On Monday, April 24, the men’s intramural volleyball championship took place at the Woodruff P.E. Center between Beta Theta Pi and a team made up of predominantly Asian-American students. Each team had a number of fans cheering them on. In the middle of the second game, we heard the Beta fans cheering something. The meaning was not imminently clear for the first few seconds, but the racially-charged cheer soon struck us like a bolt of unwelcome, unrelenting lightning that rooted us to where we stood in shock.
“USA! USA! USA!” cheered the Beta fans with their fists pumping in the air as they chanted again and again. Suddenly, our yellow skin, black hair and Asian heritage became the target of this subtle, yet jarring taunt. With each declaration, we felt more alienated. Suddenly, we weren’t Americans, born and raised, but “Others” who didn’t belong.
It is difficult to explain the emotions that wash over you when you are subjected to such cruel and inconsiderate actions. What should you do? Do you yell back? Do you tell the intramural coordinator who is watching the game, listening to the same chant you are? Do you just take it and brush it off as a joke?
In the few seconds we had to react, we joined them in their chant.
“USA! USA!” we yelled back. We yelled not because we needed to retaliate, but because we wanted to let the Beta fans know how truly ignorant their cheer was. Most of us were born here in the United States, and our loyalties lie with the country that has given us so much. Gloria Kang pulled out an American flag from her bag and draped it across her shoulders. True American pride. Because that is who we are: we are Asian-Americans.
Type in diversity.emory.edu and you’ll find a Diversity Profile that outlines Emory University Composition Statistics. This 52-page, multi-colored document is meant to indicate just how diverse Emory is, with students coming from every state in the United States as well as 140 different countries. Ironically, the pages upon pages of statistics, pie charts, graphs and numbers do not reflect upon the main issue that we stumbled upon this past Monday: having diversity contributes greatly to the community but it does not automatically eliminate racially and ethnically intolerance and ignorance.
Eleanor Roosevelt wisely stated that “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent,” and we the writers of this editorial do not consent to this blatant act of racial intolerance. We will not sit by and let those students define us. This act of discriminatory harassment will not be forgotten.
We ask that all those who have ever been subjected to intolerance in any form because of their ethnicity, race, national origin, gender, age, disability, religion, sexual orientation or any other separating status know that the Emory administration is very willing to hear your voice and encourages you to come forth if you have every felt this way at Emory.
Emory is proud of its stance on diversity and its multi-colored student body. The commitment that Emory has made to its students and faculty should never condone these acts. Discrimination against Asian-Americans is predominantly unreported because of our familial nature to tolerate and not make a “big deal.”
We are not standing by or brushing it off. We do not consent. We are raising our voices.
The students hurt by this incident have met with a representative number of the Beta fraternity. We have started an enlightening conversation on racial and ethnic sensitivity. We hope this discussion will continue for years to come. Additionally, we maintain our love and pride for the unified Emory community. We look to all types of students for their support and hope that the conversation we have started will speak to them and empower them to raise their voices. And finally, we appreciate the great amount of feedback we have received from students, professional staff and administration.
Emily Wang, Joanne Kim, Gloria Kang and Daniel Cho are College seniors.