If you make fun of Asians in the library, you’re basically a racist

There’s more to them than sleeping in public

It all kicks off with Callum – Callum, bless him, doesn’t realise doing this is fairly poor form – sending a picture of someone with their face planted firmly into a desk, arms strewn down by their side, laptop under their feet, looking for all the world like they’ve died from a big poisoning or something.

Someone else piles in with a video you’d all already aired on snapchat last week, of a group of boys talking and playing music out loud and says something indignant like – mate, I’m trying to write my essay in this, the only non-quiet section of the library, this isn’t a pub – and it’s all getting a bit much, all this skirting around the subject, but thankfully someone comes out and says it directly.


It’ll be something like “Why don’t Asians know how to use a library properly haha?” or like “Not to be racist but [insert unsavoury racist epithet]”.

I really don’t understand why this is acceptable in 2016.

At every university, in every part of the country, international students from Asia make up a significant part of the student body, and yet they are othered in a way that no other group of students are.

Imagine your mate whatsapping you a picture of some girls taking a quick mid-revision nap at a desk, and being like “I hate how all women do this, they’re so weird”.

Or if there was a white guy with some Einaudi spilling out his earphones, would you get as annoyed as when you can very, very nearly hear an entire decibel of the game the Asian dude next to you is playing?

There’s a lot of historical and cultural reasons why making jokes towards Asians is still seen as a valid point of humour to a lot of people where making jokes about black people is seen as unacceptable but it always boils down to this – you’re being racist.

We all know, educated and compassionate young people as we are, that racism in our culture today isn’t necessarily about brutality anymore, it’s simply a fact of multiculturalism; there will always be anxiety when two disparate cultures are pushed together suddenly.

And it’s not like you’d actually say it to their face, is it?

Except, the similarities between things said in private conversations between friends and what is said in pieces of hate speech like this are fairly striking:

By texting pictures, laughing at signs explaining parts of culture you’ve never consider as being variable, giggling behind the back of the guy with three empty cans of Red Bull stacked loud and proud on his desk in front, you’re not directly making that individual person’s life worse, but you are distancing them from the university community as a whole.

You can talk about “moving in packs”, but why do you think that is? You – by which I mean you, your friends, everyone who has ever laughed at an ‘Asian in the library’ Yak – are slagging them off for not learning every little rule you’ve had drilled into you since you were a child, and then you attack them for being withdrawn?

You sneer down your nose at UKIP voters telling migrants to learn the language, yet you do the same things to members of your own community.