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Statement on the Atlanta Shootings

Statement on the Atlanta Shootings

The Department of English denounces the March 16th Atlanta shootings, during which eight people were murdered, including six women of Asian descent. We share in the sorrow and outrage that has been expressed by the loved ones of the victims and by so many Asians, Asian Americans, and Pacific Islanders in the United States. We also recognize law enforcement’s portrayal of the shooter’s actions—a “bad day” amid ongoing mental health struggles—as an ableist conflation of mental illness with misogyny and racism.

While the pandemic has undoubtedly contributed to anti-Asian violence, anti-Asian racism and hate crimes against Asians and Asian Americans reflect an historical and ongoing reality under mechanisms of white supremacy in North America. Discourses of exclusion and model minority stereotyping have worked to minimize and erase the oppressions experienced by Asian and Asian American communities. Women in these communities have been increasingly targeted during the current pandemic, further contributing to the routinized dehumanization, objectification, sexualization, fetishization, and exploitation of Asian and Asian American women. For insight into these longstanding forms of violence, we recommend these resources compiled by Jennifer Ho, president of the Association of Asian American Studies.

We stand in solidarity with Asians, Asian Americans, and Pacific Islanders, both here at Penn State and in our broader (inter)national communities, in the ongoing fight against anti-Asian racism and violence. Given the law enforcement and legal systems’ histories of surveilling, criminalizing, and deporting sex workers by carrying out raids at Asian massage parlors, we support community-based responses to hate violence while drawing attention to the systemic causes of racialized and gendered forms of oppression.

The Department of English remains committed to dismantling white supremacy, colonialism, and misogyny as cultural, social, and political foundations of the United States. We will continue to support and center pedagogy, research, and advocacy that works toward these ends.