Department of Anthropology, University of Toronto, Statement Against Anti-Asian Racism and Misogynistic Violence

The Department of Anthropology expresses its grief for and anger over the loss of the eight people murdered Tuesday, March 16, 2021 in Atlanta. Their names are Delaina Ashley Yaun, Paul Andre Michels, Xiaojie Tan, Daoyou Feng, Soon C. (Julie) Park, Suncha Kim, Yong Yue, and Hyeon Jeong Park Grant. Six of those killed were Asian-American and seven were women. These killings must be named for what they are: expressions of hate, anti-Asian discrimination, misogyny, and white supremacy. It must also be recognized that the hyper-sexualization of Asian women, violence against Asian women, and the refusal to name hate crimes against Asian women as such are a continued manifestation of over one hundred years of government-sanctioned exclusion, stigmatization, and violence against Asian communities in the United States and Canada.

In response to these murders, the Asian-Canadian Women’s Alliance has issued a statement noting that “anti-Asian hate crimes have spiked in Canada at a higher per capita rate than the US,” especially against women of Asian descent. Our condemnation of this violence thus calls for a continued, collective, and urgent commitment to anti-racist and anti-sexist work, particularly in Canada. 

Furthermore, generations of anthropological study demonstrates that sexuality is a central part of the human experience, and we affirm that sex work is work. We join our colleagues in UofT Sexual Diversity Studies in asserting that the criminalization of sex work leads to violence against sex workers or those assumed to be sex workers, and “Anti-sex trafficking measures in both the U.S. and Canada already escalate violence against immigrant women, while simultaneously facilitating the policing and surveillance of marginalized communities.”

We stand in solidarity with students, colleagues, and community members of Asian descent and call on those who are not of Asian descent to serve as allies and advocates in the struggle against racism, violence, and misogyny, particularly as they have been exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic. As educators, we have a particularly important role to play as we prepare the next generation of students for their role in challenging all form of violence, including racial and gender violence. As a department we commit to anti-racist and anti-misogynistic pedagogy and to transparency in the methods by which we follow through on this commitment.