Find the initial statement from U President Ruth V. Watkins and Vice President Mary Ann Villarreal in solidarity with Asian, Asian American and Pacific Islander communities here.
The March 16 shooting in Atlanta is a violent reminder of how racialized hate operates in the United States. It is entrenched in our history’s subjugation of people’s bodies: enslavement, genocide, cheap labor. It is built on the misogynistic xenophobia of women’s bodies. While we wait for the “search for clues” on what motivated this deadly attack, we must acknowledge the trauma that again ripples through Asian and Asian American communities.
As we reflect back on the profoundly difficult year that began in March 2020, we cannot look away from the harm and hate inflicted on our communities—and we must call out and name these behaviors, policies and practices that we witness in the news, on our campus and in our neighborhoods.
It has been one year since the U.S. Department of Education issued a letter to all colleges and universities across the nation regarding concerns of discrimination and bias related to the COVID-19 outbreak—specifically an increase in the number of reports regarding stereotyping, harassment and bullying directed toward students and faculty who are perceived to be of Chinese-American or, more generally, Asian descent.
In response, we joined the national #WashTheHate campaign with #UtahWashTheHate. Many of you, our campus and community partners, shared powerful videos and messages on social media denouncing these acts of hate and encouraging others in your circles of influence to speak up.
In September 2020, EDI hosted "Reframing the Conversation: The Rise of Anti-Asian Hate." In an effort to expose experiences and observations of bias and share ways to unify movements to eliminate systemic inequities, our amazing panelists shared ideas on how we can support students who are experiencing anti-Asian racism and described how Asian American health care providers and patients are being impacted.
Six months later, the violent attacks against members of all Asian communities continue to rise in the U.S. This month, the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernadino, released an analysis of police department statistics which revealed anti-Asian hate crimes increased by nearly 150% in 16 of America’s largest cities in 2020—and we know Utah is not exempt. The analysis notes the spike occurred alongside a rise in COVID-19 cases and continued negative associations of Asian Americans and the coronavirus.
We refuse to let this hate win. We will not stop speaking up against the racist hate that rears its ugly head in our communities. We will not give up on creating safe spaces for all bodies in our communities. We will remain united in this fight until we all become the light and the voice for unity and equity. We stand with and grieve with, our Asian American friends, colleagues and families at this terrible time.
When we called on our community to commit to eradicating anti-Black racism in September, many of you showed up with the necessary urgency, courage and compassion—recognizing your own implicit bias, auditing policies and practices in your own offices and departments, and connecting with EDI to uproot the practices of white supremacy embedded in our educational systems. A focus on anti-Black racism does not absolve us from the violent and hateful acts targeted at our communities, specifically today, our Asian American neighbors, friends, family. If anything, it should remind us racism lives deep and spreads its roots wide, and we are all responsible for stepping up and stepping in, to speak out and call for an end to the deep wounds and harm inflicted every day by both our complicit and active racism.
The U’s vision is to unearth systemic racism that breeds inequities across our communities and plant equity practices and belonging. This is a we process, even when we disagree about the how. We know that we cannot do this alone. Only together can we eradicate the racial hierarchies and deep systemic inequities embedded in our society and within our campus.
Please join us in naming, disrupting and dismantling the anti-Asian hate on our campus, in our neighborhoods and in our country. It is our responsibility to ensure that students, staff, faculty, patients and visitors know that we will not be silent, nor will we tolerate these violent and deadly acts based in hate. Together, we can shape a better future that is free from anti-Asian hate and cultivate on our campus a brave, safe space where members of the Asian American community thrive.
The EDI leadership team:
Mary Ann Villarreal, vice president for EDI
José Rodríguez, associate vice president for Health EDI
Emma E. Houston, special assistant to the vice president for EDI—engagement and program development
Daniel K. Cairo, special assistant to the vice president for EDI—strategy and operations
Amy Fulton, director, New Leadership Academy
Pamela Bishop, director, marketing and communications