On Tuesday, March 16, eight people were killed by gunfire in three Atlanta-area massage businesses. Six of those souls were of Asian descent. We grieve with the Asian community in the college, at the university, and across the U.S., and we are angered by the rate of gun violence in our nation. All innocent lives lost to gunfire is a tragedy. It is even more troubling when individuals are targeted because of their racial, ethnic or other identity.
While the authorities say it is still too early to determine if this was a hate crime, it does give us an opportunity to acknowledge the increased trend in hate crimes against Asians living in America and Asian Americans. California State University’s Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism found that anti-Asian American hate crimes in 16 of the U.S.’s most populous cities increased nearly 150% in 2020. We can debate why that is, though can confidently say rhetoric blaming China for “starting” the COVID-19 pandemic has contributed.
As social workers, we have an obligation to practice through evidence. This practice includes our direct work with individuals, families, groups, organizations and communities. Such practice also includes speaking out against bias and untruths, calling out scapegoating, and speaking truth to power. We encourage you to reach out to your friends and colleagues to show your support. We encourage you to fight untruths with facts. And we encourage you to root out injustice wherever it hides.
Please reach out to the Student Health Center if you are in crisis or would like to speak with a counselor or psychiatrist. Please know that we at the college stand with all our Asian students, faculty and staff.
Kirk A. Foster, PhD, MSW, MDiv
Associate Dean for Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion