Vigil for AAPI solidarity held Monday

Corryn Brock, News Editor

The Student Government led a candlelight vigil to stand against racism and violence against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders Monday night.

During the vigil, those who attended paid tribute to victims of hate and violence towards AAPI individuals, reflected on racism and challenges face by those in the AAPI community.

University President David Glassman was the first speaker for the vigil and said he was “extremely proud of all of the students who worked to coordinate this event and all of the participants that are joining (Monday) in solidarity.”

Glassman said that while the process of combatting racism has been long, the university has no plans to stop.

“For so long we continued to talk about racism and hatred against marginalized individuals, yet over and over again it continues to happen. It’s extremely sad. The progress that we’re making is slow and frustrating yet our commitment stays strong, we are not going to stop our fight for hope, our fight for inclusion, respect and this program tonight demonstrates that commitment, Glassman said. “At EIU we have stood up and continue to stand up continuously in the strongest of terms and words and actions that oppose and type of hatred because of one’s culture, heritage, race, nationality or any other trait used to marginalize individuals.”

He said he found it said that that message does not resonate with everyone.

“Let’s continue to stand against prejudice and let’s all of us become activists in each of our own ways to call out racism when we see it and to call out hatred when we view it,” Glassman said.

He spoke directly on the rise in hate towards AAPI individuals since the start of the pandemic, something he has referenced in an email where he said “It’s clear that despite the progress we have made as individuals and as a country, the struggle for racial and social equality in America continues. We must leverage current events as decisive, teachable moments for everyone in our EIU community, and remind ourselves daily of the categorical responsibilities we share in advancing the common good.”

During the vigil, Glassman said the AAPI community and the COVID-19 pandemic have nothing in common.

“It has been used as an excuse by numbers of individuals to be able to leverage their hatred and crimes of hatred against these populations that deserve none of that,” Glassman said. “I call on all of us to rise against this…”

Jinhee Lee, associate professor of history, spoke on her knowledge of racism, discrimination and hate speech during the meeting. She called the history of racism towards the AAPI community a long one.

She also spoke on her own personal experiences and said though there has been a recent increase in hate towards AAPI individuals, this is nothing new.

“Victims have cried out for help and attention for a long time, much  longer than we know. But it has been ignored, ridiculed and accused of playing victims as mob of minorities.”

Lee spoke on times where she has had things thrown at her and was the subject of aggressive language and hate speech. She said that is something she is sure other AAPI individuals have experiences with.

Lee said much has been done in the past to combat racism towards the AAPI community but more needs to be done.

“We need to become more proactive, look for more preventive measures and we can do these not only as an individual friend or colleague or neighbor by checking in on our Asian American friends, classmates (but we can) help and organize a safe space for them to chat and share together,” Lee said.

The Student Government also introduced a resolution denouncing hate against the AAPI community:

“Whereas, The Eastern Illinois University remains committed to a welcoming and inclusive campus community that recognizes and elaborates its diversity.

Whereas, The Eastern Illinois University community stands in solidarity against Asian Hate in response to the ongoing violence and hate targeted against members of the AAPI community.

Whereas, Eastern Illinois University condemns any acts of expressions of hate and violence that threatens the personal safety and welfare of members of the AAPI community and all EIU faculty, staff and students.

Whereas, Eastern Illinois University has a duty to confront and speak out against all forms of racial, violence and discrimination.

Whereas, Eastern Illinois University recognizes and celebrates the rich history, culture contributions of those members of the Asian American & Pacific Islander communities.

Be it resolved, Eastern Illinois University & the EIU Student Government condemns any and all forms of discrimination, hate and violence against members of the AAPI communities and members of the EIU community.”

The resolution will be voted on during the Student Government’s meeting Wednesday at 7 p.m.

Following the vigil, Student Government leaders encouraged those in attendance to take a selfie while holding a candle and post to social media with the hashtag #EIUnited Against Asian Hate.

 

Corryn Brock can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected]