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Community Learning

Strengthening Community and Connections

Addressing Anti-Asian Racism

A Statement from Tracie D. Jones, Director of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging 
March 2021

Dear HGSE Community:

Dealing with the unforeseen challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has taken a significant toll on everyone. We have been forced to alter the pace, fabric, and nature of our lives, which can lead to symptoms such as sleeplessness, anxiety, depression, and feeling overwhelmed. During these times, it is especially important for us to prioritize our well-being and support one another individually and collectively. 
We also realize that this is a time during which existing societal inequities have been exacerbated, and members of multiple identity groups have been targeted with harm. Among the Pan-Asian community, misinformation and the politicization of COVID-19 have caused anxiety and stress. Additionally, many of us have become increasingly aware of the violence being inflicted on Asian-American elders across the United States and especially in the Bay Area. 
The hateful acts of violence we are seeing are both intolerable and inconsistent with the values of HGSE. We condemn violence against any group and for any reasons, and we know these events are especially harmful in the midst of the turmoil we have all been experiencing. As we encourage kindness and compassion, we also urge support of those in the Asian community and any other targeted communities. 
Beyond the U.S., many of our community members are in countries that are experiencing civil unrest, natural disasters, and other extremely traumatic events. To date over 110 countries have already experienced significant protest in 2021, impacting every facet of our colleagues’ day to day lives. I urge you to take the time to learn about the challenges being faced by communities around the world and to lend support to those who are currently navigating these tense developments as they balance their HGSE studies. 

HGSE and the greater Harvard community is committed to fostering a virtual campus culture where everyone can thrive by ensuring a campus-wide sense of inclusion and belonging. By acknowledging and working to thoughtfully address these issues we will reinforce our commitment to equity, inclusion, and belonging and display a strong show of support for our most vulnerable community members. 
In the article, Addressing Anti-Asian Attacks with Transformative Justice, author, Michelle Kim, shares with us, “at a time when multiple traumas are converging and so much suffering is simultaneously witnessed, we need cross-community solidarity more than ever to fight for our collective healing and liberation from all forms of violence.” Xenophobia and racism are issues we all must address, and it is important that those of us who aren’t being targeted support those facing discrimination by being an ally whenever we can.  

Here are some things you can do to help: 

  • Speak up in response to racist comments and acts.   
  • Interrupt harmful interactions between the person making racist comments or actions and the victim, whether in person or virtually.  
  • Notice when we ourselves have engaged in actions that maintain discrimination and prejudice.  

If you have been the target of racism, here are some suggestions for you to navigate the experience: 

  • Recognize experiences of racism are real and not you are being “oversensitive.” 
  • Be in community, reach out for support, and do not suffer in silence. 
  • Talk to a trusted friend or mental health professional. 
  • Report racist or bias incidents. 
  • Connect to resources, such as those listed below. 

Tracie D.  Jones
Director of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging