather than culturally appropriating generalizations.
“No stereotype is without its merit because people usually get that conclusion from a statistical result,” Ren said, specifically referring to Asian educational success.
She does, however, make exceptions.
“If they’re malicious jokes then I don’t think they’re appropriate” Ren said. “I think it’s fine when a racial group is joking about themselves. That gives people a positive attitude about it.”
Ren believes in cooperation between people who stereotype and those who are on the receiving end.
“It’s a dual process,” Ren said. “It’s important that people shouldn’t make judgments. It’s also important that you, yourself, actively stand out.”