Director's Letter on Anti-Asian and Pacific Islander Violence

The following letter was sent to all current DCC students and alumni enrolled at the University of Maryland, College Park, on Tuesday, March 23, 2021.

The DCC community has been devastated after the murders in Atlanta of Soon Chung Park, Hyun Jung Grant, Suncha Kim, Yong Yue, Daoyou Feng, Xiaojie Tan, Delaina Ashley Yaun, and Paul Andre Michels. We condemn these acts and are deeply angry and saddened by this violence. As a community, it is our job to lift each other up in times of injustice and to stand up against such injustices. We seek to build a better world, and that starts within our community and the ways we support each other. By sending this email to you all, I acknowledge that institutional statements of concern do not heal the trauma of this event, nor remedy the anti-Asian and Pacific Islander violence that has grown out of a long history of white supremacy and bigotry in the United States. While statements are insufficient, I can at least start by showing up for you, finding out how you are doing, and supporting you in every way I possibly can. The DCC staff and faculty can be a presence to help you all through this.

In our living-learning community, everyone will be differently impacted by this event. The violence against Asian women in Atlanta was set against a backdrop of complex histories of the dehumanization and sexualization of Asian women in the U.S., of violent imperialism and white supremacy, of the rise of anti-Asian and Pacific Islander violence during the Covid pandemic, of patriarchal religious notions of sexual purity that demonize women (and Asian women in particular), the criminalization of sex work, and the invisibility of victims of sex trafficking. For those who, like me, have not lived with this history as a part of your identity, it is important that we both educate ourselves about the contexts that frame these acts of violence and also show up for those who are most harmed by these histories of violence and oppression. Showing up is being present, authentic, and vulnerable with my close friends to see how they are doing at this time.

We all have a stake in this. For me, as someone who grew up in evangelical spaces and identifies as a white, Christian man, I acknowledge my complicity in these events, the role that communities I am familiar with played in enabling such violent acts. I recognize that my own status can allow me to experience these events in wildly different ways than my close friends and colleagues of Asian and Pacific Islander descent. White supremacy maintains itself by allowing some people to be distant or feel that these acts of violence are irrelevant to their everyday lives. That distance and ability to be silent or indifferent is the toxicity that continues to enable such violent acts.

To those who are in need of support, I want to use this space to communicate my care for you. I am so deeply sorry for what you’re facing at this moment. The staff in DCC offer their overwhelming love and care and desire to see healing for you. As one small step toward enacting that care, I have expanded my office hours over the coming weeks to meet with any of you who would like to talk (even just to drop in for a moment). You don’t need to come with a plan or agenda; just drop in. You can book my office hours at https://ter.ps/bookdcc.

With love and solidarity,

Jason

On-campus events and other resources:

  • AAHCV will be holding a Candlelight Vigil on Wednesday, March 24, at 6:00pm ET on McKeldin Mall.
  • MICA and the Counseling Center will be holding a processing space for students this Thursday at 4pm. Register here.
  • Asian American Student Union and South Asian Student Association will be doing a collaborative event on the impact of language on the AAPI community this Thursday, March 25, 2021, at 6:00pm ET.

Click here for learning resources curated and compiled by DCC Graduate Assistant Eva Peskin.

To learn more about DCC’s broader approach to anti-racism, click here.