The community of the National Humanities Center grieves the recent wave of anti-Asian violence in communities across the United States, including the mass murder of eight people in Atlanta, Georgia, on March 16, 2021. We condemn these acts of violence as well as the racism and xenophobia that motivate them, recognizing how such attitudes insinuate themselves into the fabric of our society, poison it, and produce suffering for untold victims of aggression and discrimination.
As humanists, we are all too aware of the long history of anti-Asian violence and racist attitudes that have beset our country and believe that it is vital that this history be widely taught and understood to help eliminate it.
Over the years, we have been privileged to support the efforts of many gifted scholars and educators working to reveal and contextualize anti-Asian, anti-immigrant, and white supremacist attitudes in our society. Their work offers important educational resources. Specific support for teachers includes a collection of archival materials and resources on the 1924 Immigration Restriction Act and webinars on the history of Asian Americans by Professor Erika Lee from the University of Minnesota and on the “yellow peril” that has permeated film and popular culture by Professor Sylvia Chong from the University of Virginia. I encourage you to read, watch, listen, and share these resources.
Addressing the complex flaws in our national consciousness must grow from a willingness to learn about one another, to appreciate cultural differences, and to more fully embrace the values that bind us together. The National Humanities Center remains committed to supporting this important work. We join our voice with those of others to protest the words and actions of those who propagate dangerous and divisive rhetoric about Asians, Pacific Islanders, and Asian Americans. And we rededicate ourselves to helping enact the change necessary to create a just and equitable society for all.
Robert D. Newman
President and Director, National Humanities Center
Friday, March 19, 2021