BREAKING: President Kim ‘feeling rage and outrage’ over rise in anti-Asian violence

By Brooklyn Kiosow, Co-Editor-In-Chief

President and CEO Kwang-Wu Kim addressed the recent rise in anti-Asian violence in a Friday, April 2 email and said the college’s work of becoming a fully anti-racist institution must take on a new urgency. File Photo

President and CEO Kwang-Wu Kim said in light of recent anti-Asian hate and “othering” in the U.S., there is no room for any form of discrimination aimed at an individual or group at Columbia.

In a Friday, April 2 email from the Office of the President, Kim addressed the recent rise in anti-Asian violence, calling attention to the eight people shot and killed in Atlanta on March 16 and the assault of a 65-year-old Filipino woman in front of an apartment building in Manhattan on March 29. 

“The history of racism and hostility directed towards Asians in this country is a long one,” Kim said. “The more recent wave of violent attacks on Asians, particularly the elderly, seems to have coincided with the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic and the belief that Asians are ‘responsible’ for it and the suffering that it has caused.” 

Kim said although there is a national reckoning with the reality of racism and white supremacy culture in the U.S., the subject of anti-Asian violence has not received the same attention or interest until recently. 

Kim said that while he does not feel it is appropriate as president of Columbia to share his personal views or feelings about current events not directly impacting the college, he wants to remind the college that “we can never tolerate the targeting of any member of our community.”

He said he appreciates the people asking him how he is doing during this time, and said he is feeling “rage and outrage in equal measure.”

“Most of us who identify as members of the AAPI community know what it is like to feel invisible—perceived as ‘white’ by members of other communities of color and as an ‘inscrutable’ but ultimately safe ‘Other’ by members of the white population,” Kim said. “I have lived in this in-between space my entire life and, like many of my generation, have learned to navigate many obstacles, some obvious, others hidden from sight.” 

In the email, he asked the Columbia community to pull together and create an environment where everyone can feel safe and supported. 

On Jan. 18, Columbia launched a collegewide Social Justice Initiative designed to expose and address underlying disparities within the college’s institutional framework, as reported by the Chronicle Jan. 19. The initiative is linked to the Anti-racism Transformation Team, which was was formed during the summer of 2020, as reported by the Chronicle Sept. 8 and announced Oct. 8.

“At present the members of ArTT are engaged in an intensive training that will better equip them to identify the artifacts and legacies of racism in our own institution, the first steps towards dismantling them,” Kim said.