The Observer: Lecture discusses anti-Asian violence and discrimination

Author: Mia Moran

The Liu Institute for Asia and Asian Studies and the Gender Studies Program co-hosted a roundtable discussion on the Atlanta shooting to examine anti-Asian violence and discrimination last Thursday.

The event was co-sponsored by six other organizations: Department of American Studies, Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures, Department of History, Klau Center for Civil and Human Rights, Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies and Association of Graduate Historians.

Christine Cox, Liu Institute assistant director for programs and strategy said the campus response has been positive.

“A lot of people on campus are invested in this conversation which is so heartening,” Cox said.

The event was formatted as a roundtable discussion featuring six Asian women with differing areas of expertise.

Participants were Jennifer Huynh, assistant professor of American studies; Xian Wang, assistant professor of East Asian Languages and Cultures and gender studies; Sharon Yoon, assistant professor of Korean Studies; Lailatul Fitriyah, doctoral theology student; Grace Song, doctoral history student; and Flora Tang, doctoral student in peace studies, theology and gender studies.

Michel Hockx, director of the Liu Institute said the panel was unprecedented.

“I cannot imagine that there has ever been a panel event that this university had featuring six women that are six Asian women,” Hockx said.

Cox responded, “We wanted to center the voices of women, and we wanted to center the voices of Asian women.”

Mary Celeste Kearney, Gender Studies Program director and associate professor of Film, Television and Theater explained that the event arose as numerous people approached the Liu Institute after the Atlanta shooting that targeted and killed eight Asian women, injuring a ninth.

“[The event] probably happened as a result of an incredible uptick of Asian and Asian American violence within the United States as a result of ongoing racism within our country,” Kearney said. “But also as a result of former president Trump’s constant messaging of the ‘China virus’.”

The six panelists shared how the Atlanta shooting affected them and what they intended to gain and share from the roundtable discussion.

The history of Asian and Asian American violence in the United States was also discussed, touching on the model minority myth, which is the overgeneralization the all Asians are successful or have no reason to feel discriminated against.

As Huynh said, the model minority myth is “used as a tactic to divide us,” “rooted in anti-blackness” and “missing in history.”

The event also covered topics including alienation of Asians, who are often excluded as foreigners, the harm of positive stereotypes, intersectionality, Christian legacy and future, Asian fetishization and media violence.

Specifically, Yoon discussed how the perpetuator of the Atlanta shooting was humanized, while there was a the lack of dignity surrounding the victims’ lives.

Yoon said, “We feel sorry [for the victims] because of the model minority stereotype.”

She also said that we need to hold the media responsible for the minority narratives they paint, including those of Black people.

The event concluded with an audience question and answer session that focused on solidarity with the Asian and Asian-American community in order to bring about change.

Kearney said that the past year put a large focus on anti-racist justice on campus and in American society around Black people, “which is understandable,” but hopes that the event demonstrated how the issue is more than Black and White.

“The Atlanta shooting raises the issue that racism within the United States is far more complex than a Black-White issue,” Kearney said.

A second, more formal event will be held April 29 from 5:30 p.m., discussing the “Histories of Anti-Asian Violence: Politics, Gender and Resistance.”


Original piece published in The Observer at