Speeches & Commentary

#StopAAPIHate Unity Vigil

Good evening, and thank you for being with us as together we mourn the tremendous and horrific loss of members of the Asian community last week through targeted assassinations in Atlanta.  Today, as we remember those losses, we also recognize the increased attention paid to the acts of hate and violence of people from Asian, Pacific Islander and Desi American, immigrant, and international backgrounds.

On a personal note, I want to say how devastated and horrified I am by these senseless and xenophobic acts.  As a white person of privilege, I can only imagine the horror and dismay these acts of violence have caused many of you and other members of the Asian American community.  At Washington University, we celebrate our diverse community, and our students, faculty, and staff who join us from these and other backgrounds only serve to enrich our ethos and mission.  As both a former student and faculty member, and now as Chancellor, I have worked closely with many Asian and Asian American students and colleagues and consider many to be not only colleagues, but also close friends.  To that end, when friends mourn, we must also mourn together. 

Something I appreciate about several Asian philosophies is the significance of one’s journey or path.  Likewise, it’s a concept I’ve come to appreciate in my own own faith tradition as we consider the way of life or the path to righteousness.  It is also a concept we talk a lot about here at WashU — the journey to pursuing knowledge, the journey to graduation, the journey to a career.  To that end, while utterly painful and difficult this past week has been, I encourage us to let this also be one moment on the journey — the journey toward greater awareness and understanding of difference.  Toward keener attention to uncovering knowledge and truth.  And toward bolder commitments to pursuing equity, inclusion, and justice.

Friends and colleagues, while today we take time to mourn, tomorrow we must continue on our journey forward — together.  While the path ahead might still be long, let us use this moment of grief to recommit ourselves to the work ahead and using this community to model for others what the journey toward greater understanding, equity, and inclusion can look like.

Thank you again for joining us to reflect, grieve, and consider our path forward.  It’s this community that continues to give me hope, even in times of tragedy.