Statement from the Racial Justice Task Force of SAAH
We want to thank those that have left comments on the Racial Justice Task Force's statement that was posted on March 19, 2021. We appreciate your comments, and we are learning from them. We're reposting the revised statement with three edits: Firstly, we want to recognize our mistake in abbreviating some of the names of three of the victims. The middle part of a Korean name should not be abbreviated. We've removed the names of the victims following the lead of Asian Americans Advancing Justice Atlanta, which, out of respect to the victims and their families, has held off on sharing names until receiving full consent to do so. We've also edited our first slide in referring to the murderer as a terrorist as this phrasing, resulting from the "war on terror," has proved damaging, primarily but not limited to, Muslim and Arab people. It has also been increasingly used to police Black Lives Matter and anti-fascist protesters.
We recognize that the murder of eight people, mostly Asian women, that took place on March 16, 2021 in Atlanta, Georgia has left many of our students, staff, faculty, and members of our broader communities in pain. The trauma of this hate crime committed by a white supremacist is undoubtedly felt deeply amongst those who identify as part of Asian, Asian-American, and Pacific Islander communities.
It is important to acknowledge that anti-Asian prejudice and violence has a centuries-long history in this country and to also recognize that the increase in crimes targeting Asians and Asian-Americans demands a response.
The RJTF formed in the summer of 2020 in response to the demands issued by a number of Black-led student groups at UIC. Our ongoing work includes responding to instances of harm against BIPOC communities. This moment of increased harm and trauma for Asian, Asian-American, and Pacific Islander people in this country has amplified for us the need to publicly affirm our commitment to working towards racial justice.
We will continue to identify areas where we can use our power to build a culture of racial justice in the School of Art & Art History, at UIC, and within our communities. We will continue to listen and respond when BIPOC students, staff, and faculty tell us they are being harmed. We will continue to investigate the ways we can address our own individual experiences of and relations to systems of racial oppression.
In the wake of trauma, statements of solidarity can be meaningful or can feel performative. As a group engaged in the long-term work of racial justice, we offer this statement as a recognition of the particular moment of trauma impacting Asian, Asian-American, and Pacific Islander people, and as a reminder to ourselves and others that we have much work to do.
We encourage you to read statements shared by AAPI-led organizations in response to the rise in violence and harassment:
Resources and Education:
Anti-Asian Bias Tools and Resources produced by UIC’s Asian American Resource and Cultural Center:
Teaching Against Racism produced by UIC’s Global Asian Studies program:
Yellow Peril COVID-19 teach-in organized by the UIC Asian and Asian American Student Collective:
Axis Lab AAPI Resources:
Bystander Intervention Training:
Asian Americans Advancing Justice Chicago
Hollaback and Asian Americans Advancing Justice (National)
Tools and Texts for Self-Reflection and Discussion:
Dismantling Racism Works Web Workbook
Why This Wave of Anti-Asian Racism Feels Different by Morgan Ome, The Atlantic
The Massacre in Atlanta Was As Predictable As White Supremacy by Elie Mystal, The Nation
Asian Americans Are Scared for a Reason, Editorial Board, The New York Times
The History of Tensions — and Solidarity — Between Black and Asian American Communities, Explained by Jerusalem Demsas and Rachel Ramirez, Vox
We Need to Put a Name to this Violence by Jay Caspian Kang, The New York Times
For those with children in their lives:
Young, Proud, and Sung-Jee: A Children's Book on Fighting Anti-Asian Racism During Covid-19
(PDF version of the book and helpful caregiver tips at the end)
The Racial Justice Task Force
Catherine Becker, William Estrada, Ömür Harmanşah, Therese Quinn, Jennifer Reeder, Karyn Sandlos (co-chair), Anthony Stepter (co-chair), Lorelei Stewart