I was sickened and horrified last night to learn of a shooting spree at three Atlanta-area spas that killed eight people, including six Asian women. This follows a period of an alarming local and nationwide surge in racist harassment, abuse, and violence directed against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.
As so often is the case, the current wave of anti-Asian acts began with racist rhetoric. As Provost Rowley and Vice President Robinson noted in their Lunar New Year message last month, xenophobic rage and hysteria was stoked by racist rhetoric that scapegoated Asians and Asian Americans for the spread of the coronavirus. Over the past year, nearly 3,800 incidents, ranging from verbal attacks and job discrimination to vandalism and deadly violence against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, have been recorded.
It was a welcome and reassuring sign that President Biden ordered federal agencies during his first week in office to take action to combat the racism that has been directed toward Asian American and Pacific Islander persons, families, communities, and businesses.
As an inclusive, welcoming community united in our resolve to help build a smarter, healthier, more equitable and more just society, we have to do our part as well. We must always stand as one to protect and defend any member of our community against discrimination, harassment, and assault. And we must come together as one not only to condemn all acts and expressions of racism directed toward our Asian and Asian American sisters and brothers, but also (and especially) to marshal our intellectual and moral energies to combat racism and hate in all its forms.
We can take a concrete step in that direction in that direction by joining this afternoon’s Black and Gold Forum at 4 p.m., Eastern Daylight Time. Hosted by the Office of the Vice President for Diversity and Community Affairs, this forum is part of the critical, community-wide efforts in many of our academic and administrative areas – examining America’s long, sad history of hate and racist discrimination, violence against communities of color, and of the disproportionate tolls in hate crimes, bias, economic upheaval, and health disparities that these communities have borne.
Our commitment to fighting racism and promoting diversity, equity, inclusion, and social justice must be embedded in all of our work and daily interactions. So many among us have been working assiduously on this front for years, but we all have much more to learn. I hope you will join me at this afternoon’s forum – so we all rededicate ourselves to the work of creating a more equitable and just world.
President, Teachers College