Standing with Our Asian and Asian-American Community Members

Dear Members of the Bates Community,

As the world struggles with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, we continue to see an appalling rise in anti-Asian discrimination and hate crimes across the country.

Last night, our nation witnessed a horrific series of violent attacks in Atlanta where eight lives were lost, and six of the victims were Asian women. Regardless of what the investigation determines about the motivations for these killings, they occur at a moment when anti-Asian bias has reached disturbing levels. Since last March alone, nearly 3,800 hate incidents directed at Asians, Asian Americans, and Pacific Islanders have been reported in the U.S., and this number most certainly represents a small fraction of total incidents.

Closer to home, the Portland Press Herald yesterday reported an incident of harassment against an Asian woman and her children in Portland. While sitting in her car with her children, she was accosted and verbally harassed, and the assaulter kicked off her side view mirror. 

The brutal killings in Atlanta are shocking by any measure. Equally troubling is the pervasiveness of racially-motivated acts against Asian-identified people that occur with distressing frequency. Whether these acts take the form of verbal harassment, shunning, physical assault, workplace discrimination, refusal of service, or online bullying, their goal is to undermine the fundamental rights, dignity, and belonging of those they target. 

Asian-identified members of the Bates community have shared with me that they have had direct and personal exposure to these kinds of frightening and deeply harmful experiences at home, on campus, and throughout their lives. They also suffer the stress of living in a time and a nation where every day holds the threat of dehumanizing interactions, concern about loved ones, and even physical violence.

This evening at 6 p.m., the team in the Office of Intercultural Education (OIE) will offer a virtual space for students to gather in community. The OIE team will be sending a message to all students later today with more details about the virtual gathering this evening. 

Additionally, the following resources are available to members of our community seeking  support:

A number of campus resources are available for those who wish to report an incident of bias, discrimination, or harassment.

The events of this week are yet one more bleak reminder that each of us and all of us together are called to bear witness against the violence of racism, to act for justice, and to affirm our shared humanity.