What can Individuals, Scholars, and Teachers do to Stop Anti-Asian Racism and Rhetoric?

On Wednesday, May 5, 2021 the Coalition hosted an online session called “Witnessing Anti-Asian Racism and Rhetoric: A Speaking and Listening Forum.” Co-facilitated by Jennifer Sano-Franchini, Bo Wang, and Wendy Sharer, the forum began by inviting attendees to share their experiences of Anti-Asian Racism and Rhetoric. We then asked attendees to share their ideas and strategies for confronting this racism and rhetoric.

We know that many people were unable to attend, so we are happy to make these ideas available here. We would also love to expand on these lists by adding ideas and strategies from those who could not attend. Please share your suggestions with Wendy Sharer, President CFSHRC, at president@cfshrc.org and we will gladly add them to this resource.

Please also be sure to check out the list of suggestions for what professional organizations can do to stop violence and harmful rhetoric against AAAPI individuals and communities.

Question: To stop anti-Asian hate, we need both a sustained collective movement and individual actions in our daily lives and work. We would like to hear what everyone has done/is planning to do to help stop this wave of hate. Could you share your work and plans with colleagues attending this session?

  1. Have conversations with family and friends about the bodily presence of self in spaces: actively talk with others about how we perceive and act toward other people. Engaging these issues in conversation and reflect on your own experiences and perceptions in situations involving AAAPI individuals.
  2. Find out about the Asian community in the region/area. Educate ourselves and help our students learn about these regional populations.
  3. Educate ourselves and our students about the history of anti-Asian racism and the ongoing racism and injustice against Asian communities.
  4. Learn more about the history of U.S.-Asia relations and how U.S. colonialism and imperialism in the Asian Pacific region and U.S.’s role in global conflicts have affected Asian migration and displacement. Educate ourselves and our students about the link between U.S. colonialism/imperialism and anti-Asian racism and rhetoric.
  5. Support the AAAPI community in your area/region and intervene when anti-Asian racist incidents happen. Intervene when you see or hear anti-Asian racist rhetoric in public space/discourse. Indifference and silence will help perpetuate anti-Asian racist rhetoric and violence.
  6. Support Asian-led advocacy groups and organizations in their endeavors to fight anti-Asian violence and white supremacy.
  7. Donate to and volunteer for organizations that are working with and for Asian communities.
  8. AAAPI histories, lived experiences, and contributions to society have not been included in textbooks and public memory. Tell stories about AAAPI communities—their histories and accomplishments: make sure it is part of the curriculum to help humanize the community and recognize their contributions.
  9. Stress to colleagues and administrators that knowledge of AAAPI communities, histories, and accomplishments need to be part of everyone’s cultural literacy. This is critical so that non AAAPI people see AAAPI individuals as human beings, not objects or hyper sexualized beings.
  10. Raise questions and be vocal about the fact that the perspectives and concerns of AAAPI communities and individuals need to be prominently addressed in conversations about diversity, equity, and inclusion.
  11. Advocate for the hiring of Asian American/Asia Studies specialist in your programs. Put pressure on upper administration to hire in these areas. Cluster hires, in particular, are a good way to support communities of color.
  12. Pressure administration to move beyond performative anti-racism and to develop a diversity, equity and strategic inclusion framework that should be taken up in individual university/college units to discuss and to craft a plan that is most relevant for and applicable to each area.
  13. Review your programs’ existing curricula and revise it to address gaps in attention to and consideration of AAAPI knowledges.
  14. Mentor AAAPI graduate students and encourage those scholars to pursue their research, particularly if their research projects involve their cultural backgrounds. We need to work with these students even if our departments don’t have an AAAPI faculty member (which, at this point, many do not). Encourage those students to share their research with other faculty and other students.
  15. Identify, engage, and publicize past rhetorical practices, including those that come from personal/family experiences, that intersect with and confront Anti-Asian racism and rhetoric. An example, freely available, comes from the blog of Rhetoric and Composition scholar, Ryan Michael Murphy:
    • “Connecting with Inoue through Antiracist Writing Assessment Ecologies” — https://ryanmurphy.org/connecting-with-inoue/. In this post, Murphy draws on Asao Inoue’s framework for anti-racist writing assessment to consider an autograph book that belonged to his grandmother while she was imprisoned at Tule Lake, a World War 2-era Japanese-American internment camp, as an example of “antiracist multimodal composition.”
  16. Help others address the issue of Anti-Asian racism. In particular, help those in areas, such as an international studies office or international advising office, that might face an undue burden of addressing these issues so that they don’t get all the pressure to change things, particularly at small institutions and at institutions where there are not many AAAPI students.
  17. Consider establishing a committee in the department to promote antiracist pedagogy that focuses on curricular changes and also on rewriting course catalogue descriptions as a way to engage and educate our students.