The Facebook: Just a Joke?

“A white guy, a black guy, and an Asian guy are walking down the street…” What follows almost is sure to be un-PC, but funny… right? Maybe not. Sure, you may laugh, but we laugh for a number of reasons: you might be amused, maybe you’re uncomfortable, or you just feel like you’re supposed to laugh. Either way, many students aren’t altogether sure it really is a joke.

Enter Facebook: an all encompassing element of life at IU. Certain individuals have decided to bring the non-stop laughs of racial jokes to this forum by creating groups like “We Hate Asian Drivers,” “Asian Girls have Sideways Vaginas,” and “Asian Girls are Devious.” Hilarity ensues–as does the outrage.

Many are not convinced that these Facebook groups and racial jokes in general are such a serious issue. To them, these things are just as simple as a joke: a meaningless string of words which have no lasting effect. Everyone knows it’s just fooling around and people are entitled to say what they want.

However, six student groups in conjunction with the Teachable Moments Committee from the Commission on Multicultural Understanding have united in their distress over the situation. They cite statements such as “they can’t drive, period” and “they’re lucky they are allowed to drive–they should be building railroads” as the most inflammatory and distressing.

But the coalition finds the portrait of Asians which is projected through these groups equally as outrageous. According to these Facebook groups, Asians are one homogenous entity, be it inept drivers, devious manipulators, exotic conquests, or mathematical savants. This view in turn leads to misunderstanding, prejudice, discrimination, and, ultimately, racism.

In response, the coalition has contacted the creators and members of the groups, outlining their position and requesting the groups be removed. To date, the “Asian Drivers” group has disbanded, for reasons unknown, and the “Sideways” group has seen a 50% drop in membership as well as assurances from the creator that the group will be similarly dissolved.

Recognizing that focusing on the Facebook would lose sight of the overarching problem, that is, issues of stereotypes and everyday racism, the coalition has organized a diversity education program to speak specifically to those issues. The program is scheduled for Thursday, November 3rd at 6:30 PM in Ballantine Hall Room 103. The program will focus on informing participants of both sides of the issue and engaging them in activities to highlight the significance of stereotypes.

For more information, check out our Facebook Casual Racism site.

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