Harvard University has apologized for telling their Asian students, “You may wish that you weren’t Asian” on its “Anti-Asian Racism Resources” page.
The Ivy League college, accused in the past of discriminating against Asians in its admissions policies, told Asian students they may not want to be of their race anymore after experiencing racism on its Counseling and Mental Health Services (CAMHS) website. “But remember that your ancestors likely went through similar or even worse incidents.”
“They survived by recognizing the beauty and strength of their community,” the page reportedly said. “So, seek out or create literature, art, films, shows, and music that highlight your community in a positive light.”
Harvard Crimson writer Matteo Wong was among the students and other observers who found the advisory and its stereotypically “orientalist” tea set and bamboo background photo outrageous.
Wong excoriated the university for their “strong mental health content.”
“And then some more strong mental health content from Harvard: ‘When you experience racism, you can feel angry but also want to minimize or deny your feelings [… followed by more explaining to me how I respond to racism and am wrong…],’ Wong wrote.
“‘… But remember that during the event, your priority was your safety, and you did what you thought was best at the moment. Try not to judge your reactions,’” he continued. “Good to know the template by which I and all AAPI people respond to racism, and how we can do better.”
“And then, ‘You need the time to heal from this trauma.’ Where’s the f—ing time Harvard, my (un)wellness days?” Wong added, noting that the page predates the deadly Atlanta spa shootings “by months.”
Harvard’s Anti-Asian Racism Resources web page was revised on Wednesday morning, deleting the photo and several paragraphs. A few hours later, CAMHS issued an apology saying that the aim of the office was to support all students “who are experiencing distress in their lives.”
“We are deeply sorry that some recently-posted content on our website not only fell short of that mission, but caused more stress in our community,” the website reads. “We had intended to post helpful resources for our Asian, Asian American, and Pacific Islander communities that we know are hurting in light of recent events around us, but what we ultimately posted included some insensitive and inappropriate content that we have now removed.”
“We plan to engage more closely with members across our community to ensure that we can serve as a trusted, reliable resource for everyone at Harvard, and will work diligently to ensure that this never happens again,” the school added.