NEW YORK (April 13, 2017) — Like many people around the world, the Committee of 100 has been shocked by the viral videos showing a United Airlines passenger, bloodied and being dragged off a recent flight. The incident has caused a furor on U.S. social media and an even greater uproar in China.
Without ascribing racial motivations to the incident, for many Chinese Americans, including immigrants, as well as Chinese persons everywhere, this situation has touched a raw and painful nerve. In a matter of days, the topic garnered more than 880 million views on Weibo, China’s equivalent of Twitter. As a Chinese American organization, C100 encourages greater understanding of Chinese perceptions underlying this phenomenon.
The scene of an Asian man being subjected to such physical force evokes in many Chinese a visceral reaction and prompts painful memories in Chinese and Chinese American history. Chinese people had to endure being bullied and oppressed for many years, from the days of imperialists in China to the exclusion and discrimination suffered by Chinese Americans.
While much progress has been made, many Chinese still encounter various degrees of humiliation and embarrassment due to language barriers, cultural misunderstandings, and discrimination. Their frustrations are real, even if not always voiced.
For many years, Chinese and Asian Americans have been stereotyped as polite and passive. The current worldwide outrage suggests that Chinese peoples have found their voice, and they are standing up to protest mistreatment.
The Committee of 100 extends its support and sympathy to the victim in this case. The CEO of United Airlines has apologized over this incident and committed to system-wide change.
Corporations, governments, businesses, and public institutions now operate in a world of global stakeholders. We would all do well to recognize the diversity of experiences of those we serve. Building bridges and mutual trust through cultural sensitivity, respect, and dialogue is more than a charitable ideal; it is a business, societal, and global imperative.
The Committee of 100 is a non-partisan leadership organization of prominent Chinese Americans in business, government, academia, and the arts. Since its founding in 1990, the Committee has been committed to a dual mission of promoting the full participation of Chinese Americans in all fields of American life, and encouraging constructive relations between the peoples of the United States and Greater China. www.committee100.org