Response to Anti-Asian Violence

Statement of The Harriet Tubman/ Binghamton University Center in Response to Anti-Asian Violence

Submitted by Dr. Cynthia Marasigan, Advisory Board member

March 22, 2021


The Harriet Tubman/ Binghamton University Center for the Study of Freedom and Equity strongly condemns anti-Asian violence and other forms of anti-Asian racism that have gained more visibility during the covid-19 pandemic. The killing of six Asian American women in Atlanta, Georgia on March 16, 2021 is part of a devastating, nation-wide surge in anti-Asian violence over the past year. Although the county sheriff’s spokesman denied any racial motivation behind the Atlanta murders by attributing them to the white shooter having a “really bad day,” and although the shooter blamed his actions on a “sexual addiction” and professed to eliminate “temptation,” such racist and misogynistic beliefs clearly have deadly consequences. The dismissal of race by the carceral state in this blatantly racist act reinforces a system of white supremacy backed by centuries of state-sponsored violence, race wars, and colonization.

We recognize this act of anti-Asian hate as one of the 3800-plus incidents of racial violence against Asian Americans since March 2020. Xenophobic references to covid-19 as the “China virus” and “Kung Flu” have emboldened perpetrators of anti-Asian violence and have bolstered stereotypes of Asian Americans as perpetual foreigners and as a diseased “Yellow Peril” invading the country. The recent anti-Asian surge constitutes only one part of a longer history of systemic anti-Asian racism, including immigration restriction and exclusion; legal discrimination such as alien land laws and the denial of citizenship; Japanese internment during World War II; U.S. wars fought in the Philippines, Japan, Korea, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos; racial profiling against Muslims and South Asians after 9/11; and substantiated fears of inhumane deportations and family separations for the over 1.7 million undocumented Asians in the United States

As shown by the deaths in Atlanta, anti-Asian violence during the pandemic has been disproportionately directed at women, with nearly 70% of incidents targeting women. Stereotypes of Asian and Asian American women as hypersexual, submissive, and exotic are rooted in Orientalist ideologies and have been institutionalized since the 1875 Page Act, which forbade the entry of Chinese, Japanese, and “Oriental” women “for the purposes of prostitution.” Such damaging depictions have persisted as Asian women suffer as victims of sexual exploitation by soldiers in over 200 U.S. military bases across Asia and as victims of global sex trafficking.

The Center firmly stands in solidarity with the Asian American community in this time of grief and in this fight for racial justice. Especially with the police and the carceral state minimizing the racial motives behind the Atlanta attacks, we see important connections between anti-Asian and anti-Black racism, and we recognize our common struggle to dismantle white supremacy. As a Center dedicated to the study of freedom, we find inspiration in historical Afro-Asian alliances, from Frederick Douglas protesting the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act, to the 29 African and Asian nations committing to self-determination and decolonization at the 1955 Bandung Conference, to the Black Power movement and Asian American Movement establishing ethnic studies departments, to Jesse Jackson advocating for justice for slain Chinese American Vincent Chin, to Asian Americans all over the country marching in support of Black Lives Matter.

We at the Harriet-Tubman/ Binghamton University Center for the Study of Freedom and Equity strive to continue this history of Afro-Asian solidarity and welcome allies of every background to stand with us in strong support of the Asian American community.

Join us for the Binghamton Stop Asian Hate Crimes Rally sponsored by the Binghamton Pan-Asian Leaders Council (BPALC) on March 27 at 12noon on the Peace Quad on campus.