Dear Lurie College students,
Last week we witnessed the murders of eight people, six of whom were Asian American women, at the hands of a young white male gunman in Atlanta. We also witnessed statements from law enforcement officials that appeared to excuse the atrocities of the gunman and failed to acknowledge the humanity of the victims. These events bring into sharp focus, once again, the depth of racism, white supremacy, and misogyny in our society.
Our college stands in solidarity with our Asian Pacific Islander Desi American students, faculty, staff, alumni, and communities. The events in Atlanta last week were not isolated incidents. Over the past year, many in our Lurie College community have directly experienced the impact of an increase in anti-Asian violence and oppression. Violent actions, hate-filled language, negative stereotypes, and the failure to value the full humanity of APIDA individuals and communities have direct and long lasting harm.
As a College of Education committed to preparing transformative educators, counselors, therapists, school and community leaders it is critical that we confront anti-Asian hate and that we recognize the historical and contemporary context linking anti-Asian hate with anti-Black and anti-immigrant racism as a way to maintain existing hierarchies of BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) oppression and white supremacy. We need to support our Lurie College students, staff, and faculty; we need to call out structural racism and injustice and advocate for institutional and systemic change; and we need to equip our students with knowledge and skills to champion diversity, equity, and inclusion in their academic and professional careers.
In conversations with our students, staff, and faculty this past week, I heard pain, fear, anger, and frustration. The depth of enmity in our society and its horrific manifestations can – and should – shock us. Sometimes we are left feeling impotent because the challenges are so big. But in these conversations I also heard hope. I was reminded, once again, that our work matters; that we have an incredibly dedicated and supportive community in our college; that as individuals we have more power than we sometimes realize; and that collectively we can make a real and substantive difference.
In the final presentation of our Emancipatory Education Speaker Series this past Friday, March 19, we were very fortunate to be joined by University of Alaska Professor of Psychology, Dr. E.J.R. David. In his talk, “Emancipatory Education: Healing the Damages of a Sick World”, Dr. David shared personal stories about growing up in the Philippines and later moving to the U.S., and outlined a framework for how we can create a healing educational system that fosters connection, community, and well-being. It was a powerful talk that spoke directly to our current moment. I would encourage you to take time to watch the video as you consider how we move forward, individually and communally, to combat hate and create healing.
Members of SJSU’s APIDA community are invited to participate in a processing space on Monday, March 22, from 7:00-8:30pm. The space is supported by the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion; Counseling and Psychological Services; the Mosaic Cross-Cultural Center; and the APID/A Task Force. RSVP via the Zoom registration webpage. Lurie College students are also encouraged to reach out to our Lurie College Student Success Center with any questions, concerns, or requests for support.
In solidarity — Heather