An East Bay private Chinese school program says its students, staff and parents were the victim of an online hate crime after their Chinese New Year celebration was hijacked Friday.
Things started out cheerful and upbeat during Bay Valley Chinese School’s virtual New Year celebration but things took a sudden and disturbing turn when “Zoom bombers” entered the gathering and exposed the elementary-aged kids to nudity and racial slurs.
“We got Zoom bombed and it was terrible,” said Vivien. “There were hate messages, racial slurs, racial slurs directed toward the Chinese American community.”
Vivien was watching with her 5-year-old daughter.
“There was a message that said ‘Ching Chong’ and that struck me as that’s wrong,” she said.
Vivien was responding to that offensive comment in the chat when things got even worse.
“Then the racial music started and we saw nudity,” she said.
Vivien says images of full frontal nudity flashed on the screen and she quickly shut the laptop.
“To be exposed to this at such a young age is painful. And it’s not something as a parent I would want my daughter to experience but she did,” said Vivien.
While the school is not part of the San Ramon Valley Unified School District, the school board president did attend, and in a statement she said, “I am very saddened and angry at the racist incident that happened at the virtual event celebrating the Chinese New Year in our community. This is one of too many incidents that have targeted Asians and Asian Americans, including the violent attacks in San Francisco, Oakland and throughout our country.”
“Shame on you, you can’t tear us down," said Vivien. "We are part of the community, this is uncalled for and you’re going to be found."
The school and parents have reported the incident to the police and believe they may have the evidence to identify the suspects.
And while the virtual celebration was delayed for a bit, the Year of the Ox program did resume, the school says, with added security measures.
Read the school's full statement below:
In response to the February 12, 2021 Zoom bombing of the online Chinese
New Year Celebration hosted by Bay Valley Chinese School (BVCS) at 6:45
pm, we are extremely regretful of this incident. BVCS has been serving the
Tri-Valley community for 19 years and has earned a good reputation in terms
of teaching Chinese Language and introducing Chinese customs and
traditions. We have always opened wide the school doors to welcome the
community to join our cultural events and activities in the past. Ever since
we move our classrooms to the Zoom platform due to the pandemic, we have
not experienced any unfortunate disruptions.
At this point, through witnesses and available Zoom recording, BVCS
identified some possible offenders, showing lewd images and verbalizing
racial slurs in the background. We are very frustrated about the
hard-to-dodge Cybercrime in virtual community events like this and
understand the anxiety that this incident might have caused our students and
guests. We extend our appreciation to the swift remedial measures
administered by the staff at the event.
Our mistress of ceremony was very professional and at the shortest possible
time logged off everybody. Our staff communicated with each other
immediately and added more co-hosts to tighten the screening of our
attendees when we reopened our meeting. Fortunately, the intruders were not
allowed admission at the second round, and the rest of the evening was
relatively peaceful and joyful.
After the event ended, BVCS’ staff had a brief discussion about the
Zoom-bombing incident. The day after the event, BVCS administrators
conducted a meeting after reviewing the recording and have added security
measures to protect our students in future online classes and virtual events.
We are taking this incident very seriously and our team is always mindful of
the health and safety of students, especially in a live Zoom class or event and
the pain that this Zoom-bombing incident might have caused. Graphic
images and racist language are hurtful and can cause negative impact. We
acknowledge the pain caused, and will continue to set online safety as our
highest priority by putting in place additional safeguards for future virtual
events. We urge our students and parents who have been negatively impacted
by this incident to reach out to the school.
The Lunar New Year Celebration is a prime time for friends and families to
rekindle in spirit and to promote cultural understanding and inclusivity.
BVCS wishes all an auspicious year to come in the Year of the Ox.