Is UBC “too Asian”? Let’s sing and find out.

Race is often a delicate subject, so when Macleans magazine published an article asking if some Canadian universities (including the one I work for) might be “Too Asian?”, the controversy that resulted was somewhat predictable. What was less predictable was the form some of the response took on. Tetsuro Shigematsu writes a great account:

When Dr. Ray Hsu threw down the gauntlet before his Asian Canadian writing class, there was a collective desire among his diverse students (and I was one of them) to do just that: respond. And to do so as a group.

…There wasn’t the time, nor were we inclined, to ask for permission to shoot on campus. Instead, we snuck into places like the Chan Center and shot footage until we were asked to leave, and then we continued to shoot. Dr. Ray Hsu became an uncanny vision of Michael Jackson standing in front of a whale skeleton at UBC’s Biodiversity Museum. We also recruited offspring.

Dr. Henry Yu referred to this clip as “a new kind of politics.” Dr. Yu had the insight to recognize that in the age of the Daily Show and the Colbert Report, angry students carrying signs would not be effective. The audience was online, so that’s where the students would need to fight the fight.

UBC’s Way Too Asian, Macleans

Hard not to love the way these students reframe the debate on their own terms. And it’s freakin’ hilarious.

I’ve watched a number of creative YouTube responses to the Macleans piece, and was also struck by this less elaborate but undeniably persuasive rebuttal from Tina Whoo, another UBC student:

7 thoughts on “Is UBC “too Asian”? Let’s sing and find out.

  1. I find it fascinating that back East this ostensibly caused quite a debate: I don’t know anyone out here (in BC, not UBC per sé) whose reaction wasn’t anything but WTF?

    Still can’t bear that song though. But I gues Tears Are Not Enough or Do They Know It’s Xmas? wouldn’t quite’ve worked…

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