To Chancellor Yang, to the “Asian male” suspects, to the UCSB student body:
We, the Asian Pacific Islander Political Alliance and South Asian Students Association, stand in solidarity with all folks who have been targets of sexual assault – across the entire gender spectrum. But as painful as it is to acknowledge it, sexual assault is gendered and racialized. Asian Pacific Islander/American women are disproportionately targeted by sexual assault, as well as Black, Latin@, and Native women – which makes the incidents from this past week all the more relevant to our community.
Last weekend, an UCSB alert was sent out warning students that a group of “Asian males” had sexually assaulted a young woman. A couple of days later, Chancellor Henry T. Yang sent out a follow-up email explaining what he did to address the issue, which was to hire five more police officers. That same day, hundreds of flyers were posted all over campus with sketches of the two suspects. On top of all of this, news vans from all over Southern California have been in Isla Vista, trying to get more information for their coverage of the story.
Let’s process all of that. There is clearly a lot going on here – many different forms of institutionalized violence meeting at many different intersections. This is a statement of solidarity and a call for critical redress of the events listed.
First and foremost, sexual assault is NEVER okay. EVER. As a student body, we should always be doing work to become conscious of, and ultimately dismantling, the rape culture that is prevalent both on and off of our campus. Organizations like Take Back The Night are doing the hard work of starting collective movements against sexual assault – and we should be doing everything we can to support said movements.
Those attempting to analyze this under a colorblind lens are horribly misguided – race can never be separated from any incident, just as race and gender can never be separated from a person. With this in mind, we attempt to critically address the myriad of events that have unfolded this past week.
To the suspects under investigation:
The deeds you’ve committed against the survivor and your entire community is grossly despicable and disgraceful. It is unimaginable how you have committed such inhumane acts against another marginalized community. Your malicious intent, your unspeakable misogyny and your violence is shameful, and it’s brutally indicative of how much work is ahead of us as a community and as a campus.
To Chancellor Yang:
How you can think that hiring five new police officers to this campus will facilitate any sort of change regarding sexual assault is beyond us. As if the police department does not directly commit sexual assault against women, especially women of color. As if the police department did not specifically target an API/A woman in Los Angeles a couple weeks ago. As if the police department has not criminalized people of color for decades. As if the police department has not instilled fear on campuses across the UC system, and specifically at this campus. As if the police department is equipped to handle instances of sexual assault.
To the UCSB student body:
It is heartbreaking and unspeakably disgusting that as one community rises, another community is villified and discriminated against. As the sketches of the two suspects have been plastered around campus, racist comments and hateful actions have already spread like wildfire. It seems that the stereotype of the “inherently patriarchal Asian man” have inevitably surfaced at this xenophobic, racist university.
Before we start talking about what is “inherently patriarchal,” we must remember to bring to life the real legacies of colonialism, neoliberalism and assimilation manifested by white governments. No peoples is “inherently” any adjective, and to assume so is a testament to the success of coded racism.
That being said, the lack of accountability by the greater API male community at large is horrifying. Where is the critical organizing against sexual assault by API men? Where is the accountability for the violence? Where is the condemnation that should be loud and clear?
This is not only a critical look at what’s been happening – it’s also a call for organization, for critical deconstruction and for actual change to happen in Isla Vista and within our communities. It’s a call to the student body to start educating ourselves. It’s a call to the administration to change how sexual assault is addressed at UCSB, in order to set an example that will lead the way in making sustainable change throughout the nation. This is not just our chance at changing the culture of sexual violence; it’s our chance to revolutionize how we look at sexual violence.
In love & solidarity,
API Political Alliance
South Asian Student Association