Student - January 23, 2014

Students accuse each other of racism

Nicolette Meerstadt

A post on the Facebook page ‘Wageningen Student Plaza’ sparked off a row between Dutch and Asian students.

Wageningen Student Plaza (WSP) is a group with more than 8000 members which is mainly used to sell stuff and make requests within the Wageningen student community. Student Dan Xu posted a message complaining that a package of his had been opened by someone at the Bornsesteeg. There were several responses in Chinese, after which a Dutch student posted a South Park clip about incomprehensible Chinese people. The word ‘racism’ was soon being bandied about and there were 350 comments.

Nonalaki Kudomo from Japan, who has been in Wageningen for six months, felt deeply offended by the film and the whole tone of the discussion. ‘When I see the comments mocking the Chinese accent, I think it is very disrespectful behaviour’, she emails. ‘In our culture, we never use jokes about a group of people and the comments had nothing to do about the topic in the first place.’ She responded with a few films about the Dutch (1 en 2).

Dutch student Hugo Hegeman does not take it all so seriously. He feels the discussion got totally out of hand. WSP is a group with members of many nationalities, so he feels it is a bit odd to start posting in Chinese. ‘Someone posted a funny South Park film to drop the hint that “I don’t understand a word” and this was seen as extremely racist by a tiny group of people.  You have to take sarcasm with a pinch of salt, and certainly must not take it personally, which is what happened here.’

Nonolaki does not agree at all. ‘I feel a strong intention of this "sarcasm”, which is discriminating. Well, I am not the only one. I received messages from some Dutch students to apologize about this and tell me to ignore what happened. I find it offensive they keep saying they are innocent and using Dutch humour as an excuse.’

Dan Xu, the student who posted the original message, does not understand how such a discussion could have blown up. ‘I felt very sad, upset, ungracious, and ashamed.’ He only wanted to warn others to be on the alert about their mail.

He is cross about the first video and he thought the tone of many comments was aggressive and sometimes even racist towards the Japanese, but then Nonolaki said a few nasty things about the Dutch too. Above all, he cannot understand why not a single Dutch student objected to the negative and insulting tone.

The message is still on Facebook but the row has blown over. Dan Xu only wants to remove his message when all those involved have offered an apology.

Re:actions 11

  • Romanian

    People from the Bible belt areas (Gelderland like Ede and Wageningen locals, but also some Utrecht like Veenendaal) are very rude indeed. I find people from Amsterdam and Noord-Brabant friendlier to foreigners. More multi-ethnic marriages and friendships there as well. Have you noticed how in Wageningen the expats stick together and sometimes with well-traveled Dutch people from the South or West of the Netherlands as well, while they are avoided by the locals like the plague? I'm still trying to recover after the abuse I experienced by locals in Gelderland.

    • Robin

      Romanian, you do realise how hypocritical you are right now? I'm from a Bible Belt village myself and quitte offended by this generalization. You're not a victim, you're the problem.

    • Romanian

      Due to my pale white skin White Middle Aged and Elderly People would always speak to me in Dutch assuming I'm Dutch and make funny gestures of dismissal when I said "I'm sorry I do not speak Dutch". So rude! Yet they avoid asking people of color or wearing Islamic veil even though they're born there and know perfect Dutch. I'm still trying to recover after the abuse I experienced by locals in Wageningen and Veenendaal, so White Dutch Protestant cliquey! People in Noord-Brabant are much more friendlier!

  • Giovani Roma

    Racism comes from an intolerance towards other cultures, The Dutch society is by far the most tolerant society. This is unfortunate situation,.

  • Marc G.

    zoooooow...ff in het nederlands antwoorden..kijken of er ook van andere landen net zulke gekken zijn.
    ik schaam me eigenlijk kapot voor dit soort volk! En al helemaal jammer dat ze zeggen dat dit bij de nederlandse cultuur hoort, terwijl ze helemaal niet de nederlandse "cultuur" vertegenwoordigen! Stelletje sukkels!!

    (for the people who can't read dutch: i will answer in dutch...let's check if there are the same kind of fools in other countries.
    i feel ashamed for this kind of people. And espacially when they say is it dutch culture, but they don't represent the dutch culture! Fools are they!!

  • Cóndor

    I do feel racist, even I am not an Asian.
    Make fun with your friends, don't post them in public you idiot!

  • Trzetrzelewska

    no manner and respect at all.
    Since when hurting people becomes fun?
    you Dutch students, well played.

  • Sander

    This just shows how dangerous it is to 'drop a hint' in intercultural discussions. Being from another culture implies a different frame of reference, so subleties and 'context' can easily get lost. Sad this happens even in such a diverse, intercultural and supposedly higher-education environment like Wageningen.

  • jason

    looks like the chinese, like the greek have long toes....

  • :((((

    Peter Miedema "Please don't bully her to much, she will, like is tradition commit suicide...
    17 January at 16:02 "

    Well guys, you were over the edge.
    I feel sympathy for Dan Xu, for that package, though nobody gave a shit.
    I feel sympathy for the Japaneses girl, such a poor girl, she must so love Wageningen, but I am afraid she will never hold that feel anymore. She deserves respect and apologizes.

    Keep making fun of it, you heartless Dutch guys, you make me sick! And you won't get more respect from other international students!

  • Stefan

    Racism should not even be brought up in this discussion. The only problem is that people from different countries have different flaws. No exceptions!

    Flaws are subjects of jokes. Some make carriers out of it, some try these jokes on facebook. We do it with our friends, no matter what place you come from. We usually relate to the "stupid" characteristic. Is that racist?

    I'm Romanian, almost everyone there is corrupt and steals. When you see me around Wageningen put your hand on your wallet and joke that it's still there. I will laugh about it. Many Asian people don't speak proper English and don't have a sense a humor. Now this is where it gets tricky. How do you make fun of these flaws when there is no way for them to realize that comedy is the only reason why you do it?

    So you can talk about stereotypes. Racism is something different. Look it up.

  • Grumpy cat

    although, those Dutch guys should make proper apologizes.
    And it was indeed, very wrong to post that video link on that post, and should not invite more naive friends add more colored here.Very wrong.
    Who started all those insult? Why blame the Japanese girl?????
    You guys need some self evaluation.
    And remember, we have a lot international students, watch out your voice.


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  • maria

    So let me ask you something. Is saying "miaw" or "ni hao" because if my eyes is something racist or just to make fun?

    So if I said "bule" or "bekantan" because of your nose. Is it racist or just to make fun?

    I am Indonesian chinese btw.

  • Johan Veldhuis

    I think both sides have to take lessons here:
    The chinese that they should not react oversensitive to this thing. Calling something racist is a very serious accusation and you should give it a really good thought before using these words. Also saying: "I will not remove the post on facebook till everyone has offered their excuse", clearly is an oversensitive reaction, which people will not take seriously. At the same time dutch people should understand chinese people are quickly offended and should pay some attention to the emotions. Not try to make things worse.

  • Johan Veldhuis

    I am surprised by the overly sensitive reactions, such as: "i will not remove the post until everyone has offered their apology". I mean, this shows no self-reflection at all. I mean is there no sense of humour, is not asked: am I reacting a bit oversensitive to this?

  • Peeeeet

    Annnnd another stage to bash.

    Dumb humor yes, but girl is bashing hem Guus top...

  • Oscart

    Why some people is surprised about the dutch racism? or even the european racism? the Japanese girl is right, but we must to deal with that.

  • Nagasaki

    The difference is they came to the Netherlands, so they should adapt. Not the other way around. If u dont its oke, but dont start crying then when people make a harmless comment about it and accept it, like the dutch do.

  • Jan Smit

    It's just a public discussion...

    The 2 people that are offended are really naive and made they were part of letting the ridiculous discussion continue all along.

    Dan Xu should have ended this post when he saw that it went wrong.
    Something with being a man and not a crybaby.

  • A$AP T

    Sarcastic Racism can, and is often, used as an excuse to avoid any consequences of the use of conventional racism because of sarcastic racism widely being considered self-derogatory. This may even lead to sympathy for the user. This usually fails, however, because everybody fucking knows the difference between insulting oneself and insulting another just as they can tell piss from shit unless they're a complete fucking downer.

  • batman

    "dus het is raar als mensen meteen overgaan op het Chinees", i can't say how many dutch posts are there every day. we also see other international students using their own language there. it's our own choice, should not be bothered.

    yeah, you think the video is funny, but it was very inappropriate on that post. and everybody deserves respect.