UC Berkeley community reflects on recent rise of anti-Asian sentiment

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Matt Gibson/Staff
The UC Berkeley community reflects on rising anti-Asian sentiment throughout the country and at home after an anti-Asian incident at University Village Albany.

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In the aftermath of an anti-Asian incident at University Village Albany, the UC Berkeley community reflected on rising anti-Asian sentiment throughout the country and at home.

On the morning of March 15, two women of Asian descent were harassed while waiting in line for the University Village food pantry to open. At the intersection of Jackson Street and Monroe Street, a man began bothering the women, according to Randi Evans, a Ph.D. candidate in performance studies who reported the incident.

He began walking off with one of their carts and when confronted by Evans, he became upset and started removing his things, saying he could not understand the women because they did not speak English. After throwing the cart into the street, he walked off yelling “misogynistic and Asian slurs,” Evans said.

The incident was originally reported to Albany Police Department and transferred to UCPD, but involved individuals left before a UCPD officer arrived for an area check. None of the individuals have requested a police report as of March 19, according to UCPD spokesperson Lt. Sabrina Reich.

Evans added that there has been a police presence at the pantry since the incident.

“I think students feel concerned and upset about the incident…but in general, I feel safe in the village,” Evans said in an email. “I have lived here for 6 1/2 years and I have a community of neighbors whom I know and trust.”

While scapegoating for the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in increased violence against Asians, members of the community emphasized that xenophobia and anti-Asian sentiments have been historically pervasive in the U.S.

Campus second-year April Ma feels that the media has played a role by portraying Asian countries as foreign policy threats and reinforcing monolithic stereotypes.

“These are not anomalies, but rather features of a system that uses white supremacy to its advantage,” Ma said. “There are countless parallels between the ostracization of other historically marginalized groups and trends of violence that shouldn’t be ignored.”

Two days after the incident at University Village, UC Berkeley Student Affairs sent a mass email emphasizing a commitment to fostering an inclusive campus environment and protecting the physical and emotional well-being of marginalized communities.

The Asian Pacific American Systemwide Alliance, or APASA, said in an email they were not informed enough to comment on the University Village incident but reflected on general rising anti-Asian sentiment in the country.

“We are with you in the pain, grief, outrage, and fear being felt widely, especially given the increased visibility of violence targeting members of our community,” APASA said in a statement. “It is okay to feel whatever you’re feeling, to be angry, to grieve, to seek solidarity, to take things one day or even one hour at a time.”

Contact Catherine Hsu at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @catherinehsuDC.