On behalf of the Regents and executive leaders of the University of Michigan, I express my deepest sympathies to those who are grieving another murderous attack, which resulted in the deaths of eight people in Atlanta. Six of the dead are of Asian descent and seven are women, and the investigation is examining evidence that this horrific shooting spree might be motivated by misogyny or racism.
This tragedy is one more terrifying reminder of hatred and violence in our nation directed at people because of their identity—race, ethnicity, gender identity, or religion for example. During a time when we must work together to solve the challenges of a global pandemic, we are seeing increasing numbers of xenophobic incidents and hateful attacks that target Asians and Asian Americans, along with attempts to exclude the members of these communities from our nation’s universities.
As a university community that welcomed our first Chinese students almost 130 years ago, we cherish the intellectual and social contributions of our students, faculty and staff of Asian descent. The University of Michigan would not be the diverse and excellent place it is today without generations of Asians and Asian Americans who have enhanced our community for more than a century.
We must stand together in rejecting the hate, violence and xenophobia that target our neighbors, colleagues, friends and loved ones of Asian descent. Even as we grieve the many recent racist attacks, members of our community are sharing their support and opportunities to provide a deeper understanding of the racism that is all too prevalent in our society.
These include our Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) Task Force’s excellent compilation of informational and support resources and our Asian Pacific Islander Desi/American (APID/A) Staff Association’s Visual Resources: Tips for Conversations Around Anti-Asian Violence. Our Sexual Assault Prevention and Awareness Center (SAPAC) has numerous resources on gender-based violence.
We also encourage everyone in the U-M community to participate in campus events that examine and challenge racism and misogyny, including:
- Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month events that began this week.
- U-M American Culture Prof. Melissa Borja gives a presentation titled “Anti-Asian Racism and Asian American Activism during the Covid-19 Pandemic” on Thursday.
- Our Institute for Research on Women & Gender (IRWG) is holding a panel titled “Gendered Consequences of Systems Involvement” on Friday, during which leading U-M faculty members will discuss gender-based violence and the systems survivors often deal with.
- On March 26, our Women’s and Gender Studies Department presents “Contextualizing Violence Against Asians and Asian Americans Within the History of U.S. Relational Racism.”
We thank the many individuals and groups at the University of Michigan and beyond who are working tirelessly to upend the ongoing racism in our nation and support us in our fears and sadness over the losses we have endured.
Mark S. Schlissel