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East Asia Program statement of solidarity with BLM

Black Lives Matter protest in Seoul
June 30, 2020

Throughout modern history, the emergence of movements making powerful demands for justice have opened up the possibility for profound social transformations.  The East Asia Program recognizes such a moment in the sweeping protests that have arisen over the murders by police of unarmed Black persons. Together with people across the globe who are demonstrating the justice and necessity of this movement, we wish to express our affirmation of, and support for, Black Lives Matter and its allies in their quest for redress for injuries perpetuated by systemic racism. 

For too long, we have failed to acknowledge both the blatant, and also subtle, violences that have been the legacies of American slavery, the genocide of indigenous peoples, and exclusionary practices and illegal internments of Asian migrants and their descendants. We have also disavowed the intersection, modeling, and impact of these racist policies in other societies across the globe. Complicity with this disavowal at every level of our institutions, including those of higher education, belie the principles of democracy to which we believe scholars and people across the globe aspire. Indeed, as people everywhere reflect on the origins of modern national cultures, we believe we as scholars must undertake far-reaching examination of  how our very critical concepts , not only of “race,” but of “racism” itself, may yet perpetuate systemic racism and the violences that accompany it, including in the knowledge practices called area studies. We therefore urge Cornell University, in the coming year, to encourage and promote extensive reflection on these matters, as well as intersecting oppressions (e.g. gender, sexuality, and class), and how they may be addressed in our teaching and research, in hiring and promotion, and in transforming the cultural and social life of the university as a whole. 

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