HKS Caucuses and KSSG Statement on Anti-AAPI Violence

17 March 2021

We as the AAPI Caucus, Arab Caucus, Black Student Union, Equity Coalition, Jewish Caucus, Latinx Caucus, LGBTQ+ Caucus, Progressive Caucus, Women’s Caucus, and KSSG Leadership write to firstly acknowledge and express our outrage at the latest wave of anti-Asian/Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) racism and violence in Atlanta. This incident comes after a year of increased violence against the AAPI community in the United States related to associations between AAPI people and the COVID-19 pandemic that are fueled by racism and xenophobia.

This latest incident, like the majority of reported anti-AAPI violence, also targeted women specifically, further fueling growing trends of femicide and gender-based violence. Specifically, as it relates to AAPI women, Yuh-Line Niou calls out the hypersexualized stereotypes that lead to violence against Asian women being “overlooked, erased, and legitimized.” As Michelle Kim also notes, “this is more than just anti-Asian hate. This is also about fetishization, misogyny, exploitation, sexual violence, poverty, colonialism, erasure… ALL OF IT.”

Anti-AAPI violence is not new. Factors like the white supremacist ideology that is embedded within American culture manifest itself into violence and exclusion. We can trace this thread of anti-Asian violence back to the Chinese Exclusion Act (1882), Japanese internment camps (1942-1945), and countless other historic injustices. For centuries, AAPI-identifying folks from various backgrounds have had to navigate the senseless xenophobia that exists within the US, and around the world. If this information is new to you, we implore you to please do your due diligence to learn more so that you can combat the erasure of racism against our AAPI friends. To uproot the toxic beliefs that repeatedly put people of Asian descent in harm’s way, we must commit to the principles of anti-racism.

The murders in Atlanta are especially sickening given the gendered element to them. As Christine Anh challenges us to consider, “How many wars has the U.S. waged in Asia which have led to the … massive displacement of people, forcing many to sell their bodies or migrate to survive? Only to be a forever foreigner here in the U.S. where Asian women are cast as submissive, passive or hypersexualized. Let’s take a hard and honest look at what happened in Atlanta today. I can almost guarantee you that those Asian women who were killed came from poor, immigrant families who fled countries impacted by US war or neoliberal policies.”

As we reckon with the latest wave of anti-AAPI violence, we ask that we all heed Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Atlanta (AAJC)’s call to “hold the victims and their families in our hearts and with light.”

We also want to take this time to encourage members of the HKS community to take tangible action steps toward supporting our AAPI family and loved ones through the following:            

  • Provide financial support to campaigns striving to:
    • Challenge xenophobic misinformation campaigns
    • Expand documentation & reporting of anti-AAPI violence & hate crimes
    • Provide medical relief & social services to AAPI families targeted in hate crimes
    • Implement policies & legislation that enforce greater protections for People of Color (POC)

And finally, we want to highlight Harvard resources for those dealing with the impacts of this incident:

In solidarity,

AAPI Caucus, Arab Caucus, Black Student Union, Equity Coalition, Jewish Caucus, Latinx Caucus, LGBTQ Caucus, Progressive Caucus, Women’s Caucus, KSSG VP of Diversity, Equity, and Anti-Racism, KSSG President