Belgian School Posts Obscenely Racist ‘Corona Time’ Photo for End of the Year Party

Editor’s Note: This post has been updated to further clarify that the post originated from a Belgian high school where they speak Flemish, the dialect of Dutch predominately spoken in Belgium. The Dutch language is native to the Netherlands.

Over a dozen students at a Dutch Flemish high school in Belgium have sparked outrage after posting a photo on social media dressed in stereotypical Asian attire while holding a sign that reads “Corona Time”.

The photo was first posted on Instagram and Facebook by Sin-Paulus Campus College Waregem, a secondary school in Belgium, according to The Independent

A total of 19 students can be seen in “traditional” costumes, at least one wearing blue latex gloves and a face mask, two of them dressed as pandas, and one girl can be seen doing the slant-eye gesture. The school has since removed the post from it’s social media, deleting their Facebook and Instagram accounts as a result.

According to Belgium-based newspaper Krant van West-Vlaanderen, campus director Philip Demuynck issued a statement on behalf of the students:

“Neither the school team, nor the students in question, have intended to hurt this photo. We want to apologize explicitly, because we had not correctly estimated the consequences.”

The post was reportedly planned last year by senior students who chose a Chinese theme to celebrate their last 100 days of school, a yearly tradition. Coincidentally, that was the same month that COVID-2019 first began to reveal itself in Wuhan, China. The “Corona Time” sign and face mask were added in response to the outbreak that has since spread around the world and killed thousands.

The post saw backlash from a racism against Asians awareness group in the Netherlands called “Broodje Kaas Met Sambal”, which translates to “Cheese Sandwich with Sambal” after the Indonesian chili sauce.

 

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⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ EDIT: for the non-Dutch readers, this picture was posted and later on deleted by @collegewaregem (a high school located in Belgium). ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ De bovenstaande foto werd door de scholengemeenschap Sint-Paulus, Campus College Waregem geplaatst op hun social mediakanalen waaronder Instagram en Facebook. Ondertussen heeft de school in stilte de foto’s verwijderd, maar hiermee is het probleem zeker niet opgelost en laat maar weer eens zien hoe hard het nodig is om de thema’s racisme en discriminatie te behandelen in het onderwijs. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ College Waregem, jullie promoten jezelf als een school waar jullie ‘jonge mensen helpen uitgroeien tot wijze mensen: respectvol, verantwoordelijk, geëngageerd en sociaal’. Aan de hand van de bovenstaande foto vragen velen van ons zich dan toch echt af wat jullie verstaan onder deze termen? Jullie leerlingen die zich verkleden als wat waarschijnlijk moet voorstellen als ‘Chinezen’ met ‘oosterse’ kostuums en een leerling die spleetogen trekt waarbij de associatie met het Coronavirus wordt gemaakt is op zijn minst gezegd het tegenovergestelde van respectvol. Verder noemen jullie jezelf geëngageerd, oftewel maatschappelijk betrokken bij de problemen van onze tijd. Maar om heel eerlijk te zijn denk ik dat jullie totaal geen besef hebben van de maatschappelijke problemen, zoals het onderwerp racisme jegens Aziaten, om maar even bij de foto te blijven. Als onderwijsinstelling hebben jullie een zeer grote invloedsfactor op de toekomstige generatie. Het feit dat jullie dit soort gedrag goedkeuren en het zelf ook promoten op jullie kanalen is verre van verantwoordelijk en laat zien dat er iets goed mis is bij jullie. Misschien is het hoog tijd om de verantwoordelijkheid te nemen? ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Racisme op scholen, het begint al bij ‘Hanky Panky Shanghai’ op jonge leeftijd aangeleerd door de leerkrachten zelf. Het wordt hoog tijd dat er meer geïnvesteerd wordt in onderwijs en de leraren en kinderen het onderwerp racisme bespreekbaar maken. Op de laatste foto staan de contactgegevens van de school. Via de website kun je contact opnemen met zowel het directieteam als het schoolbestuur.

A post shared by @ broodjekaasmetsambal on

The group revealed the school responsible, adding that the photos were silently removed.

“In the meantime, the school has silently removed the photos, but this certainly does not solve the problem and shows once again how much it is necessary to deal with racism and discrimination in education.

“As an educational institution, you have a very large influence on the future generation. The fact that you approve of this kind of behaviour and promote it yourself on your channels is far from responsible and shows that something is wrong with you.

“Maybe it’s high time to take responsibility?”

Rotterdam-based photographer Rui Jun Luong also posted about the photo on Facebook, writing, “Unbelievable. How can people get it into their head [that it is ok] to put this on, make the board, pose for the photo including gloves and pulling eyes?”

The post has since been widely condemned on social media:

Racism and xenophobia in response to the panic and fear caused by the virus has led to a marked increase in harassment, discrimination and violence against all Asians around the world. In addition to safety measures to take to stop the spread of the virus and what to do if you think you have it, members of Asian communities everywhere are urged to be aware of their surroundings at all times and stay safe.

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