Kevin Shi, 14, from Palo Alto High School in Palo Alto, Calif., chose an Opinion piece by columnist Nicholas Kristof headlined “One Woman’s Journey Through Chinese Atrocities” and wrote:
During the last few months of this school year, my history teacher told my class the story of World War II. It was at the same time fascinating and terrible. No part touched me more than the horror of the Holocaust. My teacher compared it to the current oppression of Uyghur Muslims in my birth country of China, which the United States has declared a genocide. I was initially hesitant to use this label because my understanding of genocide was defined by mass killings, as in the Holocaust.
My perspective changed once I read an article detailing the experiences of a Uyghur woman. While “Nancy” is safe, her relatives have been imprisoned, extorted, beaten to paralysis. One has even died. This is all part of a campaign by the Chinese government to “end the dominance of the Uyghur.” The Uyghur genocide is eerily similar to the early phases of the Holocaust. This helped me recognize that genocide should really be seen as a process, not just a tragic end.
My new understanding led me to re-evaluate what I’ve been taught about American history. The American government’s treatment of Indigenous peoples seemed the same in intent, if not in method, as China’s treatment of the Uyghurs. Yet when it was mentioned in school, teachers seemed to paint it in a positive light, saying that it was necessary for the formation of the United States. I wonder if the Uyghur genocide wouldn’t be portrayed in much the same way to a student in China.
In alphabetical order by the writer’s first name.
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