Throughout history, it has been the inaction of those who could have acted; the indifference of those who should have known better; the silence of the voice of justice when it mattered most; that has made it possible for evil to triumph.Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Words cannot describe the collective horror and disgust we all experienced when six Asian women were killed in Atlanta this week. While details of the investigation are forthcoming, we know that the killer was not just “having a bad day.” What transpired in Atlanta was the specific targeting of Asian American women in a clear manifestation of the devastating intersection of misogyny and anti-Asian hatred. What we witnessed in Atlanta and across the nation is the systematic targeting of Asian Americans for abuse, discrimination and overt bias based on the callous demagoguery by the former administration, which continued to intentionally and relentlessly mischaracterize COVID-19 as the “Wuhan virus” or the “China virus.” What transpired in response to those racist, xenophobic rants were the ugliest manifestations of othering and racialization, which is described as a political process of ascribing ethnic or racial identities to a relationship, social practice, or group that did not identify itself as such. This phenomenon is occurring at a time when some Americans are growing increasingly insecure about the COVID-19 pandemic and the consequent economic insecurity and are looking for someone to blame.
Over this past year, Asian Americans across our nation have lived in constant fear, as reports build of increasingly bold and violent, anti-Asian hate incidents, particularly among women and the elderly, the most vulnerable groups. A recent study from California State University’s Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism showed that hate crimes against Asian Americans in 16 of the country’s largest cities spiked nearly 150 percent amid the coronavirus pandemic. A report released this week by Stop AAPI Hate revealed that nearly 3,800 incidents of anti-Asian attacks were reported over the course of roughly a year during the pandemic and that a disproportionate number of attacks were directed at women. America is in a dark place, and will remain there until Americans who truly believe in a tolerant, inclusive society speak out against this inhuman treatment of our Asian American community.
Momentum is building for national action. On March 18, 2021, The House Committee on the Judiciary, chaired by Jerrold Nadler, convened a hearing on Discrimination and Violence against Asian Americans. Here at the School of Medicine, we grieve for the families of the Asian women who were brutally murdered in Atlanta, and stand in support and solidarity with Asian Americans across this country. We stand in support and solidarity with our students, trainees, faculty and staff of Asian background, who for too long have suffered in silence at the indignity of being told they do not belong. We will not allow the evil of racial resentment to triumph.
The abhorrent attacks against Asian Americans have strengthened our resolve to become anti-racist; to create an environment where everyone is appreciated, uplifted, and included. We will do this by:
- Becoming upstanders when we witness bias and discrimination on our campus
- Hosting Special Perspectives sessions for the WUSM community to come together to reflect and process the most current events, the intersections of race and gender, and how to support our AAPI community moving forward (check our calendar for dates and times)
- Increasing awareness of mental health and other services to those in need
- Incorporating Asian American perspectives in our programming and professional development offerings used to train our students, residents and fellows
- Reaching out to our Asian American community in St. Louis and ask permission to serve as their allies.
We recognize that the discrimination against Asian Americans is unfortunately not new in this country, however we are past the time when we must stand up and say this must stop. As we have spoken out against discrimination of the BIPOC community in America, we stand with our Asian American brothers and sisters and say, we are one in America.
More from our community:
Department of Ob/Gyn: Statement on Violence and Racism against Asians
- Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Office of Diversity Programs
- Asian-Pacific American Medical Student Association (APAMSA)
- APIDA (Asian Pacific Islander Desi American) Staff and Faculty Affinity Group
- Connections @ Washington University
- Washington University Anti-Discrimination and Anti-Bias Policies
- Reporting a concern if you have experienced or witnessed discrimination
- PBS Video – Violence Against Asian Americans
- AAPI Resource Tool to Report Anti-Asian Discrimination
- St. Louis community resources: