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Confronting Anti-Asian Bias: Interactive Teach-in Scheduled for May 7

Office of the Vice Provost

Dear Cornell Community,

For the last 14 months, we have been fighting a global pandemic that has caused great suffering. With the arrival of vaccines, we seem to be containing the virus, but unfortunately the last year has highlighted and exacerbated longstanding racism against all communities of color. While prejudice can take many forms, over the last several months our nation has seen a disturbing and unacceptable increase in violent attacks against members of Asian, Asian American, and Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities.

Race is not a scientific construct; it is a social one. No assumptions can be drawn from the color of a person’s skin beyond the reality that communities of color are persistently subjected to discrimination and racism. That racism may not be what defines them, but it shapes all of us.

At this university, we aspire to be an inclusive and welcoming community, where everyone feels like they belong. Racism in any form, from seemingly benign assumptions to the violent attacks that have occurred across the country, adds to the unequal burdens some shoulder and runs counter to who we are. It is on each of us to ensure that Asian and AAPI members of our community feel the sense of belonging that we seek for all. We can do this by: 

  • Educating ourselves on the long history of discrimination against Asian and AAPI communities. 
  • Thinking about how the current environment draws on old nativist fears that have long singled out Asian bodies as irredeemably different.
  • Questioning easy tropes (e.g., ‘I don’t see color’ or ‘I am not racist, so it isn’t my problem,’ or ‘model minority’ myths). 
  • Acting to call out discrimination or actions that appear discriminatory to others. 

Let outrage and hope, in equal measure, be a call for change. We are therefore organizing an interactive teach-in for all members of the Ithaca, Geneva and Cornell Tech campuses on May 7 from noon to 2 p.m. This will be an opportunity for us all to hear from the community about the depth of these issues and strategies for fighting the rising discrimination. We encourage everyone—students, staff, postdocs, and faculty across all racial and ethnic identities—to participate. The only way to address racism is together: it is not up to one group to shoulder this alone, so, whether or not you feel that racism impacts you, we hope that you will join us in this reflection and commitment.

In preparation, here are some resources that we encourage you to consult:

Select op-eds by Asian American scholars: 

We will be in touch closer to May 7 with details. In the meantime, know that we stand in complete solidarity with our Asian, Asian American, and Pacific Islander communities on campus and beyond.


Avery August
Vice Provost for Academic Affairs and Presidential Advisor on Diversity and Equity

Wendy Wolford
Vice Provost for International Affairs