MLL Statement on Anti-Asian Violence
We are outraged by the spate of anti-Asian violence, hatred and terror spewed upon our community across the United States. This violence no doubt has spiked over the past four years, while few on either side of the aisle did anything to stop it. The Department of Modern Languages and Literatures at W&M takes an unequivocal stance by condemning these acts of misogyny and racism publicly. We also stand with our Asian and Asian American colleagues, friends and community members at W&M and support the statements, actions and demands of the Asian and Pacific Islander Program.
For too long, Asian Americans have been the targets of state sanctioned racism in this country, including on our campus. This history and reality of anti-Asian structural violence has deep roots in the United States, from the Chinese Exclusion Act, to the annexation of Hawaii and the continued disenfranchisement of the Hawaiian people, to the colonization of the Philippines, to Japanese internment camps to continued sexual violence against women in Okinawa. We understand anti-Asian racism as a part of larger racist structures of white supremacy in the United States, which includes the hyper-sexualization of self-identified, and those perceived as, Asian women.
The violence against Asian women in Atlanta is not an aberration but is the result of casual disregard for Asians that groomed the majority of US citizens to dehumanize us. We say no more to this. We demand justice. We demand the dismantling of toxic masculinist white supremacy that is expressed most readily toward the most vulnerable in the Asian American community, including sex workers and the elderly.
We call on W&M to not only express solidarity with Asian American communities. Rather, we demand of our university and the W&M community to actively reject and confront anti-Asian racism but also anti-Black racism and sexual violence that perpetuate white supremacy and toxic masculinity.
We release this statement with utmost conviction to honor those senselessly murdered in Atlanta yesterday and our siblings and elders who have been attacked in recent weeks but also to empower Asian American communities to act boldly in defense of all those vulnerable to white supremist and misogynistic (including anti-trans) violence.
As the first languages and literatures department in the country, we are mindful of the power of language and speech in making the world more dangerous or just. We therefore denounce the assault on free-and-fair elections and democratic institutions that occurred at the United States Capitol on January 6, 2021. We, as faculty and global citizens, understand our responsibility in being vigilant in combating all forms of racism, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, sexism, cis-heteronormativity and ableism.
In accordance with The Faculty of Arts & Sciences, The Department of Modern Languages and Literatures (MLL) “values inclusiveness most highly and believes that diversity is critical to equity and the pursuit of academic excellence. Our goal is to create and sustain an environment in which diversity can thrive. A diverse faculty, student body, administration, and curriculum together foster learning and enhance excellence. We seek to promote an environment of inclusion and to maintain a safe, nurturing community that is respectful of our differences and what we share.”
MLL defines diversity as encompassing differences in age, cultural identity, ethnicity, language, gender, faith, ability and disability, neurological make up (neurodiversity), geographic background, military experience (veterans), political and ideological perspectives, race, sexual orientation, and social and economic status. MLL promotes cultural and linguistic diversity on campus and in our communities and encourages the learning of languages. We raise awareness of language-specific knowledges and cultures. We stand for language rights as articulated in the Universal Declaration of Linguistic Rights. We foster students’ and faculty’s ability to express themselves in many different languages, and to introduce and insert language diversity into public spaces in written and spoken form. We see ourselves as a space of language difference and inclusion on the W&M campus and in the community. We are building a future where cultural and linguistic diversity are viewed as invaluable assets that enrich the lives of all. *
MLL affirms W&M's Land Acknowledgement. We also include the following statement in every syllabus:
William & Mary occupies the ancestral lands of the Powhatan people. In 1677, near our historic campus, the Pamunkey leader, Cockacoeske, negotiated Articles of Peace, with England, on behalf of several indigenous tribes. We acknowledge the Native youths who attended the Brafferton Indian School in the eighteenth century. At present we acknowledge and honor Virginia's seven federally recognized tribes and the Commonwealth's four state-recognized tribes. William & Mary acknowledges that it owned and exploited slave labor from its founding to the Civil War; and that it had failed to take a stand against segregation during the Jim Crow Era.
* See the 2016 ACTFL statement.