On the 14th of February 2021, a Tiktok was posted by a player on the N.E.C. women’s soccer team which quickly became a hot topic of conversation among students. The video itself documented the student and her boyfriend sitting down to a restaurant-style Valentine’s Day meal, served to them by the student’s two teammates. The video would be nothing other than a heart-warming depiction of a young couple having a nice meal despite the constrictions of the COVID-19 pandemic…if it had not been for all the racist parts.
In the Tiktok, the poster’s two teammates can be seen wearing a bathrobe and a floral kimono, respectively, both with their hair in tight buns. At the very start of video, the girl in the bathrobe says to the camera “Welcome to Kung Pao Pow-Wow,” as if to welcome the viewer into their warped version of a Chinese food restaurant.
After the poster and her boyfriend are seated at the table, a handwritten menu is placed in front of them listing the food options. Although this menu can only be seen for a fraction of a second in the video it is clear when paused that it is written in a way that is meant to mimic the stereotypical Asian accent. The last line of the menu, written in bold highlighted letters reads as such:
“Tank yew, peas come back in 15 minutes for pork fried wice.”
As the video goes on we see the poster and her boyfriend indulging in their meal while also experiencing what the poster captioned as “dinner and a show.” The show in question is the two teammates engaging in what a more generous person might call a dance, but might more accurately be called a minstrel show. The two teammates, still clad in their bath-wear perform a series of out-of-sync movements one could venture to guess are very loosely inspired by Asian martial arts as well as the study of tai-chi.
Finally, after a painful fifty seconds, the video concludes with the poster and her beau eating a lovely dessert consisting of chocolate-covered strawberries, decorated to spell out the word “Love.”
To be clear, this video is not racist because the poster and her friends decided to enjoy some Chinese food and Valentine’s Day while documenting the experience. This video is racist because a group of white individuals thought it would be entertaining to construct a half-assed mockery of what they perceive a Chinese Restaurant to be like, and then to go further, two of these individuals decided to costume themselves in half-assed costumes and then make a mock of Chinese people and Chinese culture. If this video is any representation of the beliefs of these individuals, anyone with sense can guess that they believe Asian people are nothing more than bumbling idiots who wear silly outfits and serve fried rice.
This video posted is comparable to a number of other incidents that have occurred on college campuses compiled in this New York Times article, including the “Straight Outta Compton” black face party that was held at Georgia State in 2004, as well as more recent incidents, such as the group of students who decided to dress like gang members at the California Polytechnic University in 2018, and the student from the University of Arkansas who posted a selfie in black face to his Snapchat story with the caption “I hope this offends someone.”
It goes without saying that this video is hurtful, especially to the Asian American students who have to exist on campus with these individuals. It also goes without stating the harm a video like this can cause to the greater community, especially during this pandemic when Asian Americans already face a new wave COVID related racism.
Although at this point the video has been removed from Tiktok, any further statement about the video has yet to be made by school officials or the creators themselves.