Harvard Sparks Outrage After Telling Students ‘You May Wish That You Weren’t Asian’

Harvard has come under fire for posting offensive messages including, “You may wish that you weren’t Asian” on its “Anti-Asian Racism Resources” page. 

The school’s Counseling and Mental Health Services had originally sent out the resources to address the rise of anti-Asian bias and attacks since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The now-deleted message read, “When you experience racism, you can feel shame. You may wish that you weren’t Asian, but remember that your ancestors likely went through similar or even worse incidents,” according to Newsweek

Student Matteo Wong took to Twitter on Tuesday to express his disappointment. 

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According to Wong, Harvard continued by saying “Your ancestors likely went through similar or even worse incidents. They survived by recognizing the beauty and strength of their community. So, seek out or create literature, art, films, shows, and music that highlight your community in a positive light.”

The junior student found the school’s recommendations outrageous.

The messages allegedly accompanied a stock photo of tea or bamboo, according to a Stanford psychologist who responded to Wong’s tweet.

“Ouch. This is almost willfully terrible – from the stock photo tea/bamboo to the WTH does ‘wish you weren’t Asian’ mean?! It’s angering to read as it demonstrates lack of empathy & dedication to #AsianAmerican students,” Helen Hsu wrote. 

The resources page, which detailed the statistics of anti-Asian hate crime reports, also attached a flyer that read, “Although most individuals are not racist and these events are infrequent, these incidents can often be stressful and traumatic.” 

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To cope with racial discrimination, the Counseling and Mental Health services suggested that students “find pride in your community,” “seek out support” and “process your feelings.”

Other Twitter users have also expressed disapproval at the school’s choice of words.

“Did a hate crime write this,” journalist Wilfred Chan wrote.

“If they get it totally wrong here think about every daily anti-Asian aggression that happens all over this country. Jaw dropping,” added Lindsey Boylan who is currently running for Manhattan borough president.

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The school has removed the offensive messages and issued the following statement Giang T. Nguyen, MD, Executive Director, HUHS:

At CAMHS, we aim to support all of our students who are experiencing distress in their lives, and it’s a mission all of our staff strive to uphold in our work. We are deeply sorry that some recently-posted content on our website not only fell short of that mission, but caused more stress in our community. We had intended to post helpful resources for our Asian, Asian American, and Pacific Islander communities that we know are hurting in light of recent events around us, but what we ultimately posted included some insensitive and inappropriate content that we have now removed. We plan to engage more closely with members across our community to ensure that we can serve as a trusted, reliable resource for everyone at Harvard, and will work diligently to ensure that this never happens again. CAMHS, HUHS, and Harvard University remain fully committed to ensure that our mental health and wellness programming, services, and outreach are inclusive and free from bias. CAMHS will work with the Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging Office to develop community meetings to engage in further discussion. More information will be coming soon.

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