AAS Statement on Anti-Asian Racism and Violence

March 18, 2021

Statement issued by the AAS Board of Directors

The Association for Asian Studies condemns the escalating violence and ongoing harassment directed at Asians, Asian Americans, and Pacific Islanders and stands in solidarity with community leaders, students, and educators who are actively engaged in anti-racist action and serving the needs of the most vulnerable members of the AAPI community. The March 16, 2021 killing of eight people, six of whom were Asian American women, in Atlanta constitutes the latest in an awful history of racist and misogynist acts of terror inflicted upon U.S. citizens and residents. 

As scholars of the languages, cultures, societies, and histories of Asia, we value the critical examination of the ways in which trans-Pacific dynamics impact the perception of Asians and Pacific Islanders in America. The recent escalation of anti-AAPI violence is not simply a matter of individual acts of racism or misogyny. All too tragically, the U.S. government consistently has fostered, perpetuated, and exacerbated the belief that members of AAPI communities are foreign others through its history of exclusion acts, restrictions on naturalization, characterization of Asian women immigrants as potential prostitutes, and the incarceration of innocent Japanese Americans during World War II. The politicization of COVID-19, such as mocking references to China or Wuhan, has further inflamed anti-AAPI sentiments, legitimating the belief that all members of AAPI communities can be reduced to virus carriers and not treated as human beings. Sites tracking anti-AAPI violence and harassment have reported thousands of incidents since the start of the pandemic. 

As the largest scholarly association for Asian Studies in the world, we cannot remain silent in the face of ongoing attacks on members of the AAPI community. We express our deepest sympathy to the families of the most recent victims and call upon our political, university, and community leaders to address this urgent crisis.​

Further Resources

Statement by the Circle for Asian American Literary Studies

Report by Stop AAPI Hate on hate incidents in the United States during 2020-21

Readings on the history of anti-Asian racism and how to be an anti-racist ally, compiled by Jennifer Ho (University of Colorado Boulder)

“Confronting Prejudice: How to Protect Yourself and Help Others,” by OnlinePsychology@Pepperdine, the Online Master of Psychology program from Pepperdine University.

Antiracist Toolkit, focused on the action areas of educating and assessing ourselves; examining and revising our work; and enacting change. Created by the Department of Asian Studies, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

“Coronavirus and Racism: Asian-Americans in the Crossfire,” July 2020 episode of Asia Matters podcast featuring AAS President Christine R. Yano (University of Hawaii at Manoa) and Jennifer Pan (Stanford University)

Christine R. Yano, “Racing the Pandemic: Anti-Asian Racism amid COVID-19,” from The Pandemic: Perspectives on Asia, edited by Vinayak Chaturvedi and published by the AAS Asia Shorts book series

“Black and Asian American Feminist Solidarities: A Reading List,” created by Black Women Radicals

Testimony of Erika Lee, Ph.D., discussing the history of systemic racism and racial violence targeting Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, presented before the Subcommittee on Civil and Constitutional Rights, Committee on the Judiciary, March 18, 2021, posted at Denshō Blog.

Christi Carras, “Daniel Dae Kim Urges Congress to Protect Asian Americans Amid Violent Hate Incidents,” Los Angeles Times (March 18, 2021).