UMN Sociology's Statement of Condemnation, Care, Solidarity, and Commitment
We, the undersigned faculty of the Department of Sociology at the University of Minnesota, write this statement to unequivocally condemn and to mourn the specter of racial violence in this country, with emphasis on the murders of the eight people - mostly Asian and Asian American women - killed in Atlanta on March 16. We recognize these attacks to be the latest in a spate of acts of racial terrorism directed at Asians and Asian Americans in the U.S. over the course of the last year.
Reports have shown that acts of violence targeting people of Asian descent rose dramatically in America’s largest cities in the last year, with close to 4,000 anti-Asian incidents recently reported. Yet anti-Asian rhetoric, policies, and acts of violence in the U.S. date back at least to the 1800s. Nativist propaganda fueled the infamous Chinese exclusion act of the late 19th century and the Executive Order to incarcerate Japanese Americans during WWII. The latest iteration of a vile campaign to smear and scapegoat Asian Americans surfaced in the wake of the COVID pandemic, with the Trump administration using the coronavirus as a sinophobic insult. Hate-filled incitement is inescapably followed by harassment and acts of terror.
A disproportionate number of these horrendous incidents - nearly 70% of those reported - have been against women. The intersectional nature of anti-Asian targeting is linked to the historical and contemporary fetishization and racialization of Asian and other migrant women in the low-wage workforce. The devaluing of Asian lives and the overt valorization of whiteness has been showcased in reporting on the Atlanta massacre seeking to generate empathy for the murderer while dehumanizing and objectifying those that he killed.
Many victims of the attacks in the past year have also been elders. The media has been filled as of late with reports of Asian and Asian Americans over the age of 65 being pushed, beaten, stabbed, spit upon, and set on fire. Though we are skeptical of calls for greater law enforcement in our cities, we believe that all communities must stand forcefully against the repugnant targeting of older people.
One important step in addressing the rash of racial violence is to strengthen hate crime laws across the U.S., such as HF 1691, which is currently being debated in Minnesota. Individuals wanting to help can also support Asian and Asian American small businesses, and donate to community and political organizations. Solidarity is crucial at this time, and we stand in support of organizations such as the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum and the Asian Minnesota Alliance for Justice.
There are many other excellent resources available as well, such as the University of Minnesota Immigration History Research Center’s Immigrants in COVID America project; the statement by Red Canary Song, a transnational grassroots collective of Asian & Migrant sex workers; Hollaback’s Bystander Intervention Guide; the websites of Stop AAPI Hate and Asian Americans Advancing Justice; the Museum of Chinese in America’s video “Remember. Record. Respect: History of Anti-AAPI Violence and Discrimination;” and this reading list on Black and Asian-American feminist solidarities.
We also believe that it is crucial at this time to listen to and to amplify the voices of Asian and Asian American colleagues, friends, activists, and scholars; such as UMN Historian Erika Lee who powerfully testified before the House Judiciary Committee on March 18.
MOST IMPORTANTLY, in this statement, we wish to express our support of, and deep concern and CARE for our Asian and Asian American students and faculty and their families and communities. Many of our undergraduate majors are Asian American and Asian international students, and this is for us a great source of strength, diversity, and excellence. We understand that many of our students at this time are upset, terrified, terrorized, and angry. We want to let you know that we SEE you and we HEAR you. We pledge to do more to address the underrepresentation of Asian American scholars, histories, and experiences in our classes and to work harder to address the invisibilization of Asian American students in our department, our campus, and our wider society. We stand in SOLIDARITY with you, and against all manifestations of racial violence and white supremacy in our nation. And we commit to continue to work towards intentional and sustained anti-racism in UMN Sociology.
Elizabeth Heger Boyle
Claire Kamp Dush