In the wake of the murderous attack on Asian American women in Atlanta, Ga., and incidents of hate that include physical assault, civil rights violations, and harassment of several thousand Asian Americans and Asians in the United States, the Duke History community condemns the scapegoating and ethnic-based and racial hatred that has proliferated in this country over the last year.
As historians, we have studied the emergence and reproduction of racist ideas in this country and across the globe. We know the long-enduring impact of bigotry and racism that have targeted Asians and Asian American people since the mid-nineteenth century, unleashing hurt and harm.
We especially condemn the hypersexualization of Asian and Asian American women that is rooted in white supremacy, Orientalism and imperialism. The 1875 Page Act, for example, aimed to stem the immigration “of any subject of China, Japan, or any Oriental country, to the United States,” and fueled stereotypes against Asian women configured in the act as women who came for “ lewd and immoral purposes.” This was followed by a series of other measures such as the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, the Immigration Act of 1917 and Immigration (Johnson-Reed) Act of 1924, and the internment of Japanese-origin American citizens during World War II.
We include in our indictment recent leaders who have stoked the fires of racial and ethnic hatred. Anti-Asian exclusionary racism has many of its roots in the refusal of a white political order to accept full citizenship and just economic conditions for Black citizens. Therefore, with our fellow citizens, we both pledge to fight against anti-Asian racism and reaffirm our commitment to fight against anti-Black racism and for racial justice for all. We acknowledge the existence of systemic racism as well as overt racial hatred, and pledge to battle it in all forms, be they global or local. We must continue this work by confronting the endemic racism and misogyny that have manifested most recently in attacks on the Asian and Asian American population in the United States.
As teachers and learners, we commit to educating ourselves and others through forums and other programming dedicated to uncovering and analyzing the extensive history of disdain and systemic racial and gender hatred and discrimination.
March 24, 2021