The members of the Professional Staff Congress/CUNY condemn the murder of eight working people—including six Asian women—at Asian-owned spas on March 16. Their names are: Soon C. Park, Hyun J. Grant, Suncha Kim, Yong A. Yue, Xiaojie Tan, Daoyou Feng, Delaina Yaun and Paul Andre Michels. We join anti-racists across CUNY and around the world in opposing anti-Asian racism and committing ourselves to organize against it. We refuse to be complicit in normalizing oppression or in challenging it only when it takes the form of physical violence. Racism against Asians, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders must stop.
More than 2,000 members of our union are Asians, Asian Americans or Pacific Islanders. PSC members serve a student population that is more than 20 percent Asian. Together, we must confront the reality that members of our own community are regularly subject to xenophobia and to a unique version of white supremacy in the form of Orientalism, despite the centuries-long history of Asians in the United States. After a year that has laid bare the lethal inequities of systemic racism, anti-Asian racism must no longer be denied.
The mass murder in Atlanta is not an isolated incident and cannot be seen as the work of an individual pathology. It is deeply embedded in systems and ideologies of racism, misogyny and Orientalism that have long histories in this country and that have been mobilized in terrifying ways during the pandemic. The frequency of racist and misogynist attacks, including multiple incidents of anti-Asian violence in the days since the mass murder in Atlanta, forces us to understand them as part of a history of domestic terror. Violent attacks against Asians and Asian Americans in the United States have increased exponentially since the start of the pandemic, and the majority of these attacks have been against Asian American women. New York City, which so often congratulates itself on its diversity, has seen the biggest spike in anti-Asian violence in 2020 of any American city.
As educators in a university that serves primarily working-class students of color, we must oppose the ideologies that enable racism and misogyny, ideologies that came together murderously in Atlanta. We also have a responsibility that goes beyond the university to interrogate the outcomes of our educational system. As unionists, we must expose the history of exploitation of Asian labor in this country and what Professor Lok Siu of Berkeley calls “the chain of exclusion acts” that stretch from the Page Act of 1875 to the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 to the internment camps of World War II to the Cold War to Donald Trump’s travel bans.
The members of the PSC come together at this urgent time to renew our opposition to anti-Asian racism and extend our support to each other and our students. We commit ourselves to imagining a solidarity that would protect and care for those whose reality is oppression. We seek to build on that solidarity at CUNY as we transform our own work through active anti-racism and engage in larger projects of anti-racist transformation.
The PSC encourages members to also read this statement by the Asian American / Asian Research Institute.