April 1, 2020
Dear Students, Friends, Community Members, Alumni, and Allies of CSUN's Asian American Studies,
As chair of the AAS Department, I am writing to you to remind us all that we are all in this together.
We are going through unprecedented times with COVID-19 ravaging the globe. While the good news is that 80% of those who will contract the virus will experience mild symptoms or remain asymptomatic. The bad news is that even those with mild or no symptoms can transmit the virus, contributing to the illness and death of others. This is a stubborn and voracious virus. And we are yet to see the worst of the damage this pandemic is about to unleash upon our fellow human beings.
And if the impact of the virus on our physical, mental, emotional, and economic well-being is not enough, Asians in the U.S. and around the world are being targeted for hate crimes because of the virus' origination in Wuhan, China. Even among our own faculty and students, we have reports that they have either witnessed and/or experienced such COVID-19-related harassment. The president of the United States making references to COVID-19 as "the Chinese flu," "Kung flu," and "the foreign virus," all fan the flame of racialized hatred and xenophobia which have plagued Asians/Asian Americans since our first arrival here in the Americas & the United States. This is all the more reason why Asian American Studies *must* be part of the educational lexicon here in the United States from K-12 through the university.
Asian American studies faculty and students have had to make a rapid transition from face-to-face classes to online modules with short notice (less than a week's notice). We are fully aware that not all students have access to the same resources. Many students have lost their jobs or their parents have lost jobs. International students may not be able to return home. Both faculty and students must be experiencing stress, anxiety and discomfort. Let's all be loving and patient to one another as we go through this together. Let's openly communicate with one another our frustrations and our gratitude. If ever there was a time to show understanding, compassion and mercy, this is it!
Our dedicated faculty are committed to our students' well-being first and foremost. We are trying to figure out ways to offer practical support for our students who are experiencing hardships. We will keep you posted on that!
Ethnic Studies is a field that grew out of *struggle and protest* to contest dominant paradigms and systems. We created a field literally out of nothing but the desire, passion, and commitment of students and faculty alike who wanted to tell our stories in the face of great opposition. Students went on strike and protested at SFSU, at Berkeley, at UCLA and yes here at CSUN! We, here in Asian American Studies, are therefore positioned to meet the challenges of this moment by being at the forefront of transgressive and innovative teaching and learning.
Ethnic studies celebrated its 50 years last year (1969-2019). CSUN's AAS Department is commemorating our 30th year as an autonomous academic unit this year (1990-2020). Unfortunately, we are postponing (not cancelling) many of our celebrations (30th Anniversary Celebration, Student Awards Ceremony, Distinguished Lecture, Commencement, Graduation, etc.). Once we get through this, we will be back -- better and stronger than ever! For now, please be kind and gentle to yourselves and to each other.
On behalf of the Asian American Studies Department here at CSUN, I extend our love, our compassion, and our concern for you and your loved ones.
We are planning to set up a donation for AAS students in need. If you can give a little, it will help our students who are most in need.
Please don't hesitate to contact me if you have any questions or concerns. We are here for you!
Dr. Eunai Shrake, Chair