Following the publication of Tower Volume 76, Issue 2 on Thursday, Nov. 21, a number of members of the Masters community expressed concern with an image on the front page that depicted the flag of the People’s Republic of China with the logo of TikTok, a social media platform, in the upper left hand corner of the flag.
On Friday, Nov. 22, the Tower editorial board and the illustrator of the image met with a group of students to further listen to their concerns and discuss the issue.
As an editorial staff, we are in the position of making decisions about content every day. We use our best judgment to move forward in both a sensitive and timely fashion. Sometimes, however, we as humans beings fail to anticipate the impact of the words and images we choose to use and this seems to be one of those instances. It was never our intent for the image to be disrespectful or hurtful, and we are sorry that members of the Masters Community, hailing from The People’s Republic of China, felt disrespected.
We appreciate the response of our Chinese readership and have become much more aware of the sanctity the image of the Chinese flag holds for its citizens. As we move forward, we commit to being more sensitive to depictions of the Chinese flag in particular and the flags of other nations in general. The online version of this issue will appear without the graphic of the Chinese flag.
In response to the image, the following Letter to the Editor has been written by a group of students:
Dear Members of the Masters Community,
On November 21st, Tower,the award-winning newspaper of The Masters School, published a front-page article on the recent controversies around the Chinese government’s regulation on TikTok. To support the story, Tower also included an altered depiction of the Chinese National Flag. (Please note that we are only discussing the illustration that comes with the article instead of the entire article).
We, as a group of international students at the Masters School, felt strongly offended by the improper depiction of the Chinese national flag. Specifically, we thought that the members of the Tower community failed to consider the potential offense to the Chinese community when finding an illustration to support the article. Although it is appropriate to depict their own alteration of the Chinese flag, we still found the drawing disturbing and disrespectful. As we all know, for every nation in the world, a national flag symbolizes its pride and culture — people that have never met before can feel unity towards one another knowing that they’re part of the same country and fly the same flag. For students who grew up in China, the Chinese flag has always been and will always be an integral part of their culture and values. However, this picture on the front page of the newspaper totally desecrates the flag and attacks the honor and dignity of the Chinese students at Masters. According to the chapter “Community Standards: Respect for Others” in the Upper School Family Handbook, the use of the hurtful image is considered to be discriminatory and bias-based, which “violate the Code of Community Standards and have no place within the Masters community.”
After openly sharing our opinion with the community via different platforms, many of us were disappointed to hear some claims, such as “we have the freedom to change the Chinese flag for journalism use,” making us feeling under attack by fellow students in the Masters’ community. While we totally appreciate Tower’s invaluable contribution to the community, and we understand that every single member has all the rights to voice their opinions, it is unfitting for them to place the image within this context.
Throughout the years we spent at Masters, it has always been a place that welcomes and celebrates students from all different kinds of backgrounds. We are beyond honored to be a part of this community that understands the uniqueness of each individual, allowing all of our perspectives and opinions to be valued and our needs to be appreciated. Nevertheless, we firmly believe that Tower members should be more aware of the message that their articles and moreover, the illustrations imply.
Finally, we expect that our opinion in this letter will be thoughtfully considered. We sincerely hope that Tower could withdraw the image and apologize for the offense that this illustrate creates.
Yijin (Carr) Li, Junrong (Karen) Li, Ru (Amy) Meng, Noon (Stellar) Son, Lantao (Victor) Li, Jingxuan (Jesse) Xu, Li (Carey) Ji, Yijie (Jerry) Liang, Jiaxi (Jessie) Liu, Yun (Lily) Liu, Hao (August) Liu, Yingzhi (Allen) Ning, Xinyi (Sarah) Wu, Yingge (Cici) Wang, Haoqing (Sunny) Shi, Wennan (Avivi) Li, Luqi (Luke) Zhu, Wei BoXi, Mingguangyi (Frank) Yang, JunHe (Jackie) Yao