“History is a story not only of the past, but of the future.” – Grace Lee Boggs
As historians, it is our responsibility not only to bear witness and document life, but also to ensure that we learn from the past and make decisions for a better, more just future.
Our own Asian American experience has been marked by erasure and racism. The Asian diaspora was largely facilitated by imperialism, colonialism, and militarization. We are no strangers to economic exploitation, incarceration, and forced migration. We have been scapegoated and pitted against others to benefit White Supremacy.
But our history is also filled with examples of coalition and movement building. In 2013, the Association for Asian American Studies set a precedent as the first academic association to adopt a resolution supporting “the protected rights of students and scholars everywhere to engage in research and public speaking about Israel-Palestine.”
We formed this organization in response to rising anti-Asian hate crimes, which were fueled by dehumanizing narratives. We are committed to antiracism and anti-imperialism. And, most importantly, an obligation to ensure underrepresented stories are told, preserved, and uplifted.
Accusations of antisemitism have been weaponized to censor or intimidate those speaking out against attacks on innocent Palestinians and the ongoing apartheid. Care for our Jewish community and criticism of the Israeli government are not mutually exclusive. We can both mourn the innocent Israeli lives lost in the Hamas attacks and demand that their deaths not be used to justify retaliatory ethnic cleansing.
The silencing of voices is antithetical to our narrative change work.
We stand unequivocally with Palestinian civilians against the genocidal actions led by the Israeli State and funded by the United States government. Additionally, we call for an end to Islamophobic, anti-Muslim rhetoric targeting Arab and West Asian Americans. As Yuri Kochiyama once said, “We must strive for unity amongst all oppressed communities.”
Stephanie Drenka and Denise Johnson
Co-founders of the Dallas Asian American Historical Society