March 25, 2021
The CIES Board of Directors and the members it represents strongly condemn the recent anti-Asian attacks in the U.S., and the troubling rise in anti-Asian, Asian-American, and Pacific Islander (AAPI) violence, discrimination, xenophobia, and gendered racism. We express our deepest sympathies to the families of the most recent victims and we stand in solidarity with our colleagues, friends, students, and community members most affected by recent attacks on AAPI communities. Once again, we call upon the CIES community to stand with Asian and Asian-American & Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities in their fight against this hate, and to work together to confront racism and injustice in all its forms.
Recent attacks upon Asians and Asian-Americans in the United States reveal a disturbing historical pattern. Last week, eight people, six of whom were Asian women, were murdered by a 21 year-old white man who targeted “Asian” spas. These murders occurred after more than a year of escalating anti-Asian sentiments which placed Asians as the scapegoats to blame for COVID-19, and which contributed to violence against people of Asian descent that have included attacks on elderly women and men in broad daylight in large American cities. Since March 2020 at the height of the pandemic, there have been nearly 3,800 incidents of Asians being attacked. In the same timeframe, the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University reports a 150 percent overall increase in violence and harassment against Asians and Asian Americans, with women reporting incidents at twice the rate of men. While the geo-politicization of the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated anti-Asian racism, the roots of such racism must be traced to the United States’ history of exclusionary acts, imperialism, (mis)characterizations of Asian women, and incarceration of Asian Americans during World War II, as well as the labelling of Asians as ‘model minorities’, a myth which allows for anti-Asian racism and other oppression to be ignored. All of these are acts that advance policies and popular beliefs rendering Asian and Asian Americans as foreign others.
The rise of anti-Asian violence is chilling and cannot leave anyone indifferent. In fact, it serves as a sharp reminder of our duty to speak up and act against racism, and the overall dehumanization of Asian Americans in U.S. social and institutional structures and practices. As scholars and practitioners, we are aware that anti-Asian racism intersects with other forms of oppression. Many in our community engage in research that highlights the complex and enduring history of colonization and geopolitics. We must use our scholarship and our voices to educate about racism, sexism, and xenophobia; to teach about AAPI history and social justice; and to advocate for policies that support AAPI communities. In addition to leveraging our scholarship and practice, we can examine our teaching and citational practices, push our institutions to adopt new policies and practices that support and ensure the safety of AAPI faculty, staff and students, donate to relevant causes, sign petitions, and call on national and state level policy makers to push for bills and policies that will ensure AAPI communities are safe, valued, respected and humanized. More generally, we call upon all members to ensure that our individual actions uphold the values of anti-racism, inclusion, and global diversity, and work to eradicate anti-AAPI racism.
The CIES Board thanks the Ad Hoc Committee for Social and Policy Engagement, the East Asia Special Interest Group and the Study Abroad and International Students Special Interest Group for initiating and drafting this statement.
- Crisis hotline in Asian languages: 1-877-990-8585