A Statement of Solidarity and Commitment to Racial Justice from the Global Asian Studies Program at UIC
"University of Illinois Chicago, USA March 17, 2021
The Global Asian Studies Program at the University of Illinois Chicago stands in solidarity with educators, students, and community leaders nationwide in denouncing the escalating violence directed at Asian and Asian American communities this past year in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. We denounce the surge of attacks directed at Asian and Asian American communities and mourn the lives that have been lost to this violence.
None of what we are witnessing is new; rather, the pandemic has only exacerbated and underlined what we have always known. Anti-Asian racism stems from a long history of xenophobia directed at Asians and Asian Americans that dates back more than a century – from the Chinese Exclusion Acts, the labeling and exclusion of Asian women perceived to be prostitutes, the nativist and discriminatory policies against Filipino agricultural workers, the mass incarceration of Japanese Americans, the murder of Vincent Chin at the height of economic nationalism, the exploitation and violence against women committed by US military personnel stationed in military bases in Asia, the post 9/11 racial profiling and violence directed at Muslim and Sikh communities, and the most recent wave of violence fueled by Trump’s rhetoric of the “China virus.” Sadly, we know that the 3,800 documented anti-Asian racist incidents that have been reported this past year is likely to be only a fraction of the violence and discrimination that have been experienced by Asian and Asian American communities. Such violence stems from a long legacy of systemic state-sanctioned violence rooted in ideals of white supremacy, racial capitalism, heteropatriarchy, and militarism.
We also know that Asian and Asian Americans occupy a fraught location in the American racial landscape – stereotyped and perceived as the alien other, the forever foreign, the so-called yellow peril, on the one hand, and on the other hand, the model minority and story of success and upward mobility. These stereotypes make our communities easy scapegoats or pawns in pitting one social group against another, especially in moments of crisis, such as the current pandemic. However, we know that the COVID-19 pandemic is a social, racial, and economic crisis, in addition to being a public health crisis. And as such, Asian Americans who are poor and undocumented, along with all marginalized communities of color who suffer the consequences of profound structural racism in this country have been especially hard hit and disproportionately impacted.
In these troubled times, we remain committed to working actively to dismantle the “forever foreign” and “model minority” myths that have led to the underserved status of Asian American communities and has been used to pit Asian and Asian American communities against Black, Indigenous, and Latinx communities. We remain committed to working towards holding space for our students and providing an education that recognizes the importance of Asian and Asian American lived experiences and histories, while also ensuring that we are working toward dismantling white supremacy and anti-blackness in our communities. We remain committed to teaching about and working to end forms of structural racism that disproportionately affect communities of color. We remain committed to the urgency of divesting from police and the carceral stated and continue to affirm the Black Lives Matter movement’s call to promote community control of public resources in order to build a more just and equal world. We remain committed to forging cross-racial and anti-colonial global solidarities in the tradition of the Third World Liberation Front as we work towards building the alternative society that many of us are striving for based upon the values of collective care and social justice for all."
Global Asian Studies Program
University of Illinois Chicago, USA