The School of Communication Statement on
Anti-Asian Racism

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

The School of Communication decries the mass shooting of the eight women and men killed on March 16, 2021, in Atlanta, Georgia. We are greatly saddened by the loss of each person and recognize the devastating impact of this tragedy on their loved ones and communities, as well as on all racialized communities.

  • Soon Chung Park, age 74
  • Suncha Kim, age 69
  • Yong Ae Yue, age 63
  • Paul Andre Michels, age 54
  • Hyun Jung Grant, age 51
  • Xiaojie Tan, age 49
  • Daoyou Feng, age 44
  • Delaina Ashley Yaun, age 33

These individuals were targeted because of the killer’s and Western society’s racism and misogyny against women of Asian heritage and im/migrant communities, exacerbated by the hateful rhetoric around the COVID-19 pandemic.

While this atrocity took place in the United States, anti-Asian racism crosses borders with popular media and digital platforms intensifying the circulation of hate and violence. Racist attacks are on the rise today in Canada: the Vancouver Police Department reported a staggering 717% rise in anti-Asian hate crimes from 2019 to 2020. The School of Communication recognizes that anti-Asian racism extends beyond attitudes and media representations. Anti-Asian racism and violence are rooted in the legacy of colonialism, military occupation, war, and genocidal policies, as well as systemic dependencies on hyper-exploited populations whose labour provides everything from food and electronics, to domestic labour in an environmentally destructive capitalist system.

Historically, Canada was a settler colony that depended on Asian migrants—especially here in British Columbia—to build the infrastructure necessary for an economy based on resource extraction in the unceded territories of hundreds of sovereign First Nations. Canada saw Asian migrants, along with Indigenous peoples and Black communities, as a threat to an imagined white settler nation that depended on the land, labour, and enslavement of these communities. In the early 20th century, for instance, the federal government designed laws to stop the immigration of Chinese Canadians and South Asians and restricted the rights of those who managed to secure citizenship status, while it used the War Measures Act in the 1940s in an attempt to remove “all people of Japanese racial origin” from Canada. Discourses about “the yellow peril” that were historically deployed to incite hate and fear continue today, as do exclusionary laws, institutions and programs like the Temporary Foreign Workers Program.

All of this strikes at the heart of SFU as an institution, whose classroom and programs rely on the experiences and expertise of Asian-identifying students, staff and faculty. We are committed to the empowerment of Asian-identifying members of our communities and solidarity with Indigenous, Black, Muslim and other communities of colour who have been targets of invasive surveillance, police violence, incarceration, mass shooting, murder, and genocidal policies. Amid the momentum of online activism and street protests galvanized by efforts against anti-Asian violence and discrimination, we urge recognition of difference—of how racism, Islamophobia and colonialism articulate across our intersectional differences. The School of Communication is planning a forum for our community to discuss anti-Asian racism in the coming weeks. We are also planning events and conversations in Fall 2021 to continue the work of intersectional forms of solidarity and allyship in support of ongoing activism, research and teaching towards social justice, anti-racism and decolonization.

Resources on Anti-Asian Racism

SFU Public Square on Anti-Asian Racism during the Pandemic

CBC News report on Anti-Asian Violence in Canada

Chinese Canadian National Council for Social Justice

SFU’s Digital Democracies Institute, SFU’s School of Communication and the Canadian Association of Cultural Studies have generously offered to support the anti-racist and decolonizing programming.

This statement is written by Asian-identifying faculty members in Simon Fraser University’s School of Communication and supported by with input from the School’s Indigenous, Black and People of Colour (IBPOC) Working Group with the support of the following signatories (additional names will be added as we receive them):

Aleena Leng An Chia
Sun-ha Hong
Kirsten Emiko McAllister
Siyuan Yin
Dal Yong Jin
Wendy Hui Kyong Chun
Yuezhi  Zhao
Daniel Ahadi
Karrmen Crey
Adel Iskandar 
Sami Lee
Zed Chia
Alison Beale
Davina Bhandar
Peter Chow-White
Zoë Druick
Brenda Baldwin
Ellen Balka
Cait McKinney
Alberto Toscano
Emma Keeler-Dugas
Andrew Feenberg
Manjeet Gill
Michael Griffith
Shane Gunster
Christopher Jeschelnik
Frederik Lesage
Enda Brophy
Milena Droumeva
Stuart Poyntz
Sarah Ganter
Steven Malcic
Jason Congdon
Ahmed Al-Rawi
Peter Anderson
Katherine Reilly
Audrey Ling
Liesl Jurock
Sara Sethna