Message to Students, Faculty, and Staff—Confronting Anti-Asian Racism and Violence (March 24, 2021)

To students, faculty, and staff,

Violence against Asians, Asian Americans, Pacific Islanders, and people of Asian descent did not begin last week or last month. While the brutal murders in Atlanta were shocking, members of the Asian community will tell you that anti-Asian racism, hate, and violence is not new and is an ever-present fear.
The past year saw a sharp rise in this violence, some of which was reported by the media. Much more of it went unreported. In my recent messages on this, I have spoken out against this racism and violence, and provided links to resources for support for those of Asian identity in our community. I also shared resources created by some of our students and faculty to better understand anti-Asian racism.

The Office of Inclusion and Diversity (OID) is building out this list of readings, and I urge you to devote time to reviewing this page on the website and to self-guided study on the violence, racism, and structural challenges faced by those of Asian identities. If you have suggestions for additional pieces, please send them to oid@bowdoin.edu for review and potential inclusion.

OID is also inviting members of the Asian community of students, staff, and faculty to share their stories and experiences, both to provide those who choose to participate with a public forum to express themselves and for the rest of us to learn. These anonymous submissions will be shared as delivered with no editing. A Bowdoin log-in will be needed to complete the form, but the College will not be able to track who makes a submission. Please submit your stories here for a community revealing that will start the week of April 5 on the OID website.

On Monday, April 5, 2021, a "Stop Asian and Pacific Islander Violence" vigil coordinated by OID and organized by students, faculty, and staff will be held beginning at 6:30 p.m. on the steps of the Walker Art Building, and I very much hope you will consider participating. If the weather makes an outside gathering impossible, you will be notified of a rain plan that Monday morning. If you are not in the testing protocol or are otherwise unable to come to campus, you can participate by viewing the livestream provided on the Bowdoin website.

The last year has been among the most challenging that our country has faced in a very long time—the pandemic, the unabated violence and murder directed at those of marginalized racial and ethnic identities, an awakening among some to the embedded persistence and devastating effects of racism, and most recently, renewed gun violence. Bowdoin has a responsibility to provide the conditions to create knowledge and to educate our students in ways that allow us to understand these problems and contribute to ending them, to create a campus where everyone has a true sense of belonging, and to provide resources and the opportunities to convene and support one another in this work and when terrible things happen. I take the responsibility for the College to get better and better at this work, and I seek your help in doing so. I would also ask you to consider what you can do to continue to make a difference. For example, how can you support and protect others in our community? How can you be an effective ally? What can you do to understand the nature and impact of racism, and know what it means to be anti-racist? How can you engage with political leaders and with voters to take action to break down the structural racism in our society?

I am very grateful to my colleagues in OID, in this case Benje Douglas and Dharni Vasudevan, for their considerable work. Thank you for all you that you do for one another and for Bowdoin.

Clayton