A message from FAP to the Harvard community–
These past few months have seen an ugly, though not unprecedented, rise in hate crimes against the Asian, Asian American, and Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities in America. Though numbers cannot convey the full brunt of these tragic crimes and losses, they may perhaps be useful in understanding the magnitude of this wave: around 3,800 incidents of anti-Asian hate crimes have been recorded this past year, with a vast majority being targeted against Asian women. We mourn those lives lost to senseless acts of hate, and we must as well grieve other losses: a sense of safety, of security, of a world that recognizes the right to dignity.
Along with holding space for our AAPI community members, along with sharing grief, we must ourselves do better. As a pre-orientation program that introduces Harvard to many first-years, the First-Year Arts Program (FAP) has a responsibility to acknowledge, validate, and uplift all identities that FAPpers, proctors, and artists bring with them and share with our community. We commit to fostering, supporting, and expanding space for AAPI creators at Harvard, and to using our platform to more consistently elevate the work of AAPI student organizations like The Wave, Asian Student Arts Project, Asian American Dance Troupe, and Harvard South Asian Association, among many others.
We recognize that the insidious trend of anti-Asian sentiment finds some roots in art, especially in popular media. In the little representation that is afforded the AAPI community, routine type-casting, stereotyping, white-washing, and the depiction of the model minority myth all play a role in perpetuating and heightening hate of the type we saw in Atlanta. As artists and community members, we are uniquely positioned to creatively pursue change, and have the responsibility to do better.
In response to what is happening, and in recognition of our position of influence, FAP commits to:
holding ourselves accountable via equipping our staff and student leadership with proper equity, inclusion, and belonging (EIB) training.
continuing institutional reflection on how to make both FAP and Harvard Arts as inclusive and accessible as possible.
calling our peers and fellow artists into conversation about EIB best practices.
holding others and ourselves accountable in these outlined intentions as well as where our efforts have fallen short.
We honor the lives of Xiaojie Tan, Daoyou Feng, Delaina Ashley Yaun, Paul Andre Michels, Soon Chung Park, Hyun Jung Grant, Yong A. Yue, Suncha Kim, and so many others lost to senseless acts of hate. Looking forward, we celebrate the resilience, strength, and creativity of all members of our AAPI Harvard Community, and the rich cultural traditions that they bring to our campus. We return to our previous commitments and reflect on our progress as we strive toward a better, freer world, in which all of us can make art and live safely.
The FAP Proctor and Resident Artist Team