Department of English Statement Against Anti-Asian Racism
Friday, March 26, 2021
Friday, March 26, 2021
On behalf of the English Department, we denounce racism and strive to contribute to anti-racist efforts through our writing, teaching, mentoring, learning, and community work. We categorically condemn all speech and action that endorses racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, xenophobia, Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, ableism, or bigotry of any stripe.
We are grieved and angered by ongoing violence against racialized people—most recently, the shootings in Atlanta on March 16, 2021. Because racism works to erase our humanity, it’s important to reject this erasure through remembrance. Our hearts go out to the families and communities of the eight individuals killed (six Asian American women) and one who survived. We echo our colleagues in the Asian & Asian American Studies Certificate Program who note that this violence is part of the pandemic-related surge in anti-Asian violence (hate crimes against Asian Americans have increased 149% from 2019-2020), as well as linked to the long history of nativism against and racialization of Asian and Asian American people. We stand against this anti-Asian racism and the unrelenting racism that includes but is not limited to police violence against Black people and the inhumane detention of undocumented immigrant families.
We stand alongside Asian and Asian American people in our department and university who are mourning this violence and feeling its ripples. We stand alongside BIPOC students, staff, and faculty who are also mourning and painfully reminded of racial violence in their own communities. And we affirm allies who stand in solidarity with anti-racist efforts.
As writers, scholars, teachers, and learners in English studies, we engage in work that can help us understand and write against such violence. We are deeply troubled by media accounts that privilege the perpetrator’s perspective and that refuse to see this incident in the context of legacies of racism, nativism, and sexism. By contrast, we can practice naming, remembrance, and resistance through our everyday practices: reading narratives by those who’ve been most silenced; analyzing and disrupting oppressive discourses; using critical histories and theories about race, decolonization, transnationalisms, gender, and sexuality; and engaging in brave conversations in our communities.
We seek to address racism through structural change at the same time that we recognize the need for ongoing self-reflection among each of us and as a department. Our recently formed Ad Hoc Committee on Anti-Racism—which includes faculty and student representatives who initiated this statement—is working to invite and listen to the experiences of BIPOC students, staff, and faculty; to reflect on anti-racist approaches to our curricula and teaching practices; and to identify strategies for making our community more racially inclusive. And we stand behind the AAASCP in their calls for our university to support the departments, offices, and student organizations that center racial minority people and their experiences, cultures, and histories.