Asian Columnist at UC Berkeley Faces Criticisms For Racially-charged Opinion Pieces
By Ryan General
July 6, 2016
A female student’s controversial column for UC Berkeley’s school paper “The Daily Californian” has received criticism for its racially charged, sexually-explicit content.
The author, Maggie Lam, claims that she writes “about reclaiming the Asian-American narrative surrounding the immigrant experience.” In her three pieces for the paper titled, “Speaking Out,” “Fucking White Boys,” and “Choosing Myself Over White People,” she uses strong, offensive words to describe the caucasian roommate and male partner she encounters on campus.
In an article called “Fucking White Boys”, she labeled a white guy named Sam a “fuck boy,” and criticizes how white men view white and non-white women differently.
In an explicitly detailed story, Lam wrote about how she initiated a sexual encounter with Sam, which was apparently against his will. Readers were quick to point out that her actions were already bordering on sexual assault, that if were gender roles were reversed, would cause a huge ruckus in the campus.
“So let me get this straight. He was intoxicated. He was hesitant to keep hooking up with you, and when he told you why he wasn’t giving you enthusiastic consent you said ‘I don’t fucking care.’ He repeatedly stopped and voiced his lack of enthusiasm. You continued, blatantly disregarding his repeatedly voiced trepidation. Sounds like pretty textbook sexual assault to me,” said one reader’s comment.
In a Berkeley subreddit post titled “Why do we let The Daily Cal continue like this?”, a user called Lam’s “Fucking White Boys,“ a “breach of the editorial staff’s journalistic duty.” The Reddit user further stated that the article was: “hateful, and uses language — in the headline, no less — that denigrates an entire group of people because of the perceived actions of one; as well as normalizes ignoring the “positive consent” rules the University community is trying so hard to implement.
Another reader, however, commented that any comment for or against her writing would mean nothing to her as, “She’s not interested in finding truth or actual justice,” the comment read.”She’s using a social justice narrative to further her own interests, obtain power, and cover up her insecurities. For her, the right answers are the ones that she immediately benefits from the most. It’s very rational, in a way,” it concluded.
In her piece titled “Speaking Out”, Lam called out her roommate, “Becky,” for exhibiting what she called “symptoms of white privilege.” She narrated how they debated on whether their dorm should be allowed to exclude white residents as it was already transitioning to a “People of Color House.” She also branded Becky as a “white devil,” who “smelled like a skinny white girl,” and who engages in “microaggressions.”
In the same article, she also blames hipsters for their supposed role in cultural oppression brought about by gentrification, which she dubbed “white savior circle jerk.” She then accused university campus white men of being stereotypical about “exotic” Asian women, which she pointed out to be rooted in UC Berkeley’s “history of white, patriarchal rape culture.”
In her piece titled “Choosing Myself Over White People“, Lam blames the caucasian students on campus for creating a culture where white acquaintances are given special preference. Her readers note that her choice of words might not have been as acceptable if tables were turned and voiced out by a white person. Her use of racially demeaning terms such as “the white devil,” for example, may be going a bit overboard.
One common point of debate on free speech on college campuses has been the double standard imposed to different speakers based on their content. And while some observers believe that Lam’s too provocative writing would eventually trigger demands for expulsion, defenders of free speech would argue that ideas, no matter how controversial, are crucial to education and progress and must be allowed to be heard.
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