A Red Guard rebels against her teacher (1966)

Rae Yang was a young girl who joined the Red Guards at the onset of the Cultural Revolution. She wrote of her experiences in the 1997 memoir Spider Eaters:

“When the Cultural Revolution broke out in late May 1966, I felt like the legendary monkey Sun Wukong, freed from the dungeon that had held him under a huge mountain for 500 years. It was Chairman Mao who set us free by allowing us to rebel against authorities.

As a student, the first authority I wanted to rebel against was Teacher Lin, our homeroom teacher. A big part of her duty was to make sure that we behaved and thought correctly. Now the time had come for the underdogs to speak up, to seek justice! Immediately I took up a brush pen, dipped it in black ink and wrote a long dazibao [big character poster]. Using some of the rhetorical devices Teacher Lin had taught us, I accused her of lacking proletarian feeling toward her students, of treating them as her enemies, of being high handed and of suppressing different opinions. My classmates supported me by signing their names to it.

Next, we took the dazibao to Teacher Lin’s home nearby and pasted it on the wall of her bedroom for her to read carefully day and night. This, of course, was not personal revenge. It was answering Chairman Mao’s call to combat the revisionist educational line.

Within a few days, dazibao written by students, teachers, administrators, workers, and librarians were popping up everywhere like bamboo shoots after a spring rain. Secrets dark and dirty were exposed. Every day we made shocking discoveries. The sacred halo around the teachers’ heads that dated back 2,500 years to the time of Confucius disappeared. Now teachers must learn a few things from their students. Parents would be taught by their kids instead of vice versa, as Chairman Mao pointed out. Government officials would have to wash their ears to listen to the ordinary people.”