If you don’t know the name Alexandra Wallace, I suggest that you head to YouTube and search for her. If you do, then you know why her name has been making headlines all across the country.
After she published her racist video rant against Asian-American students at UCLA, her words spread like a brushfire through the campus and eventually nationwide. Wallace is obviously ignorant and it’s unfortunate that her actions have sparked such controversy, but how we handled the situation as a society–from the institutional level to social media–is more telling than what was actually said. Wallace’s rant made her the target of angry students and a victim of the sensationalist nature of our media.
Her words ignited outrage from dorm rooms to newsrooms, and she was labeled racist and other descriptions not fit to print. While I don’t condone her words, thoughts, or her decision to publish them in a globally accessible medium, I regret the way the situation was handled by her fellow students, and how the media portrayed the issue.
Given the current state of our culture, sensationalism fueled sensationalism, giving “response videos” the limelight and pushing rational and tolerant responses aside. Wallace shouldn’t have been ostracized, but rather educated. Given the obvious lack of maturity with which she approached the video, the whole episode seems like a cry for attention, a poorly executed plan for her fifteen minutes of fame. If that was the case, she may be smarter than we think; maybe we did exactly what she wanted us to do. Whether Wallace wanted this attention or not, she got it.
UCLA officials opted not to punish Wallace, though they harshly condemned her actions. But they didn’t have to. We took care of that ourselves.