In Response To A Xenophobic Incident On Campus, These Chinese Students Want You To ‘Say My Name’

The viral Facebook video is an effort to break cultural stereotypes.

After multiple incidents in which the name tags of Asian American students were ripped off the doors of their dorm rooms at Columbia University, a group of Chinese students at the university posted a video in which they ask other students to "Say My Name" in an effort to turn a xenophobic incident into one of cultural understanding.

"Any discrimination, xenophobic behaviors or hate crimes come down to ignorance," Yan Huhe, one of the students involved in the video, told A Plus in an email. "This is why I think a vital step to start resolving these issues is to establish platforms for conversations and mutual understanding." 

In the two-and-a-half minute video, which has garnered over 360,000 views, international Chinese students introduce themselves and explain the meaning of their names, including the multiple layers of significance embedded in each one. For example, in the video, one of the students, Yan explains that his name literally means "to preach harmony," but it's also the first two characters of the city that he comes from in China. 

"My culture believes that names not only carry the blessings of families and ancestors, but also point us to our destiny in life as humans," writes Yan in the Columbia Daily Spectator, the student newspaper at the university. "You don't just pick one or two random characters and name yourself that — you inherit a name's weight from all the previous generations, and you strive to perfect yourself every step of your life to honor it."

Yan said the response to the video has been overwhelmingly positive. He's heard from middle teachers who have showed the film in their classes and mothers with children who were adopted from China and Vietnam. At Columbia, three undergraduate deans sent a campus-wide email that further addressed the incidents that sparked the creation of the video. 

"Given the increasingly xenophobic climate out there fostered by an administration that's sending all the wrong signals to the people, the more conversations and reflections like this, the better," said Yan. "This could sound a bit over-ambitious, but I do hope every person the video reaches will feel empowered to be proud of whatever heritages or identities that he/she/they carries."

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(H/T Buzzfeed)

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