Dear Alumni, Community Members, Students, and University Administrators,
Our world was violently shaken on Tuesday, March 16, 2021, as eight (8) individuals lost their lives to violent domestic terrorism in Atlanta, Georgia. Six (6) out of the eight victims were of Asian descent, casualties of intense xenophobic rhetoric enhanced by anxiety, unease, and incivility. As an organization, the University of Illinois Latino/Latina Alumni Association (LLAA) is alarmed by the continued atmosphere of racism and bigotry in our country. The Asian, Asian-American, and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community has been affected by an exorbitant amount of violence, hate crimes, and discrimination since the COVID-19 pandemic began last year, increasing by 149% in 2020.
As Latinos and as LLAA, we stand in solidarity with the entire Asian community. We stand together, understanding that as marginalized communities, your pain is our pain.
A national spotlight has demonstrated the harsh reality of what it has meant to be Asian in the United States of America during the pandemic. Viral videos of elderly members of the AAPI community being beaten or harassed have saddened us to the reality that Asian individuals navigate daily.
We must speak up when we see inequalities or hear prejudiced rhetoric.
If you experience an incident of discrimination in our community, report it to the authorities, and help our community member(s) in refuge.
In doing so, we align with national calls from leaders across an array of identifications, creeds, and marginalized groups. We support the initiatives and needs to action found in the Ways to Take Action created by stopaapihate.org:
Be civically engaged in your local community.
Ask your elected officials what they are doing to increase resources for survivors and their families, and for intervention- and prevention-based programs such as anti-racism education in schools and in communities.
Demand ordinances or resolutions to condemn hate. Endorse strong civil rights laws at the local and state levels. What are the issues that exist within your community that need to be addressed?
Advocate for expanded civil rights protections that would safeguard Asian Americans and other people from harassment in private businesses.
Work with your workplace, school, faith-based institution, union, or community organization to issue a statement denouncing anti-Asian racism and to encourage everyone to work towards racial justice.
Support Ethnic Studies in your local school districts and educational institutions. Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders have experienced centuries of violence in the U.S. We need to address the perpetual foreigner stereotype that frames Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders as outsiders to this nation. Due to this Orientalist framing, Asians can be excluded, detained, deported, and attacked because we supposedly don’t belong here. Ethnic Studies helps teach students the sources of this racism and promotes racial empathy and solidarity.
Support local Asian-owned businesses. These businesses began seeing a decline in business even before the first case of coronavirus was confirmed in the U.S. and stay-at-home orders were enacted.
At the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the Asian American Cultural Center will be hosting a workshop on how to intervene and stop anti-Asian harassment and xenophobia in the upcoming days to fortify the campus community. We implore all students on campus to attend.
To our Asian siblings, community members, alumni, staff, and faculty, you are not alone. We recognize the fear and trauma that has resulted in the last year and one that culminates with acts of violence against you, but know that we witness it, and we will not be silent. We will work in solidarity to bring about change, work with civic leaders, and seek justice alongside you. We believe in equity, justice, and inclusion for all. We will be unwavering. We will not hesitate to call out the injustices within our Latinx community. As racism is prevalent in our country, we pledge to educate others about the fears they exhibit. The marginalization of the Asian community ends with us.
Your LLAA family remains determined to continue showing up, using our voice, taking action, and seeking justice together. It is time to end racism and prejudice in any form.
The University of Illinois Latina/Latino Alumni Association Board of Directors