By Bettie Sing Luke
Multicultural diversity trainer Seattle
A very disturbing anti-Asian incident was brought to my attention and verified by the LA Times in a March 5th article.
This offensive encounter occurred in Long Beach, Calif., where an Asian American couple, Tony Kao and his wife, and daughter, were subjected to an unprovoked verbal attack by a “European American” woman, Tarin Frances Olson. Video of this insulting and hostile action shows Olson telling a couple to “go back to your home country.” She does not recognize the Kao family members are indeed in their home country — the USA!
It is particularly disturbing to learn that this blatant bigoted and racist behavior came from a college professor and counselor at your institute of higher education. Olson’s behavior impacts the reputation of your learning institution.
In my years as a diversity trainer for educators, I observed a common behavior of whites. If they have had very limited experience and relationships with people of other cultures, they see people of color as “foreigners” who do not belong and harbor ill intent.
This is a dangerous perspective to bring into the classroom, as it influences what and how a topic is taught, level of support to students, and grading practices — while favoring white students. Olson’s beliefs are damaging to students.
Here is a quote from Olson to the media. “If you would like to have a full normal interview about the displacement of European Americans, then I gladly am available to enlighten the public.” This statement is clear evidence that Olson was not merely having a bad day. Instead, she holds a deep-seated fear and resentment for displacement by people of a different culture.
Fear and resentment was pervasive in government and society when 120,000 Japanese Americans in 1942 were forced into internment camps during WWII. Fear and resentment was pervasive with vigilante groups in California, called the “Sons of the Golden West,” during the 1880s when they beat, killed, and drove Chinese workers out of town.
Fear and resentment was pervasive when our national government and community politics enacted the 1882 Exclusion Laws against the Chinese coming to America — even though the Statue of Liberty had a different message. The outrageous fear and resentment demonstrated by Olson’s racist actions is not safe for students at Golden West College. Her position of power can be inappropriately used against students.
Olson’s views are along the lines of white supremacist thoughts, which is not healthy and should not be associated with your learning institution. Businesses have fired employees for blatantly racist behavior, so I am hoping Golden West College will do the right thing. Tarin Frances Olson should be fired.