CORONAVIRUS CRISIS CAUTION: GUARDING AGAINST AN EPIDEMIC OF BIAS

AMHERST COLLEGE PRESIDENT BIDDY MARTIN TO HER FACULTY, STUDENTS, STAFF, ALUMNI, AND FAMILIES — “I am writing to provide you with some reflections at the end of our second week of remote learning.… We are living through an extraordinarily difficult and frightening time. In addition to the ravages of the illness itself and the intolerable number of people it is taking, we are faced with other losses: the freedom to move about in the world; to study, work, and play in close proximity to one another; to share space with one another without anxiety…. The problem of anti-Asian bias has taken hold as the pandemic has spread. Asian and Asian American members of our community and of many other communities across the nation have been taunted and verbally harassed; in far too many places they have also been physically attacked in racist incidents that rend the already tattered fabric of our national and global communities.

“Racism is a scourge that we need to fight with all the tools at our disposal—including scientific knowledge about how viruses emerge and spread, and the fact that their search for hosts does not discriminate on the basis of race or ethnicity and spares no group. We can make a difference in the fight against racism of all kinds. All of us stand against it; we can intervene when we witness racist behaviors or hear racist remarks. We can seek help for those who are targeted, if intervening is not possible. We can proactively offer support. We can educate ourselves about the history and current structures of race, ethnicity, and racism in the United States. And we can all make the time and muster the courage to acknowledge our own vulnerability in the face of this virus, to feel compassion for self and for others, and to stand against the racism and hate that is still too available in the culture as a way to misdirect anxiety….”

 

 

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