4:15pm

Thu March 24, 2011
Race

A Racial Quarrel Inspires An Internet Balladeer

It's the rant that spawned a thousand response videos.

In a YouTube video blog posted earlier this month, UCLA student Alexandra Wallace unloaded a litany of complaints about, as she put it, "these hordes of Asian people that UCLA accepts into our school every year." Wallace said she's especially offended by Asian students who talk on their cellphones in the library while she's trying to study.

That video quickly went viral — and, just as quickly, Wallace took it down. Later, she sent an apology to the campus newspaper, saying she had received death threats and was withdrawing from UCLA.

The videos created in response run the gamut — some bigoted, some earnest, some funny. But one of them stuck out: a musical retort with a catchy chorus, created by 23-year-old actor and musician Jimmy Wong.

Wong's response video, "Ching Chong! Asians in the Library Song," only took him about 10 hours to write, record and edit — but he says he waited a few days before starting. As he tells All Things Considered host Melissa Block, the song benefited from his patience.

"I was pretty offended at first, but then I realized that this is just someone going on a rant — we've all done it before," Wong says. "My visceral reaction to the video would not have been as appropriate."

"Appropriate" is how he says he hopes the final product turned out. The tone of the song, despite a few sharper jabs about Wallace's "pounds of makeup" and "big brain," is light and funny, which Wong says suited the situation best.

"Sending death threats to someone isn't an eye for an eye. [Wallace] never openly said, 'We should get rid of you,' " Wong says. "She complained about things and she was clearly racist, but she never really was hostile."

Wong says he hasn't heard from Wallace but is still holding out hope for a phone call — mainly to say there are no hard feelings.

"I would like to tell her that I totally forgive her," Wong says. "I would love to meet for coffee and give her a big hug." Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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