The Duke Asian Alumni Alliance (DAAA), Duke Black Alumni (DBA), Duke University Hispanic/Latino American Association (DUHLAA), Duke LGBTQ+ Network, and Duke Atlanta denounce any type of bias, racism and violence that impact the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community. We are alarmed by the increasing number of incidents against Asian and Asian-Americans throughout the United States and the recent tragic murders in Georgia. We are even more concerned with the silence around longstanding hate and bias against the AAPI community.
Sadly, anti-Asian bias and violence is not new in this country. The Chinese Massacre of 1871 in Los Angeles where at least 17 Chinese men and boys were killed was one of the first outbreaks of mass violence against Asian Americans.1 Congress passed the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 which banned Chinese immigration for 20 years on the theory that Chinese people were taking “American jobs”.2 This was the first law placing restrictions on immigration to the United States, and was not fully repealed until 1943.3 Of course, there is the sad and shameful legacy of Japanese internment during World War II.
In more recent history, after 9/11, South Asians in particular were targets of suspicion, bias and in some cases violence.4
And we must never forget the brutal murder of Vincent Chin on June 19, 1982. Mr. Chin was a 27 year-old Chinese American who was about to marry and was celebrating with friends in Detroit. Two white men picked a bar fight, blaming Chin (who was Chinese) for “the Japanese” taking their auto-industry jobs. Outside the bar, the men beat Mr. Chin with a baseball bat and he died several days later.5 The men pled guilty to manslaughter, which carried a possible maximum sentence of 15 years, and received probation and a $3,000 fine.6
Why do we take the time to recount this history? Because for too long society has been silent when it comes to anti-Asian violence. Silence = complicity, and we will no longer be silent.
Anti-Asian violence has surged recently because of the coronavirus. For example, last year in New York City, the NYPD reported that anti-Asian hate crimes increased 1900%.7 While that percentage increase alone is stunning, most hate crimes in this country are underreported. Given that Asian Americans are often overlooked in the media and popular culture, particularly around issues of race, we are committed to come together and amplify AAPI voices, while dispelling the “Model Minority” stereotype, which contributes to a lack of real understanding and empathy for the plight of Asian Americans.
In this year of reckoning around systemic racism, it is critical that the AAPI community be centered in that debate, along with other racial and ethnic minority groups. People of good will must work together to educate and organize within all of the important institutions in this country: the political system, the media, law enforcement and civil society to say loudly and clearly that hate and bias against Asian Americans will not be tolerated. Full stop. We stand with all who are committed to ending racism and stopping the spread of hate. We also call on the Duke community to stand in solidarity with alumni, students, friends and colleagues who have often suffered in silence.
We stand for you and with you.
We look forward to continued dialogue with the Duke community. #StopAsianHate
Aruna Inalsingh M.B.A.’95 and Mathavi Strasburger ’10
Sanders Adu ’94 and Tadena Simpson ’05
Ricardo Duque M.B.A.’06 and Tatiana Salvador ’90
Alex Osmond ’09 and Brooke Levin ’06, M.B.A.’18, M.E.M.’18
Duke LGBTQ+ Network Co-Chairs
Alex Miller ’12, Leslie Myrie, Jr. ’01, and Benjamin Van Der Horst M.B.A’13
Duke Atlanta Regional Co-Chairs
1See Gillian Brockell, The long, ugly history of anti-Asian racism and violence in the U.S. WASHINGTON POST, March 18, 2021. https://www.washingtonpost.com/history/2021/03/18/history-anti-asian-violence-racism/.
4See Agnes Constante, Anti-South Asian Hate Crimes During Election Mirrored ‘Year After 9/11’: Report, NBC NEWS, Jan. 11, 2017. https://www.nbcnews.com/news/amp/ncna705796.
5Gillian Brockell, The long, ugly history of anti-Asian racism and violence in the U.S., WASHINGTON POST, March 18, 2020.