UWG’s Center for Diversity and Inclusion hosted a panel, “Stop Asian Hate: Healing and Action After Atlanta Shooting,” on March 25, responding to the recent shooting perpetuating Asian discrimination and hate. The event was held live through Zoom and was available to all of the university’s students and faculty. The panel featured a plethora of speakers, including Stephanie Chalifoux, Steve Goodsen, Mai Mills, Yan Yang, Taimyr Strachan-Louider, Nisha Gupta and Sharmistha Basu-Dutt.
The event started with each panelist providing a short synopsis in their particular field of specialization or study to reflect on the events of the Atlanta shooting. The panelists covered an array of topics such as Asian hate crimes, Asian American case studies, Asian stereotypes, university counseling services and more. Throughout the course of the event, attendees were given allotted time to ask questions from the panelists.
Stephanie Chalifoux, a UWG Associate History Professor, covered stereotypes regarding hypersexualization of Asian American women in the United States and how these stereotypes coincide with the Atlanta shootings.
“Asian American women or women of Asian descent are both somewhat hypersexualized and also submissive and we need to understand where this is forming,” said Chalifoux. “It’s formed through these laws, through these acts, these legal codes, but it’s also forming in this notion of what is cultural difference in the United States and what is immigration.
“The fetishization of Asian Women and sexual desire for Asian Women, it is not an addiction,” continued Chalifoux. “But it’s a stereotype that’s constantly sort of reinforcing this notion of Asian Women being sort of sexually available, sort of for the taking. So I think it’s important for us to kind of understand some of this context, so we can understand what happened in Atlanta or make sense of what happened in Atlanta.”
Other panelists such as Mai Naito Mills, an Associate Professor of Criminology at UWG, comparatively utilized narrative anecdotes to communicate the unrightful crimes being perpetrated against Asian Americans. In his speech, Mills references a specific instance in which an Asian American was unjustly represented within the criminal justice system.
“As we have had many tragic incidents of violent attacks of Asians in recent times, one of the cases that really stuck out to me was the killing of Vincent Chin who was beaten to death by two white men in Detroit back in 1982,” said Mills. “The perpetrators were charged with second degree murder, but ultimately they both played, to a lesser charge of manslaughter. They were sentenced to three years probation and a $3,000 fine. Neither of them served any prison time.”
While numerous injustices and discriminatory acts performed against Asian Americans were discussed throughout the panel in order to address the Atlanta hate crime, panelists such as UWG Professor Dr. Yan Yang described a hopeful future for Asian Americans. She expressed to event participants that acts such as these are inspiring unity and strength in the Asian community.
“This is a very difficult time, with so many crimes, so much hatred, so much violence, but I find Asians are more united than ever,” said Yang. “I feel like this minority group is finally waking up. We’re no longer the silent ones that just put our heads down and work hard. We unite together and make our voices heard, and this is manifesting throughout the nation in the national demonstration against anti-Asian violence.”
Dr. Taimyr Strachan-Louider, a Marriage and Family Therapist at the University Counseling Center, also spoke at the event to remind students and faculty of their available resources of support through the campus.
“I realize that in this virtual time many students may not know that we are still here and we are still sources of support for them, and so at the Counseling Center, you will find licensed professional counselors who work with an array of presenting issues,” said Strachan-Louider. “I have heard concerns about whether or not counselors are able to address cultural issues, and I would like to say that we do receive that type of training to meet the needs of each of our students here.”
While discriminatory hate crimes against minorities are prevalent within the American culture, several of the panelists expressed the hope that can result from such tragedies.
“I think I see a lot of hope and a lot of light, and more importantly, I see a lot of social awareness and that’s why we’re here today. I see all this attendance, and I’m very encouraged,” said Yang. “Even this panel is a manifestation of how we’re all coming together, regardless of our skin color, to combat racism to raise awareness of the hardships the Asian population is going through in this country and as an education initiative.”
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