The issue of racial violence in our country’s biggest city is contentious, and it has been brought to light recently due to a number of attacks against people of Asian ethnicity in the city. This culminated in the publication of a post by a student on the Overheard @ University of Auckland Facebook page, which stated ‘if you see a pack of young Maori/Polynesian males, be prepared to sprint,’ addressing them as the perpetrators of the attacks. The post, which has since been deleted, is seen by many to be a case of racial profiling.
The post also made the comment that although it is ‘not politically correct to profile’, it was important to mention the issue because ‘political correctness is not worth brain damage or dying for’. Still, the post brought on much negative feedback, with some post comments stating they were ‘sweeping generalisations…out of ignorance and anger’.
This post is the result of discussions around the attacks in the city, after six Asian students were seriously hurt in the last two weeks. It has brought important questions to the attention of universities all around the country. In particular, what counts as an unacceptable post on an ‘Overheard’ page? A recent post was made on the Overhead @ Auckland University page regarding the acceptable standard of posts and some have commented that the page has now become overly politically correct.
But of course, the issue is more complicated than just a Facebook post because there is more than one form of racial profiling prevalent here. It’s only one of the concerns in an entanglement of racial issues Auckland has to tackle with. There are at least two forms of profiling in this case alone: attackers are specifically targeting Asians and general society seem to assume that these attackers are all, or mostly of Polynesian descent. The core of the issue lies with the problems that brought on the Facebook post in the first place. On change.org, Asian students have set up a petition entitled ‘A Safer New Zealand for International Students’ which says ‘we came to New Zealand because of its good reputation of being peaceful and friendly; our parents trust this country to provide the best education possible, both in academia and consummating our personalities.’ New Zealand, we need to do our best to uphold this reputation, and not see our ‘safe’ country as an illusion, we should realize it’s not that simple and must do our best to better it.