First, I want to offer my sympathy to those directly and indirectly impacted by the most recent act of violence against the 8 victims of the Atlanta shooting—six who were of Asian descent and seven who were women. While the investigation into motive is still underway, these losses of lives occur during a time where there continues to be threats to and attacks toward Asian/Asian American and Pacifica Islander (AAPI) individuals and communities. I am reminded of our definition of “inclusion,” which calls for us to understand how context, histories, and systems must factor in assessing situations and outcomes.
To members of our Asian, Asian American, and Pacific Islander communities, I stand in solidarity with you and share my heartache and frustration with the rise in hate crimes, racism, xenophobia, and anti-Asian sentiment. I reiterate my stance that we must all be concerned with the wellbeing of each other to truly have a democratic, inclusive society where we value each other’s life and existence.
In his Memorandum Condemning and Combating Racism, Xenophobia, and Intolerance Against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the United States, President Joe Biden noted:
“Advancing inclusion and belonging for people of all races, national origins, and ethnicities is critical to guaranteeing the safety and security of the American people. During the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, inflammatory and xenophobic rhetoric has put Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) persons, families, communities, and businesses at risk.”
It is important we stand together to protect, support, and lift up our humanity—this absolutely includes our AAPI colleagues, friends, and communities. Taking action means as bystanders we speak up when we have the opportunity to use our positionality to help others; we report and encourage AAPI community members to report acts of hate or discrimination when it occurs; we take advantage of learning opportunities—workshops, courses, and programs; and we engage in acts of kindness and host activities that provide an alternative message of love and belonging.
At UNL, there are different ways to practice these acts and support AAPI efforts:
- Find ways to speak up and support AAPI communities – Visit Stop AAPI Hate for resources on speaking out and supporting communities and businesses. Another resource, The Southern Poverty Law Center, provides 10 Ways to Fight Hate.
- Be part of the conversation – ODI’s Office of Academic Success and Intercultural Services (OASIS) is hosting a special Dish It Up examining the rise in anti-Asian violence on Thursday, March 25 via Zoom. Learn more about Dish It Up at https://www.unl.edu/oasis/dishitup.
- Report or encourage others to report—for UNL, acts of hate, discrimination, and bias can be reported through TIPS or directly to the offices of Institutional Equity and Compliance; Diversity and Inclusion; or Student Conduct. For the City of Lincoln, individuals may file a complaint with the Lincoln Commission of Human Rights. Another resource is the Asian Community and Cultural Center that supports immigrant and refugee families who face barriers as New Americans. For other cities and municipalities, please check with local city or mayor’s offices.
- Find ways to increase understanding—Consider participating in education activities or taking courses that focus on race and ethnic studies generally and Asian studies and experiences specifically. ODI also offers racial equity resources and “What You Can Do” in our Commitment to Change information hub.
I encourage us to remain vigilant in our pursuit of inclusive excellence—where diversity, equity, and inclusion are paramount to our ability to facilitate student access and success, to attract and retain the most diverse, talented faculty and staff, and to create an environment where every Husker and community we touch feels like they belong and matter.
Marco Barker, PhD