I hope that those of you who celebrate lunar new year passed a peaceful and safe holiday. I’m writing to you today to address the recent spate of anti-Asian violence, particularly targeting our elders, across the country. In the last year, anti-Asian hate crimes have exploded in number—and those are only the reported ones, while crimes against our community often go unreported due to distrust or language barriers. It is appalling to watch these videos and hear our community’s experiences of hostility and violence.
Our website now features a resource page including portals for reporting anti-Asian hate crime/bias and student-recommended Asian American mental health-focused organizations. We will continue to work on adding more and different types of resources. The AAC will host a student-designed open forum for our campus community to come together to talk through our experiences and fears on February 23 (go.unc.edu/AACforum) In addition, our community storytelling workshop on Feb. 25 (go.unc.edu/storycircle) and a workshop with Prof. Nitasha Sharma in March on antiracism and anti-Blackness will offer opportunities for us to come together to tell our stories and build our cross-racial solidarity. Remember that our doors are open to all those who want to learn more about and support the Asian American community.
We know that much of the impetus behind this spate of recent attacks is due to the hostility towards China due to COVID-19, though it’s also undoubtedly brewed with helpings of the current fierce divide in our country raging over white supremacy, immigration, and policing. And these attacks aren’t new. Since the nineteenth century, Asian Americans have been steadily scapegoated and attacked for everything ranging from economic competition to, yes, previous epidemics. Thinking of just a few famous modern examples—behind which there are thousand of unsung tragedies—the unpunished murder of Vincent Chin in 1982 was explicitly attributed to racism against Asians due to growing manufacturing competition from Japan. In the wake of 9/11, Arab Americans and South Asian Americans were targeted or killed in a wave of Islamophobia. And just a few years ago, anti-Asian violence received national attention when Tony-award winning playwright David Henry Hwang was stabbed in a random attack; he was told by police that Asians and Asian Americans were often targeted because they were perceived as being more vulnerable and isolated.
We are not going to let our campus community be isolated; the vision for the AAC was one of empowerment, education, and community building. The Asian American community and our allies have responded to past attacks with care, education, outreach, and activism, and we will do the same here and now. Please join us.