In a terrible faux pas, Palo Alto resident Rob Malon mistook an ethnically Chinese man for a member of the Daur ethnic group found predominantly in Inner Mongolia. The victim of Malon’s ignorance, Stanford Junior Victor Chu, considers the misstep an “egregious offense,” saying, “Honestly, it’s 2014, people can’t get away with this kind of racial insensitivity anymore. My mother grew up in a small Chinese town near Beijing, and my father is from Hong Kong. I’m a Canadian citizen. Someone needs to explain to that man that we live in a complex, international society now. People don’t fit into his narrow racial stereotypes.”

Chu went on to explain that he learned Mandarin from his mother, but he has never even heard the traditional Daur language. “Wake up, people,” urged Chu. “Asia is a rich and diverse continent. We’re not all Daur who play Baikou and celebrate the Spring Festival, A Nie Jie. Asia is a lot bigger than central Mongolia.”

Malon’s honest mistake may be symptomatic, Chu insists, of an underlying passive racist tendency towards the dismissal or oversimplification of Asian culture. “Does he think we all look the same or something?” Chu asks angrily. “Men like him need to learn a little something about a culture before they start trying to label people from other parts of the world.”

Malon was reluctant to comment, calling the whole experience “immensely embarrassing” and “a real eye-opener.”

“I never thought of myself as racist in any way,” Malon confided. “But just yesterday I found myself referring to a Chipotle employee as half Yucatec and half Kekchi, without any knowledge of her background beyond the traditional Yucatecan headband and Kekchi-style earrings she was wearing. I need to be more sensitive.”

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