HCAP Statement on Anti-Asian Violence and Racism

HCAP Statement on Anti-Asian Violence and Racism

Dear all,

We are sending our love, hugs, and thoughts to our HCAP community in light of the recent attacks on massage parlors in Georgia, during which 8 people were murdered, including 6 Asian women. This tragedy is one of many attacks on Asian American elders, immigrant workers, women, and other vulnerable community members over the past year. We condemn those acts of violence and are devastated by the suffering this has caused victims, their families, and our community as a whole.  

This past year’s heightened xenophobia and anti-Asian racism is not new. Often missing in our US history textbooks, the history of trauma and oppression of our diverse Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities must be remembered and retold. There are numerous examples: from the Chinese Exclusion Act, to the colonization of the Pacific Islands, the internment of Japanese Americans, the war in Southeast Asia, post-9/11 racism against South Asian, Sikh, Arab and Muslim communities, to the Muslim ban, to name a few. These histories are often forgotten when AAPI communities are praised as being the “model minority,” a myth that discounts the experiences of our working class and immigrant communities, many of whom are disproportionately impacted by anti-Asian violence. 

We also see anti-Asian racism and racism directed at Black communities and other communities of color as rooted in a system of oppression built on white supremacy. We believe that only by acting in solidarity and in cross-racial coalition can we truly secure safety and healing for all. We commit to calling for solutions that prioritize investment in mutual aid, social services, and restorative justice instead of increased policing, as well as culturally competent and language accessible services for all communities. 

As CUNY Chancellor Matos Rodríguez wrote in his statement condemning anti-Asian violence and discrimination, 1 in 5 undergraduates at CUNY are Asian American or Pacific Islander. Hunter College, a federally funded AANAPISI (Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander Serving Institution), serves a large number of Asian American students, many of whom are from working class, immigrant communities who have been most impacted by the pandemic. We are incredibly proud to center AAPI student experiences at Hunter, and hope to be a support for students as we move forward.

We know that these recent events and increased anti-Asian xenophobia, racism, and violence have hit home for so many of our Hunter and CUNY students. Around one year ago, we wrote to our community as the pandemic began. At that time, many of our AAPI communities were already experiencing increased xenophobia, racism, and anti-Asian rhetoric. We also heard from students about how rising anti-Asian racism affected their lives. Students reported their own experiences of or witnessing microaggressions, verbal assaults, being coughed at or spat upon, and even physical assaults. Most incidents occurred on NYC public transit or public sidewalks. Even if students did not experience an incident first-hand, many were worried their family and friends would become a target. Students reported experiencing physical symptoms and a range of emotional responses as they coped with the anti-Asian climate. Some reported wanting to be invisible as a way to feel safer in public; others felt angry and confused. 

We know this continues to be a difficult time for many students. To support you, HCAP is committed to:

  1. Providing space for learning, discussion, and healing through HCAP and Hunter’s Asian American Studies Program and Center classes and programs.

    HCAP continues to host AAPI mental health check-ins each month. We invite you to join us in discussing how anti-Asian racism may be affecting you, your families and communities. To learn more about upcoming events, please visit: https://huntercap.org/events/ 

  2. Connecting you 1:1 with HCAP staff.

    We view our community as our greatest strength, and strongly believe that we thrive best when we share our burdens together, especially in times of challenge, anger, and grief. If you are interested in speaking with an HCAP staff member for further support, please email HCAP Program Director, Caitlin Ho at ch1322@hunter.cuny.edu.

In addition to the support that HCAP can provide, there are numerous community resources available, some of which are listed below. 

We know this continues to be a wrenching year for many of us. We want to reaffirm that we are here to support students in this difficult time and to stand with broader efforts to combat anti-Asian racism. Please do not hesitate to reach out to us. 

The HCAP Team

Community Resources: 

Important Links & Statements from CUNY and Hunter Leadership:

Hunter College AANAPISI Project: www.huntercap.org and COVID-19 Resources

Hunter Asian American Studies Program and Center:  http://www.hunter.cuny.edu/aasp and Video on Anti-Asian COVID-19 & Anti-Asian Discrimination event

Hunter College President’s Statement on Violence Against Asian Americans: https://hunter.cuny.edu/news/statement-from-president-raab-on-violence-against-asian-americans/?news-feed=spotlight&source=/news/  

CUNY Chancellor’s Statement on Deadly Shootings in Atlanta: https://www1.cuny.edu/mu/forum/2021/03/17/statement-by-chancellor-matos-rodriguez-on-the-deadly-shootings-in-atlanta/