We were horrified this week to see another example of violence resulting in death, this time in Atlanta, Ga., where eight people, including six Asian women, were killed by a gunman.
On March 17, 2021, Dean Gary Bowen issued the following statement to the UNC School of Social Work community:
A tragic and senseless shooting spree by a lone gunman targeting Asian-run businesses in Atlanta has resulted in the deaths of eight people, including six victims who were Asian women. Although the motive of the shooter remains under investigation, this violent and hateful crime only adds to the growing fears of Asian Americans who have faced growing racism and violence during the coronavirus pandemic.
UNC School of Social Work shares in the grief for the victims and stands in support of their families and their larger community of friends and neighbors. Our hearts go out to the Asian American community. We condemn all expressions and forms of hate, racism, and violence. We support all expressions and forms of love, equity, and peace. As a social work community, we stand in unity with the Asian American community, and we remain committed to taking meaningful and concrete action to build a safe and just society.
On behalf of the UNC School of Social Work Anti-Racism Committee, Associate Dean for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Travis Albritton sent the following message (signed by committee members Albritton, Gina Chowa, Gary Cuddeback, Trenette Clark Goings, and Michael Lambert) to students, faculty, and staff on March 18, 2021:
Like many of you, we are dismayed by the senseless murders of 8 people in metro Atlanta on Tuesday evening. The act of targeted violence against the men and women who lost their lives are another reminder of how bigotry and hate continue to ravage communities of color across our country.
We grieve with and for the families of the individuals who lost their lives, and we condemn the violence that continues to take the lives of people of color. We acknowledge that six of the eight victims were Asian American, and we want our Asian American faculty, staff, and students to know that we stand with you during this difficult time. We acknowledge your pain, and we recognize that acts of racism and bigotry hurt all of us.
This most recent incident is another reminder of the noticeable increase in hate crimes that Asian and Asian American communities have experienced since the beginning of the pandemic. As a committee, we are committed to engaging in dialogue and action aimed at building a community where everyone, no matter their race or ethnicity, feels and is supported and valued. Our community is stronger when we as individuals commit to honor one another’s inherent dignity and humanity.
As members of our School community continue to process the news of these shootings in Atlanta this week, our Social Work Student Organization (SoWoSO) planned an online open space on March 18 for sharing and support. As SoWoSO advisor Laurie Selz-Campbell noted, “While we might feel powerless … we can come together to witness, honor, and care for each other.”