The faculty of the Anthropology Department at the University of Kentucky, in no uncertain terms, condemns the murders of Delaina Ashley Yaun Gonzalez (33), Paul Andre Michels (54), Xiaojie Tan (49), Daoyou Feng (44), Hyun Jung Grant (51), Suncha Kim (69), Soon Chung Park (74), Yong Ae Yue (63), and Elcias Hernandez-Ortiz (30), in Atlanta, Georgia by a white male assailant on March 16, 2021. Six of these nine people were Asian women.
This barbaric massacre is part of a recent rise in anti-Asian racism, manifesting itself in microaggressions and vicious physical attacks against Asian Americans nationwide. According to STOP AAPI (Asian American and Pacific Islander) Hate, from March 2020 to February 28, 2021 there have been over 3,795 reported incidents of anti-Asian racism in the United States. The anti-Asian acts during this period have taken the form of verbal assaults, physical assaults, civil rights violations, and online harassment with Asian women reporting hate incidents 2.3 times more than men. This rising tide in hate crimes culminated in mass murder on March 16, 2021, and additional publicized attacks rooted in anti-Asian racism since that date.
The Trump administration’s usage of the racist term “China Virus” to describe the coronavirus throughout the first year of the pandemic coincides with this rise in anti-Asian racism. We must also contextualize this latest act of white male violence, within a history of Anti-Asian violence and discrimination by the state, including the Chinese Exclusion Act and the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II, alongside the ongoing racialization of Asian Americans as perpetual foreigners, misogynistic fetishization and dehumanization of Asian American women, and a resurgence in ‘yellow peril’ discourse (a xenophobic supposed threat of a Chinese/Asian invasion of the United States and the destruction of the West).
Most importantly, we recognize that anti-Asian racism is rooted in white supremacy: “an historically based, institutionally perpetuated system of exploitation and oppression of continents, nations, and peoples of color by white peoples and nations of the European continent, for the purpose of maintaining and defending a system of wealth, power, and privilege.” White supremacy structures the larger social, political, and economic organization of the United States and produces anti-Asian racism as well as other forms of racism which maintain white power and threaten the lives and livelihoods of Asian Americans and other communities of color.
We stand in solidarity with Asian Americans, denounce anti-Asian racism in the United States, call for continued work in the dismantling of white supremacy within the United States and across anthropology departments, and are ourselves committed to the work of anti-racism and eradicating the culture of white privilege within our own department.
To report COVID-19 racism against Asian-Americans, go to https://stopaapihate.org/
To learn recommendations for stopping anti-Asian racism at colleges and universities, go to https://www.insidehighered.com/advice/2021/04/02/recommendations-stopping-anti-asian-racism-campuses-opinion
To learn more about the long history of anti-Asian, white supremacist violence and genocide in the U.S. that undergirds the current COVID-19-related anti-Asian violence, this publicly accessible documentary is a useful educational resource [with warnings for portrayals of racist imagery and violence]: https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience/films/chinese-exclusion-act/