My name is Allison Zhang, and I am about to graduate from the University of Connecticut with a double major in Psychological Sciences and Human Development & Family Sciences. I am very excited to say that I am starting my Masters in Social Work at Columbia University this fall. This next step is truly a dream come true. I will be on the Advanced Clinical Track with a specialization in youth, children, and families. My end goal is to become a therapist that specializes in offering services that understands and prioritizes variations and issues within cultural identities. My time in Dr. Chang’s Asian American studies course helped me realize how important this distinction was for my future studies and career. Myself and countless others can attest to the struggles and difficulties that come with being first generation Asian-Americans, many of which can manifest into serious mental health issues. I know through personal experience how frustrating it can be when mental health professionals fail to recognize the cultural implications that are prevalent in our mental health, as one simply cannot separate our culture from our health. Approaching these problems with a one-size-fits all Western perspective can often be shortsighted, and has the potential to be extremely dangerous. With this in mind, I hope that one day I can begin to work through the many traumas that the Asian-American community has collectively accumulated, as well as care for the individual needs of any patient that I encounter. By centering cultural experiences in my services, I hope to be a source of positive change for not only my community, but for the social work field as a whole. I am very grateful to Dr. Chang for his support and guidance through my journey, as it was his course that helped me realize the magnitude of the Asian-American experience and the power it can hold.
UCONN ASSOCIATION FOR ASIAN AMERICAN FACULTY AND STAFF (AAAFS) STATEMENT ON ANTI–ASIAN VIOLENCE
The first cases of Covid–19 in the United States were reported in January 2020, and since that time there has been a massive increase in anti–Asian violence across the United States. STOP AAPI HATE notes that hundreds and sometimes thousands of reported incidents occur every month. They report that incidents of verbal attacks, avoidance, physical assault, online harassment, and being spit upon are the most common forms. A recent New York Times article also details many of the abhorrent and deplorable crimes and actions that have targeted Asians over the last year. It is a sad compendium of history and facts that delves into the nuances and complications related to anti–Asian racism. Nationally, attacks are most common in businesses, public streets and sidewalks, parks, online and in public transit, but they also happen here at UConn.
UConn’s commitment to combating anti–Asian racism began in 1987 with an episode of students’ verbal attacks and spitting on other Asian American peers. What can we say has changed in 33 years? Certainly, our resolve and commitment to the community has only strengthened in these decades, while the number of Asians and Asian Americans at the University has grown significantly. At UConn, there are thousands who identify as Asian and Asian American: 12.7% of the University’s workforce (faculty, staff, administrators, and graduate assistants; Fall 2019), and 10.5% of our students (Fall 2020). In addition, a significant percentage of our international students come from Asian countries.
Mike Keo, Activist–in–Residence of UConn’s Asian and Asian American Studies Institute, started the social media campaign #IAMNOTAVIRUS to humanize Asians and Asian Americans targeted by hateful rhetoric, and to counter this virulent and unwarranted malice. We release this statement in the same spirit, to:
- draw appropriate attention to the intensifying violence against Asians in America;
- formally state our position in this ongoing conflict of systems, cultures, histories, and sensibilities;
- and call upon faculty, staff, administrators, and all UConn students and stakeholders to rise to the challenge of actively opposing racism and hate against Asians, all marginalized groups, and all peoples of color.
We state as clearly and as boldly as we can: all of this has impacted us, the Asians and Asian Americans at UConn.What is happening is wrong and we must stand together to not only identify and call–out this kind of behavior and its bad actors; but we must work systemically and synergistically to change culpable aspects of our university and society, to ultimately eradicate this malignancy.
Though today’s political climate often attempts to polarize such issues and concerns, we hope that you will see that this is not a political comment. Rather, it is a call for solidarity and commitment, awareness and understanding, attention and action. We stand with our fellow peer groups and associations, institutes and centers, and student organizations at UConn that are committed to combating the prejudiced, racist, harmful, and violent actions and words that attempt to marginalize and divide us even further. We hope that all of UConn will not only stand behind us, your Asian and Asian American colleagues, but stand with us, as we form even greater bonds and grow in numbers and strength across the university.
For we refuse to wear the moniker of the ‘model minority.’ Because of this racial stereotype, Asian Americans are too often left out of discussions of racial justice, thus ignoring our pain, minimizing our feelings, and assuming a passive response. We call on the University’s Administration to formally recognize that anti–racist work must account for the historical legacy and impact of racism on all peoples of color, including Asians. Further, we call on the University’s Administration to not only condemn recent acts of violence against Asians, but also consciously recognize the impact that these acts have on our UConn family. Even during the unprecedented times we are living through now—battling the Covid–19 pandemic; addressing the scourge of systemic racism; and navigating economic insecurity and inequity for millions of people—we ask the UConn Administration to see that this is exactly the right time to ensure, specifically and concretely, that the lens of justice sees all shades of Yellow, Black, and Brown.
As part of our work as a cultural organization at the University, we will host a virtual panel on March 18, from 5–6:30pm. “Asians in America: Anti–Asian Violence and the Fight Against Invisibility”will feature UConn students, faculty, and staff; provide perspectives on today’s climate and its impact on UConn’s Asian and Asian American community; shed light on our experience;and galvanize anti–racist efforts that will benefit us all. To register for the event, please click here.
We also encourage you to access resources and organizations such as:
- STOP AAPI HATE,
- Asian Americans Advancing Justice, (AAAJ) and
- Chinese for Affirmative Action, to name a few.
At UConn, please communicate with your peers and colleagues, with your supervisors, and with the administration, to let them know where you stand, and your need for allyship and support.
The Association for Asian American Faculty and Staff hopes that we can work more closely with you and yours each and every day to combat racism, stifle prejudice, and ultimately deconstruct the systems and structures at our university and within society that uphold the American caste system where all shades darker than white are consciously and subconsciously considered less–than.
This struggle began centuries ago; it takes on new forms today; and will continue tomorrow, and the next. If our work helps us to achieve greater unity, then we will have found success.
Yours in solidarity,
The Executive Board of the Association for Asian American Faculty and Staff
The Asian American Cultural Center
The Asian and Asian American Studies Institute
We, the faculty and staff of the interdisciplinary Centers, Institutes, and Programs, stand together to express our shock, our heartbreak, and our outrage at the horrific and senseless killing of George Floyd and the ongoing violence against Black people.
George Floyd, David McAtee, Tony McDade, Ahmaud Arbery, Eric Garner, Breonna Taylor, Kathryn Johnston, Ayiana Stanley-Jones, Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice, Alton Sterling, Freddie Gray, Philando Castile, Sandra Bland. Too many to list and too many to forget.
Each of these names represents a human being, dehumanized, rendered invisible, a Black life cut short by brutality and wanton violence.
We cannot look away. We cannot remain indifferent. We cannot be silent.
We must expose and confront the deep, pervasive, systemic issues that continue to fuel one tragedy after another. We must work together to bring real change. As academic units and programs of the university founded on principles of social justice and human rights we reaffirm our commitment to educating the next generation of healers and freedom fighters. The vision of change, which this crisis on top of a catastrophic pandemic calls for, is a broad, systemic, and intergenerational strategy. We recognize that broad societal change cannot be legislated alone, but must be cultivated community by community, day by day. To that end, we reaffirm our commitment to creating communities of accountability; implementing actions that dismantle the status quo of white supremacy; and amplifying the voices and experiences of people of color.
As a first step, we encourage you to join us in programs that will bring communities into conversation including tonight’s AACC Town Hall Meeting, presented by The H. Fred Simons African American Cultural Center:
The COVID-19 Pandemic and Racism in the African-American Community
Thursday, June 4, at 6 PM
https://preview.mailerlite.com/k8h6u0/1435486084640281891/n9g0/ (This event has already passed)
We also encourage you to read the public statement on anti-black violence from the Africana Studies Institute:
We stand together with communities of color across the country as they yet again are subject to pain and suffering at the hands of a racist and unjust system. We support our students, from the African American, Asian American, Puerto Rican and Latin American, Women’s and Rainbow Centers, and Native American Cultural Programs, and all who are struggling to demand recognition of their rights and transformation of the conditions in which they live. We are not silent. We are not indifferent. We are implicated and, therefore, responsible. We will not stand idly by while the blood of our community members cries from the ground.
“Justice is not a natural part of the lifecycle of the United States, nor is it a product of evolution; it is always the outcome of struggle.”
― Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, From #BlackLivesMatter To Black Liberation
You are not alone. We are with you.
African American Cultural Center
Africana Studies Institute
American Studies Program
Asian American Cultural Center
Asian and Asian American Studies Institute
Center for Judaic Studies and Contemporary Jewish Life
El Instituto (Institute of Latina/o, Caribbean, and Latin American Studies)
Human Rights Institute
Puerto Rican/Latin American Cultural Center
Thomas J. Dodd Research Center
Women’s, Gender & Sexuality Studies Program
From: Asian American Cultural Center, African American Cultural Center, Rainbow Center, Puerto Rican/Latin American Cultural Center, Women’s Center, Asian and Asian American Studies Institute, El Instituto, Africana Studies Institute, Human Rights Institute, Dodd Center, Center for Judaic Studies, Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies Program, American Studies Program, International Student & Scholar Services, and Office for Diversity and Inclusion
As the concerns about the COVID-19 virus rapidly increase on a daily basis, we want to acknowledge how this pandemic is impacting members of our community differently.
● There has been a rise of incidents of anti-Asian racism in our local community, our state, our nation and worldwide. Asian and Asian Americans have been subjected to verbal and physical attacks, cyberbullying, discrimination against their businesses, and xenophobic portrayals. We would like to firmly state that such acts of hate will not be tolerated in our community. Such acts only further perpetuate the cycle of violence and fuel white supremacy. We encourage those who have experienced bias of any kind to report the incidents at https://dos.uconn.edu/bias-reporting/
● Going home is not safe for everyone. For some family, partners, and/or guardians may be abusive. For support around gender-based violence, please visit the Title IX website at https://titleix.uconn.edu/
● Going home is not an option for everyone. Many of our International students are facing travel restrictions that preclude them from leaving and/or returning to the US. We encourage you to participate in the University’s Town Hall on April 14th to share your concerns and suggestions.
● We would like to acknowledge that many folx may be isolated from supportive networks during this time of physical distancing. For many LGBTQIA+ students, returning home may have required concealing one’s true identity in order to survive in a space with family members/others who are not affirming/safe. Connecting to positive resources, people, organizations, and leaders at this time can be helpful. Visit the Cultural Centers’ websites to learn about the different opportunities for support available to you.
● As the concerns about the COVID-19 virus keeps rapidly changing, more and more anti-immigrant sentiment keeps also growing. Unfortunately, a political narrative of a “foreign threat” has accompanied information about the spread of the virus. This anti-immigrant and anti-Semitic speech is wrong and dangerous. The political environment of the pandemic has given rise to hateful conspiracy theories and disinformation meant to scapegoat Asians and Jews, along with Israel and China internationally. We stand in solidarity with our international students, our Asian American students, our undocumented and DACAmented students. In particular, we acknowledge our undocumented and DACAmented students who continue to face the threat of deportation while negotiating the constraints of the pandemic. As if these conditions were not difficult enough, the Supreme Court is poised to rule on the DACA case in the upcoming months, putting additional strain on our DACAmented friends, peers, and family members. Additionally reports can be made to the following websites:
OCA – Asian Pacific American Advocates – Hate Incident Reporting
Asian Americans Advancing Justice
Asian Pacific Policy & Planning Council – Stop AAPI Hate
Southern Law Poverty Center Reporting
Students have shared with us how vulnerable and targeted they are feeling. We are aware that many of our students are facing unemployment, limited access to health care, and other hardships. We also understand that these experiences, coupled with isolation, may manifest in mental health related concerns as well. We would like you all to know that you do not need to navigate these difficult times alone and that we will stand and work with you to get through this together. If you find yourself feeling disconnected or not supported in your current living arrangements,
please reach out to us. You all are citizens of UConn Nation, and in this nation, we do not discriminate, we do not use a narrative of hate, we are citizens that stand in solidarity with one another. Now is the time for us to be safe, be compassionate and empathetic towards each other, particularly those who have been affected by the COVID-19 virus and be engaged citizens. We would like to remind each and every individual that they are valued and needed in this world. The Cultural Centers staff are available to discuss any COVID-19 concerns you may have.
Asian American Cultural Center Website
African American Cultural Center Website
Puerto Rican/Latin American Cultural Center Website
Rainbow Center Website
Women’s Center Website
On-campus resources and updated information about the COVID-19 virus, can be found