“You Probably Wish You Weren’t Asian” Harvard Anti-Discrimination Page Criticized

The official website of Harvard University’s “Anti-Asian Racism Resource”, which was set up to provide mental health counseling resources to students, was criticized for writing the phrase “You may wish you were not Asian”. Pictured is the entrance to Harvard.

At a time when anti-Asian hate crimes are gaining attention across the country, Harvard University’s “Anti-Asian Racism Resource” website, set up to provide mental health counseling resources to students, says “You may wish that you weren’t Asian” (You may wish that you weren’t Asian). The website was criticized by the university, but it reads “You may wish that you weren’t Asian” (You may wish that you weren’t Asian), which triggered a backlash from Asian students.

Harvard University’s “Anti-Asian Racism Resources” page reads, “When you encounter racism, you may feel shame. You may wish you were not of Asian descent; but remember that your ancestors may have experienced similar or worse events and survived by recognizing the beauty and strength of their communities. Therefore, seek or create literature, art, film, performance, and music that positively manifests your community.”

Such a textual narrative sparked outrage among Asian students, with Matteo Wong, a college student at the university, tweeting March 30, “What? Please tell me who wrote ‘You probably wish you weren’t Asian’ on the Mental Health Resources page? Why do you think that would help? How could this possibly help me feel racial ‘pride’?” He added, “So, Harvard is telling me that discrimination happens, but don’t worry, your ancestors have met worse and they made it through.”

Helen Hsu, a psychologist at Stanford University, echoed Wang’s tweet, writing, “Wow, that’s almost scary. What the hell is ‘you probably wish you weren’t Asian’? It just screams anger to read and makes it clear that there is a lack of empathy for Asian students and no interest in helping.”

Journalist Wilfred Chan Wilfred Chan, a journalist, wrote, “This is written by a hate crime, right?”

Harvard University has removed the controversial content after the criticism. Giant Nguyen, director of Harvard University Health Services (HUHS), issued a statement saying, “We regret that some of the content recently posted on our website not only failed to provide support to students in distress, but also caused further stress to the community. …The university plans to interact more closely with community members to ensure that it is a trusted and reliable resource for all at Harvard and that this does not happen again.”

Among the many backlash against Harvard’s anti-racism counseling practices, New York State Assemblyman Yuh-Line Niou (D-N.Y.) noted, “Harvard, no, got it all wrong. You need to get serious about anti-racism and anti-oppression training for Asians. Please make a better parse. Take a good class.”