April 2020

Dear APACC Community,

First off, apologies for our delay in celebrating, as we are still adjusting to moving our office online!

Our heritage month feels different this year, with all the shifts happening around us, we have been thinking about what it means to celebrate and to carry this vast identity of Asian American, API, AAPI, and/or APIDA. As you can see, even finding one name to identify us as a community can be challenging, and we continue to be in conversation about this.

As we reflect on the word heritage, we are thinking about what it means to inherit something. Heritage can be both a source of suffering and also, privilege and power.

Recently, we noticed an increase of anti-Asian racism happening around us. One that is caused by the ignorance associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. We offer strength and solidarity with those who have been harmed.

At the same time, we try to remember that we not only have inherited the experience of racism caused by white supremacy, some in our community have also inherited the privilege of being lighter skinned and being able to access white-dominated spaces that many black, brown, and indigenous people could not.

To celebrate our heritage is to tap into the collective memory of our resiliency and it is also remembering the power we collectively share to create change. It is to organize and mobilize in ways that benefit all those who struggle with oppression.

To do so we need to be in community and in conversation with each other. We also need to be in community and in conversation with our allies and co-conspirators in our fight for social justice. It is to take time to reflect on what the people in our past went through to bring us here, so we know how to carry forth our collective dreams of a better future.

This month we invite you to be in community with us and with each other, to reclaim what it means to inherit the identities we carry, and to take charge in writing a history that is unfolding in front of us.

As APACC, we intend to align all our efforts to reflect this:

  • Stay up to date with what’s happening by following us on InstagramFacebook, and signing up for our weekly newsletter by emailing apacc.csu@gmail.com and leaving your name and email.
  • We will initiate conversations on these platforms in an effort to share educational resources and to host live discussions. This will be shared on our social media.
  • Our keynote speakers, AsianBossGirl, are set to host a live stream on Wednesday, April 22 at 6PM MDT. Look out for that registration link on our platforms!
  • Our APACC events will be facilitated in ways that encourage this reflection, with prompts and reminders at every session
    • Story Circle, a weekly support group session for students on Mondays 4:00-5:30PM MDT
    • Chai to Understand, Tuesdays and Thursdays from 5:00-6:00PM MDT. Follow our instagram for zoom links to join live!
    • Graduate student, faculty, and staff lunch session on Thursdays 11:30-1:00PM MDT

And we invite you to take the time to engage with your own heritage this month, and share that story with us.

In what ways does your personal history connect with these times of struggle?

In what ways do you see yourself in our collective heritage of Asian American, Southeast Asian, Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander, Desi/Indian American, Middle Eastern, North African, transracial adoptees, and mixed race activists?

And in that spirit, we turn to the wisdom of Asian American activist Grace Lee Boggs: “We never know how our small activities will affect others through the invisible fabric of our connectedness. In this exquisitely connected world, it is never a question of ‘critical mass’. It’s always about critical connections.”

~Asian Pacific American Cultural Center (APACC)

 

Updated APACC Statement  (March 23, 2020)

Dear Asian Pacific American Cultural Center (APACC) community,

We at APACC acknowledge that the shift due to COVID-19 can be intense for many members of our community. We hope you and your loved ones are staying safe during this time of constant change and uncertainty.

Per the advice of public health officials and weighing many public factors to keep our communities safe, APACC will be virtually open but the office space will be closed starting Monday, March 23rd. Staff will be available via email and audio/video meetings.

As we continue to practice social distancing, APACC is committed to keep creating spaces where we can be in solidarity with each other. No one should have to deal with this alone.

We are actively compiling a list of resources and tools that address issues from moving out, finding community, updates, to ways of coping. Here is the link to the resource document.

Moving forward, here are the changes we have made:
APACC will be available virtually by contacting any of the professional staff:
JoAnn Cornell, joann.cornell@colostate.edu
Carl Murray Olsen, carl.murray_olsen@colostate.edu
Atlas Tan, atlas.tanudjaja@colostate.edu

Story Circle, our weekly APIDA support group, will continue to meet online every Monday at 4 to 5:30 Mountain Standard Time. Please sign up through this link and we will email you the link on the time of the meeting. You can also stay updated by tuning into our Instagram and Facebook.

Chai to Understand will continue to host meaningful discussions online. We know this was an incredibly important community space, so we are committed to making it continue to happen weekly. Look for updates on our Instagram and Facebook.

Office hours are available via video calls if you’d like to meet with one of our professional staff. We are open Mondays to Fridays 8am to 5pm MST. Our job here is to help you with anything you’re needing, even if you just need someone to process some stuff in your life, we are here to support you. Please email apacc.csu@gmail.com or the above emails to set a time with us.

We have created an APACC Google Group for students to connect, support, and keep in touch with each other.

Beyond the logistics, APACC wants you to know that the professional staff also feels like we’re in a fog. With all of the uncertainty both professionally and personally, we hear you and see you when you feel powerless with the rapid updates of information. We acknowledge those who are graduating and not being able to celebrate in May and want you to know how proud we are of you and your accomplishments. We hope you find ways to grieve this loss and still celebrate your huge milestone.

If you’re struggling with the uncertainty and needing support, or even just someone to talk to, please meet with one of us at APACC, we are here to support you. You can also join our Story Circle, which is a space for us to share and support each other. It’s easier when we don’t have to deal with things alone.

We’d like to add to the existing voice of our disabled community. As all of campus mobilizes for accessibility and remote access to accommodate people staying home, it is incredibly frustrating that a pandemic is what inspires institutional change for the disabled community and not the current and historical systemic and institutional oppression happening right here at CSU. Although parts of the disabled community are still being silenced, we hope this change opens us up to hearing more about ability oppression in our society.

We’d like to add to the existing voice of our community of survivors of interpersonal violence. As we continue to push policies that create isolation, we know that isolation is used by perpetrators of gender-based violence to exercise power over their victims. If you need confidential services related to interpersonal violence (sexual assault, relationship violence, stalking), call the Victim Assistance Team at (970) 492-4242. For more information, go to www.wgac.colostate.edu and here is the Women and Gender Advocacy Center’s official statement.

We’d like to add to the existing voice of our LGBTQ+ community. Not only does language around CORVID-19 trigger the current status of HIV/AIDS that is still impacting our communities, but as some of our students are forced to stay home, this can reignite extreme tension of living with parents who are unwilling to look past their own homophobia and transphobia.

Racism, xenophobia, and sinophobia continue to persist in the APIDA community. Especially with Trump calling COVID-19 the “Chinese virus.” We take this opportunity to remind ourselves of our solidarity with all those who are dealing and healing from racism. For our previous statement about racism and xenophobia, check out our website at apacc.colostate.edu.

And a special word of thanks to our facilities staff, dining and housing team, faculty, staff, students and the families and friends that are going to extraordinary efforts themselves to take care of loved ones right now.

Stay in touch. Be kind. Be safe. Take care of yourself and each other. Let us know how we can support you. We are here for you.

~Asian Pacific American Cultural Center (APACC)

 

APACC Statement
March 2, 2020

As we say often, “Rams take care of Rams”. Unfortunately we are seeing incidents where this is not the case in light of the coronavirus.

This is not the first time in U.S. history that Asian Americans are being subjected to unwarranted suspicion, playing on historical racist beliefs that people of color don’t belong. From the swine flu that was wrongly associated with Mexican Americans in 2009 and the Ebola outbreak associated with Black and African Americans in 2014, the coronavirus is only the most recent example of believing people of color are inherently diseased. There are reports across the country of Asian Americans being denied services and being physically assaulted.

It is okay to plan and prepare for coronavirus.  It is ignorant and wrong to attack Asian people because you are afraid.  These stories are heartbreaking and disturbing.  Asian International students and Asian American students here at CSU are feeling a heightened sense of discrimination from peers and staff. Let’s do better. Let’s rise above these misconceptions and false notions. No disease is race-specific and race itself is a social construct rather than a biological one.  Instead of isolating our fellow Rams, let’s do our best to show our care and support.

-Asian Pacific American Cultural Center

If you’ve been targeted by race-based behavior, you have several options. You can submit a report to https://supportandsafety.colostate.edu/incidents-of-bias/. The Asian Pacific American Cultural Center is located in room 333 in the Lory Student Center. You can find community and support with your fellow students and professional staff. We have “Story Circle” on Monday’s from 4-5:30 in APACC. It is a weekly supportive space for those who identify as Native Hawai’ian, Pacific Islander, Middle Eastern, Asian American, Desi, Transracial Adoptee, and Mixed Race. International students are welcome to our Center as well. Students who identify as international can also find support at the Office of International Programs in Laurel Hall. Advisors are available daily for open advising M-F 9:30-11:30 and 1:00-3:00 or you may call (970) 491-5917 for assistance.

Message from Dr. Kathy Sisneros, Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs, Colorado State University

On behalf of the professional staff who represent the Student Diversity Programs and Services (SDPS) cultural and resource centers (Asian/Pacific American, Black/African American, Native American, El Centro, Pride Resource, Student Disability and the Women and Gender Advocacy) I want to send a note of solidarity denouncing anti-Blackness and systemic racist oppression particularly in the form of police brutality.

We join in and acknowledge the national outcry by folks of color, especially the Black community seeking accountability for the violence of sanctioned white supremacy that continues to kill Black bodies with little to zero recourse.  Every center has evolved from our marginalized students demanding more resources and support to be seen and valued on this campus. As you may know, SDPS has always and continues to prioritize advocating for our minoritized students first and foremost. The current reality echoes these calls at a national level and we know we have a continued role to play on your
behalf, and for our collective liberation. Today, we are here to name and be in solidarity with our Black students, staff and faculty.

We know that the fight for change is enacted in a variety of ways and we support everyone using their voice and power to press for systemic change at the national level and in our own backyard. Our Black community at CSU understands this pain all to well, as incidents of anti-Black harm persist within our broader community. We know how much labor has been placed upon and our Black students, #NotProudToBe readily comes to mind, and we know that these are not the only Black voices fighting for equity and justice. We know how much the staff in the B/AACC carry for the broader Black community on campus and how much our all our Black staff within SDPS and across
campus labor in the name of justice and addressing anti-Blackness, and it’s time we all figure out how to lessen their load by having us all invest in dismantling white supremacy in all of it’s manifestations.

As we represent the collective student diversity programs and services, it’s important to name and acknowledge that Black lives are not a monolith. We know that ALL Black lives matter…this means knowing and understanding that
…violence against Black women is anti-Blackness;
…violence against a Black trans person is anti-Blackness;
…violence against a Black man is anti-Blackness;
…violence against a Black undocumented person is anti-Blackness;
…violence against a Black queer person is anti-Blackness;
…violence against a Black Deaf person is anti-Blackness;

…violence against someone who is AfroLatinx is anti-Blackness;
…violence against a Black Muslim is anti-Blackness

We know that we have Black folks who identify within all of our cultural and resource centers, Black queer and trans folks, AfroLatinx folks, folks who are Black and disabled, bi/multi-racial folks who are Black…AND.

It’s also important for me to explicitly name that we have non-Black staff of color and white staff that must engage in our own work related to anti-Blackness. So what does that mean exactly? It means that we are in this work together and that we need to continue committing ourselves to uphold our values of: student centered equity, advocacy, intersectionality, and a coalition/practice of solidarity that uplifts Black voices and directly engages addresses all forms of anti-Blackness within ourselves, within our
programs and how we seek support and accountability within our CSU community.

We need to confront and interrupt words and actions of anti-Blackness in all our spaces…physical and virtual. We must do better to educate ourselves, listen and stop excusing away racism and anti-Blackness because it’s not our lived experience. We need to stop expecting Black folks to “prove” these injustices and simply learn to listen, demonstrate empathy and start holding ourselves more accountable.

For those who have not seen the message from the BAACC center or the message from our Black staff who do trauma based work out of WGAC, I offer both messages here: BAACC Statement , WGAC Statement to amplify their voices and to understand the labor and trauma that our Black students, faculty and staff continue to endure and we need address racism and anti-Blackness.

As the professional staff in SDPS we will commit to:
 engaging in our own education to unlearn internalized anti-Black thinking and
behaviors and interrupting and holding each other accountable for anti-Black
comments and actions
 pushing back on programs, policies, and practices that are anti-Black
 advocating for resources that support the needs of our Black students
 hearing and absorbing feedback about how we need to represent and advocate for Black students better

 engaging in our collective work and hold each other accountable when we are
complicit and/or contributing to an anti-Black narrative
 using our collective voice to push for accountability and measurable change on campus

Please know that this is not a fleeting moment, but a recommitment to our Black students, staff and faculty and to dismantling white supremacy in all of our work. I know that I and we have work to do, and I know we are all committed to this work. And, I want to know what you all feel we need to think more about, do better, do differently, so if you have thoughts or feedback, please email me directly at kathy.sisneros@colostate.edu or share with any staff person you feel comfortable sharing with in SDPS.