More than 200 Stony Brook University administrators, faculty, staff and students participated in the May 5 virtual event, “Breaking Silence: A Public Forum on Anti-AAPI Racism.”
The forum was held in response to the escalating violence, discrimination and harassment directed at Asians and Asian Americans, and in honor of Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month, which recognizes the contributions and influence of Asian Americans and Pacific Islander Americans to the history, culture, and achievements of the United States.
President Maurie McInnis opened the forum, saying, “I know that it is incredibly important that we take the time, not just this month, but year-round to talk about the pressures and prejudices that the AAPI community faces, and importantly, how we at Stony Brook University can respond to and support our colleagues and friends. We at Stony Brook are committed to ensuring that this university is always a place where the members of the AAPI community are supported, protected, and listened to.”
Other remarks were delivered by Vice President for Equity and Inclusion and Chief Diversity Officer Judith Brown Clarke, Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students Rick Gatteau, Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences Nicole Sampson, Professor of Applied Linguistics and Director of the Center for Multilingual and Intercultural Communication (MIC) Agnes He, and New York State Senator John Liu of Queens. He served as the event emcee.
The forum was moderated by E.K. Tan, department chair, and Rosabel Ansari, interim graduate director, of the Department of Asian and Asian-American Studies.
Forum participants spoke to denounce the scapegoating of Asian Americans for national crises, examined systemic racism against Asians and other minority groups in United States history, and promoted building anti-racist allyship. The event was held on Zoom and was open and free to all.
Two videos were presented, created by Nerissa S. Balce, associate professor of Asian-American Studies, and Gary Mar, professor in the Department of Philosophy.
Other faculty members who spoke to the history and effects of discrimination against Asian Americans included: James Mimura, Department of History; Crystal Fleming, Departments of Sociology and African Studies; Lori Flores, Department of History, and Charles Robbins, director of the Center for Changing Systems of Power. Student speakers included Judy Le and Khadija Saad.
An open discussion was held among the participants, moderated by He and Heejeong Song, director of the Program in Korean Studies. Various on-campus and other resources were posted, questions were asked, personal experiences were shared and solutions proposed.
The event was sponsored by the Department of Asian and Asian American Studies, the Center for Korean Studies, the Center for Multilingual and Intercultural Communication, the Japan Center at Stony Brook and the Mattoo Center for India Studies. The event was also co-sponsored by the Asian American Center Bridge, the Center for Changing Systems of Power, the Charles B. Wang Center, the College of Arts and Sciences, the Institute of Globalization Studies, the Office of the Dean of Students and the Office of Multicultural Affairs.