Susan Hoffman

Dear OLLI Community,

All of us have been shocked and appalled by the recent shootings in Atlanta, and by the toxic mix of racism and misogyny that appears to have prompted it. More broadly, we need to acknowledge and condemn the upsurge in anti-Asian American violence that has wracked the country during this past year. Stocked by xenophobia and racism, and a naked appeal to both by right-wing leaders, the violence has hurt and scared many among us, and threatens the solidarity and generosity especially needed as we come through the pandemic.  

Anti-Asian violence is no new thing in California. We have a harsh history of it that stretches back to the state’s earliest days. Learning that history, and learning from it, has long been one of the goals of the University’s Ethnic Studies faculty and students — indeed of all members of the campus community concerned about the future of a multicultural society at once equitable and just. 

We want to particularly direct the attention of OLLI members to the work of two important campus entities: Asian American and Asian Diaspora Studies (AAADS) which is dedicated to the interdisciplinary study of historical and contemporary experiences of Asian-ancestry groups in local, national, and global contexts; and the Asian American Research Center (AARC) was recently launched under the initiation and direction of Ethnic Studies Professor Michael Omi. OLLI members have heard him give presentations on the racial categories of the census and, most recently, as a host for OLLI’s America’s Unfinished Work talk featuring Berkeley Law School Professor Khiara Bridges who spoke on Critical Race Theory.

While we need to stop the violence against our Asian American brothers and sisters now, we need to invest in the future of teachers and researchers who can understand and memorialize this harsh history and create a more compassionate society.

Attention to anti-Asian violence, just as with anti-Black and anti-Latino violence, is too often episodic, and many turn away from the issue once the most recent catastrophe has passed. But many in our community cannot turn away; they are at risk, and concerned about themselves and their families. 

Thank you for considering what you might do today.  We can’t let this history continue to repeat itself.

Susan Hoffman