Dear Members of the Emerson Community,
Since the outbreak of COVID-19 was officially reported to the World Health Organization on December 31, reports of racist and xenophobic acts against Asians have increased substantially. Last month, Michelle Bachelet, the United Nation’s High Commissioner for Human Rights, said, “The coronavirus epidemic has set off a disturbing wave of prejudice against people of Chinese and East Asian ethnicity.” Since Michelle Bachelet’s remarks in late February, reports of xenophobia have continued to increase. Let’s be clear: COVID-19 is not a Chinese virus or a foreign virus. It is a virus deeply affecting communities around the world.
It is our collective responsibility to be in solidarity with people affected by racism and xenophobia. We must do more than appreciate the community messages sent by others or “like” social media posts that denounce racist acts. As one Emerson student said years ago, “I have the receipts…all of the messages that have been sent about racist acts and yet we are still experiencing racism.” We must interrupt racist and xenophobic acts wherever and whenever they occur.
We must also recognize and honor the people who are still working outside of their homes in support of all of us. Let us do what is necessary to truly be in solidarity with others. Let our actions speak more than our words.
- Speak up if you hear racist or xenophobic remarks and let people know the behavior is not acceptable. Concerns about COVID-19 are no excuse for racist behavior. We will speak up and you can, too.
- Be an active bystander in solidarity with people from racialized and marginalized groups. If you can do so safely, interrupt harassment whether you witness it in person or online.
- Express dissent if you notice something in the news or on social media that reflects racism and xenophobia. Draft a letter to the editor, leave a comment, or report it. At Emerson, you can share your experience anonymously to the Social Justice Center at www.emerson.edu/bias. You can also report incidents targeting Asians to the Asian Pacific Planning & Policy Council through their online reporting center: www.asianpacificpolicyandplanningcouncil.org/stop-aapi-hate
- Do your own work by deepening your knowledge of anti-racist practices. For a starting place, check out the Catalyst Project’s 15 Ways to Strengthen Anti-Racist Practices at: https://collectiveliberation.org/15-ways-to-strengthen-anti-racist-practice
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