Chinese Students’ Association at Cal Poly SLO Zoombombed by Racists

A number of unidentified individuals allegedly crashed a Zoom meeting of the California Polytechnic State University’s Chinese Students’ Association (CSA) club and hurled racial slurs.

The group encountered racist individuals during their weekly CSA Zoom meeting on Tuesday night, according to a statement posted on the CSA’s official Facebook group.

Screenshot via Chinese Students’ Association – Cal Poly SLO

“Shocked, angry, and sad do not even come close to how we feel,” the statement reads. “We are sorry to our general members who had to endure these hateful words, especially when we are living in an era where xenophobia is still rampant in our society.”

Board member Thomas Tang was able to capture footage of the Zoombombers who yelled racial slurs such as “chinks” and “ching chong,” drew swastikas and set inappropriate videos as virtual backgrounds.

 

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I’ll preface this with the fact that I am in no position to speak on the behalf of the club that I take the pleasure in serving. All of my writing is my personal opinion and these are my feelings about the actions that happened last night. I have had the “luxury” of only facing subtle racism throughout my life. It’s the backhanded compliments, the reinforcement of negative stereotypes, the understated jeering about my ability because of my ethnicity, the demasculinization of Asian men in the media, etc. It feels harder to be taken seriously because I am Asian. However, as an Asian American living during the COVID-19 pandemic, I am now grappling with blatant racism for the first time in my life. Although what I bare witnessed was horrid, the silver lining of this situation has helped me to evolve from a viewpoint of sympathy to empathy for the other people of color I know. It is not a battle of POC verses everyone else as the media may portray, but rather a struggle between love versus hatred. Bigotry likes assumptions, they hold hands. To anyone who thinks the footage was “not that bad ”, or perpetuates the notion that things could always be worse, I hope you recognize that not condemning these actions align you with the side of the perpetrators. What someone else may see as an “edgy joke”, is in my eyes harmful and malicious intent towards the community I belong to. Equal treatment should not be seen as crumbs given in increments of decades, but instead as a unalienable right. Lastly, I want to leave a quote from Hasan Minhaj’s Homecoming King, that accurately summarizes the feeling of being a first generation child of immigrant parents during these times: “My dad’s from that generation where he feels like if you come to this country, you pay the American dream tax. You endure racism, and if it doesn’t cost you your life, pay it. There you go, Uncle Sam. But for me, I was born here. So I actually have the audacity of equality. I’m like, “I’m in Honors Gov, I have it right here. Life, liberty, pursuit of happiness. All men created equal.” It says it right here, I’m equal. I’m equal. I don’t deserve this.”

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Board member Kristy Leung shared her thoughts on the incident on Instagram because she says it continues to “demoralize and degrade Asian Americans in the US.”

“I’m ashamed to live in a country where China is antagonized as a scapegoat to blame for the pandemic and Asian Americans are beaten on the streets,” she wrote.

 

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I am a board member for Chinese Students’ Association, a social cultural club that celebrates Chinese culture at Cal Poly SLO. Last night, our weekly meeting was zoom-bombed by strangers who repeated racial slurs (“chinks,” “ching chong,” etc.), drew buddhist swastikas, and set inappropriate videos as virtual backgrounds. I include these details because they are uncomfortable examples of racism that continue to demoralize and degrade Asian Americans in the US. I share this because I’m frustrated. I wake up in the morning to hear the government proclaim the United States has “prevailed” against the “Chinese virus.” I open social media and see tweets from people who are not even Asian American claiming that “Asian Americans are angry at China for the spread of the virus.” I watch shows and adaptations that whitewash Asian characters and, if not, project demoralizing stereotypes that influence malicious behavior against Asian Americans in schools and workplaces. I’m ashamed to live in a country where China is antagonized as a scapegoat to blame for the pandemic and Asian Americans are beaten on the streets—only to hop onto social media and see a non-Asian celebrity receive praise for dressing up with “aesthetic” “oriental” trends. Just this past week, the cry #runwithmaud protested the shooting of an innocent black man who did nothing but go for a jog. Though (most!) of the men who were involved in his murder were arrested, the fact is that even after arrest, these men will receive little punishment, if any, and ride on the same white privilege that allows a president to promote xenophobic behavior that generalizes, objectifies, and demoralizes. We will never escape this problem because our system is structured to protect this privilege. Even as I reflect on my own education, what I have been taught fails to encompass the multi-faceted histories and cultures of people of color and instead teaches immigrant history from a white imperialist perspective that implies people of color are “other” or separate from American. I say this not to condemn but to express that this is something that needs to change. As a designer and a writer, I work in media and (1/2)

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Board member Elaine Cheng says she was aware of Zoombombings but never thought it would happen during her organization’s meetings. She claims the strangers, who somehow gained host status, also hurled racist, xenophobic, homophobic slurs at her group, including “Go back to where you came from” and “If you’re not racist, you’re a f****t.”

“As a Chinese American, I am afraid to speak my first language (Mandarin) in public in fear that I may be targeted for my race, yet I am fetishized to be someone’s ‘exotic, small, submissive’ oriental dream girl,” Cheng wrote in a post shared on her Twitter page. “I see physical hate crimes targeted towards those who look like me.”

Each board member had one unifying statement showing solidarity for other people of color following the brutal killings of Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor, whose lives were cut short due to hate crime.

“We must show unity for all because equal treatment is sadly not given when you are a person of color in this nation, but instead hard fought,” Tang said.

CSA also reminded other cultural groups to be more vigilant of their security when organizing Zoom meetings.

CSA is now working on how they can identify those who crashed their meeting.

“If anyone has any information, please let us know,” the group said. “Even if we do not identify them, know that we as a board condemn them for this behavior. We stand with our fellow students of color, and know that we are here to support you. This is the time for us as a community to unite. We will get through this together.”

 

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Dear Chinese Students’ Association members, students of color, Cal Poly staff and students, and our community: Last night, our weekly CSA zoom meeting was interrupted by unidentified individuals who hurled racist slurs and symbols at our club members. Shocked, angry, and sad do not even come close to how we feel. We are sorry to our general members who had to endure these hateful words, especially when we are living in an era where xenophobia is still rampant in our society. As board members, we will make sure to increase security for our meetings so events like this do not happen again. This goes out to our fellow cultural clubs as well — we never expected our meetings to ever be zoom bombed but yesterday proved otherwise. Please take measures to increase security for your meetings; we hope that your clubs will never have to go through something like this. We are also working to identify the individuals who interrupted and harassed our club meeting. If anyone has any information, please let us know. Even if we do not identify them, know that we as a board condemn them for this behavior. We stand with our fellow students of color, and know that we are here to support you. This is the time for us as a community to unite. We will get through this together. -CSA Board ❤️

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Feature Image Screenshot via Cal Poly CSA

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