A hundred years ago (and still), Asian migrants suffered social violence and political exclusion through racial capitalist and immigration policies: After recruiting over a century of Asian migrant labor toward the disciplining of Black labor in the US, the Asiatic Barred Zone followed the heels of the Chinese Exclusion Act in order to limit immigration from Asian countries through racial categories of admissibility. Seven decades ago (and still), the US government interned “suspect” Japanese communities, while it pursued disastrous warfare in East Asia. Less than five decades ago (and still), Southeast Asian migrants of imperial wars experienced American nativist and border violence. In the first two decades of this century (and still), “Muslim-looking” populations have been targets of racial violence while a forever “war on terror” rages on in Asia and in Africa.
Anti-Asian racism—then and now—is an expansion of the foundational racisms of this country: slavery and anti-Black violence, settler colonialism, racial capitalism, and imperial warfare. The disturbing rise of anti-Asian violence must be reckoned with today, while ever clarifying our historical sight and rallying us further toward political solidarity.
Moving forward, our efforts to heal and protect require abolitionist principles. We must renounce, defund, and abolish the police, the military, ICE, and prisons. Neither structural transformation nor abolition, however, will occur without a collective consciousness. Given our location within the university, we seek to offer context and inspire questions that cycle back to the lessons we continue to learn from grassroots organizers: that a demand to end anti-Asian racism is ultimately a demand to end white supremacy; that our response to racist violence may be rooted in de-escalation; that our classrooms may function as sites of mutual aid, nonviolent conflict resolution, and transformative justice.
As we strive to build this world, we follow the lead of student activists—at Dartmouth and beyond—who call on us to declare our campuses as sanctuaries, and to envision cops off campus. Toward these abolitionist and transformative horizons, we follow the Dartmouth Student Union and the Cops Off Campus movement. We are also grateful for the communing and solidarity work of pan-AAPI organizers on campus including at the Asian Pacific Islander Caucus, the Office of Pluralism and Leadership, the Asian and Asian American Living Learning Community, and beyond.
Anna M. Storti, Najwa Mayer, Mingwei Huang, Carolyn Choi, and Yanyi, on behalf of the working group in Asia/America Studies and the Consortium of Studies in Race, Migration, and Sexuality at Dartmouth.