The Foghorn stands in solidarity with members of the Asian community who have been impacted by the recent discrimination, xenophobia, and violence against Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) people. There has been an escalation of targeted anti-Asian racism in the past year, culminating in the devastating Atlanta shooting. We recognize that this violence has affected many USF students, staff, and faculty.
Anti-Asian racism has always existed in this country, but the pandemic has provided a twisted justification for many to voice and act on their racist views. It is vital we discuss how and why racism towards Asians has escalated with the rise of COVID-19.
We believe that the way former President Donald Trump chose to frame the COVID-19 pandemic as the “China virus” when it first hit the U.S. vilified people of Chinese descent in the eyes of many Americans. This framing permitted Trump’s administration to not take responsibility for how it responded to the pandemic by pinning it on another country.
For the several members on staff who are of Asian descent, the recent attacks have been difficult to process and have manifested into anger. The attacks have brought about feelings of anxiety and trepidation, not just for staff members, but for their families, too. They expressed how terrifying it is to look at the news and see people who look like their grandparents, aunts, and uncles being violently attacked in Chinatowns and other majority Asian communities across the country.
The attacks also highlight how little people know about the history of Asian Americans in the United States. What’s been taking place is merely another racist chapter in America’s history, so it was a mischaracterization on President Joe Biden’s part to say these attacks are “un-American.” These attacks are merely an abrasive reminder of the ignorance and racism that are still prevalent in our society, and of the lengths people will go to to express their hatred. Asians and Asian Americans are the victims of a long history of bigotry that includes being the first and only ethinc group to be excluded from immigration, one of the worst mass lynchings in America, internment camps, colonialism and bombardment of their countries, cartoon caricatures, and fetishization of Asian women. To say this is “un-American” is turning a blind eye to our history.
So we ask: What will it take to foster a better racial landscape when it comes to anti-Asian hate? Better education and coverage in the media of the AAPI community are two important steps that will combat anti-Asian hate. People are conditioned to be afraid of the “other,” and AAPIs are not represented well enough in entertainment and politics.
We must listen to the voices of those being affected to better understand how we can combat the issue. However, once the Asian community has spoken, it is not enough to leave their words in the air — we must all do the heavy lifting.
We applaud Fitzgerald for issuing a statement March 17 after the Atlanta shootings, but USF must hire more AAPI staff and professors and offer more AAPI-focused classes. These changes will introduce more students to AAPI culture and history, including those of Asian descent. Though USF does offer Asian ethnic courses and programs, which is still uncommon in American higher education writ-large, there is only one professor, James Zarsadiaz, who offers an Asian American History class. Lastly, we should offer an Asian Pacific American Studies major. While we do offer a minor, USF is one of the few colleges in the Bay Area and in California that does not offer an Asian American Studies major, which is unacceptable for a school which prides itself on diversity.