As an Asian-American, I was naturally disappointed in Kappa Sigma’s insensitive party theme. I was equally disappointed, however, in how Asian student organizations on campus chose to respond to this crisis. The president of the Asian Students Association, among other students, posted flyers printed with photos of party attendants from Facebook—many of girls in compromising positions. A group called the Asian American Alliance used a host of inflammatory rhetoric and called for a protest of Kappa Sigma. These acts are antagonistic in nature—they seek to retaliate and humiliate, not to promote rational discourse or respect for other cultures.
I am outraged by this party theme, and I am also outraged at those who fail to understand why this party theme is offensive to Asians. But outrage is not the answer. Directing my outrage toward Kappa Sigma will not ameliorate the damage they have caused. Directing my outrage at those who continue to maintain that this party theme wasn’t offensive won’t give them a better appreciation of Asian culture or a better respect of the Asian race. Directing my outrage at those responsible for the flyers or hosting the protest won’t lead to better alternatives for promoting cross-cultural understanding. Outrage will only devolve into a he-said-she-said argument, and fail to bridge an already divided student body.
As Duke’s largest minority group, we Asians had the opportunity to take the high road and truly break new ground in eliminating these cultural insensitivities, a problem that seems to plague Duke perennially. But we chose instead to fight fire with fire, and as a result we’ve burned the bridges that used to connect us as a student body. Now it’s time to put the fire out and rebuild those bridges. Let’s stop the finger pointing, and start things over with a simple handshake.
Johnny Wei, Trinity ’14