Dear Antioch faculty, staff and students,
Yet again racism and hatred have taken lives. I was heartbroken and angered by the horrific events in Atlanta this week that took eight innocent lives, six of them Asian American women. These attacks appear to be rooted in a mix of racism and gender violence. Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities across the country have for months now been raising the alarm about an increase in the number of anti-Asian incidents this past year, kindled by our country’s history of xenophobia and sparked by the former President’s repeated use of racist rhetoric to describe COVID-19 and deflect blame. Clearly, this surge of hatred and violence is real.
Stop AAPI Hate released a report three weeks ago showing that in the last year businesses have been the primary site of discrimination, logging 35.4% of hate incidents, with public streets (25.3%) and public parks (9.8%) close behind. The very public nature of these hateful actions shows how they are calculated to make Asian Americans feel unsafe in their communities. And a report this month from the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism shows that in America’s largest cities hate crimes as a whole dropped 6%, yet anti-Asian hate crimes surged a staggering 145%. I encourage those who experience or witness AAPI hate incidents to report them to Stop AAPI Hate, and I want to note that the coalition also provides safety tips for those encountering or witnessing hate incidents.
Hatred has no place at our University. Antioch is—and must always strive to be—an institution that welcomes all and treats all people with the dignity and respect they deserve. But let me be clear: we must also be a voice against hatred and violence everywhere. We must stand up to bigotry and discrimination in all their forms. We must stand against misogyny and xenophobia, wherever and whenever they appear.
What can we do? A start might well be to acknowledge anti-Asian racism in this country which dates back centuries to the first waves of East Asian immigrants to these shores in the 1850s. It is important also to check in with AAPI colleagues, friends, peer learners, and others, offering support or to help in ways you can. And it’s critical to take action. Speak out to stop hatred when you see it. Donate to AAPI causes and businesses if you can. Support political candidates who understand the need for hate-crime legislation and who themselves model respect for all human beings, regardless of race, national origin, color, ethnicity, gender or any other immutable characteristics.
As Chancellor I commit to continuing Antioch’s commitment to being an antiracist institution and an antiracist voice not just in words but in deeds.