USC students, faculty and administration spoke out against anti-Asian hate and called for support of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the week following the mass shooting in Atlanta, which resulted in the death of eight people, six of whom were women of Asian descent.
“I want to assure you that USC stands with the Asian Pacific Islander Desi American (APIDA) community in vehemently condemning these hate crimes,” President Carol Folt wrote in an email to the USC community on March 19.
Folt provided links to resources including the Office for Equity, Equal Opportunity and Title IX, where community members can report incidents of bias and discrimination, and to support services like USC Student Health, Counseling and Mental Health Services.
Grace Zhang, a freshman studying psychology, was upset with how the university handled the situation.
“In regards to the response from the admin and the school itself, I think they could’ve been a lot more clear and give actions for students to do to educate themselves about what happened and why it happened,” Zhang said. “If I was someone who wasn’t Asian and I read that I would just brush it away, because it didn’t give me anything to do.”
Zhang was shocked that the email didn’t even mention the word “racism.”
In the classroom, Zhang was further disappointed by her professors’ lack of acknowledgement. “I don’t think the faculty and professors have done a great job of really addressing it, really making the students feel like they have a safe space to talk about it,” Zhang said.
Another student, Tian Gan, mentioned that having more AAPI faculty members in high-level positions might “help the current situation.”.
Professors who did speak out against anti-AAPI hate sought to clarify the context in which the mass shooting occurred.
Dorinne Kondo, professor of American studies, ethnicity and anthropology, was one of five faculty members who contributed perspectives to a March 19 university news release.
Kondo wrote that histories of imperialism and orientalism informed the murders.
“This was not the result of one white man’s ‘bad day,’” Kondo said, referencing a controversial comment by a local sheriff’s deputy. “Historical power relations position Asian women as submissive, exotic fetishes who exist to service ‘Western’ men. We need to upend those power structures.”
The days following the shooting have been emotional and troubling ones for many, as hate towards AAPI individuals has been in the headlines of news and the forefront of minds.
“The day after the shooting happened,” Zhang said, “I was definitely having a really bad day.” She recalled how upsetting it was seeing everyone else continue on with their days, acting as if nothing happened.
“It’s definitely hard just seeing all of this just be blasted on the media,” she said. “And see all the people I used to call friends not really say anything at all and just act like everything is normal.”