Standing Together Against Racism and Anti-Asian Hate
Dear Western Community:
Despite all the difficulties of enduring the COVID-19 pandemic in the past year, one of the unexpected outcomes of social distancing and a downregulated economy seemed to be a hiatus in mass shootings. That relative peace was broken this week by a gunman’s rampage in the Atlanta area that killed eight people, including six women of Asian descent. This would be a horrific act under any circumstances, but in the context of increasing anti-Asian violence, harassment, and bigotry, it is part of an increasingly common pattern that we must condemn in the strongest terms. Our hearts go out not only to the families and communities of Atlanta directly affected by this horrendous event, but also to Asian, Asian American, and Pacific Islander communities across the country, in the Pacific Northwest, and in Bellingham, who face racism. Anti-Asian hate has had a disgracefully long history in this country and in Bellingham itself, and it is up to us, wherever we live, to come together to stand against all forms of bigotry that lead to this kind of violence.
If you witness or are aware of racist incidents, please speak up and report them. If you have experienced discrimination or harassment, Western’s Office of Civil Rights is also here to help. I also urge you to take time for self-care in the wake of these events, and Western’s support systems, including the Counseling Center and the Employee Assistance Program are open and available, even at a distance. Western’s Bias Response Team is planning support events and actions as well.
I have said before and I repeat: Violent acts of racism have no place in our society or at Western. Wherever you happen to be, I encourage you to reflect on ways that we can support members of our community who are suffering right now, and on our shared responsibilities to create communities that respect the fundamental dignity and humanity of all its members.