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A Racism Typology and Government Responses to Anti-Asian Discrimination and Incidents

Lecture by C. Aujean Lee

C. Aujean Lee smiling
C. Aujean Lee

C. Aujean Lee will give a talk about her recent study addressing state and local government responses to anti-Asian incidents in early 2020, during the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, at 4 p.m. on Monday, April 19 via Zoom. Lee is assistant professor of regional and city planning in the Christopher Gibbs College of Architecture and core affiliate faculty in the Women’s and Gender Studies Department at the University of Oklahoma.

Gregory Dunaway, dean of the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences, will give opening remarks, and Katie Kang, assistant professor of communication studies, will moderate.

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Presentation Abstract

Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, there have been at least 3,800 cases of harassment, threats, hate crimes and/or civil rights violations against Asian Americans. Many of these incidents invoke a long history of Asian Americans racialized as either yellow peril (the cause of the pandemic) and/or perpetual foreigners (they do not belong in the country). While Asian American activists and community groups have led the way in collecting these stories and issuing statements, government agencies are behind in naming and/or calling attention to these incidents. This study examines state and local governments that chose to issue statements related to anti-Asian incidents to understand how the government's role in defining and reinforcing racial categories. Statements from 50 state governments and 104 cities within the largest metropolitan regions were analyzed between January 21 and May 1, 2020. These initial reactions highlight challenges and failures of jurisdictions to push for anti-racism and policies that would support their Asian American constituents. The study has important implications because of the ways in which government rhetoric can lead to violent eruptions such as in the recent Atlanta shooting and because other populations have experienced increased harassment since the onset of the pandemic.

About the Speaker

C. Aujean Lee’s work examines residential segregation and racial disparities in housing, community development and wealth. She also studies nonprofits in providing social protections to vulnerable communities in uncertain policy circumstances. She earned a PhD in urban planning from the University of California, Los Angeles, where she was also a research associate with the UCLA Center for Neighborhood Knowledge. Her work has been published in Journal of Planning Education and Research, Journal of Urban Affairs, City and Community and Nonprofit Voluntary Sector Quarterly.