Earlier this week, a statement endorsed by the Asian American Alliance, Edmonia Lewis Center, Vietnamese Student Association, As I Am and the Japanese Student Association condemned Solarity for having the theme of its spring event be Toxicity. According to the statement, Toxicity glorifies human-made disasters like Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Chernobyl and Fukushima, among a list of others. They also complained that “White Culture is TOXICITY,” as if to pretend that the title of an undergrad event is indicative of a sickness specific to a single race. Their complaints are ridiculous and inappropriate.
Clearly, the title Toxicity is referring to the grungy, disorienting nature of their event which, like all Solarity events, is intended to be an inclusive night of music, culture and dance. It is wrong for these student organizations to stand behind a deliberately twisted interpretation of a theme and use a loose association with real suffering to throw around racially bigoted statements. I find it very difficult to imagine Chernobyl victims being mortified by a dance featuring neon painted oil drums, hip-hop and ballet.
Using word association is an inappropriate standard for determining what is actually offensive. I could just as easily find offense in the name “Asian American Alliance” because “Alliance” makes me think of the allyship between Germany and Japan, which resulted in genocide, war crimes, mass rape and so on.
Of course, that’s ridiculous. There is nothing offensive about AAA’s name. The only thing that is offensive would be to take words out of context and use the suffering of millions of people to make selfish and racist comments.
If you hate Solarity, fine. But don’t fashion your pedestal from a pile of real victims.