The staff and faculty of the Department of Asian Studies express their abhorrence for the toppled Confederate monument that formerly stood at McCorkle Place, and their support for the students and community members who performed the ethical act of civil disobedience that brought down the statue, a hateful symbol of white supremacy on our campus, on August 20, 2018. We further urge Chancellor Folt, the UNC Board of Governors, the North Carolina Legislature, and the district attorney to refrain from levelling charges against any of the protesters of the monument. We also register our support for Maya Little, a former teaching assistant in Asian Studies, who has played a prominent role in sustaining the protests against Silent Sam.
The faculty of Asian Studies teach students to understand and respect other cultures and perspectives. We also routinely teach and research the relationship between power and the right to write history and create knowledge. Many of the regions and cultures of Asia and the Middle East have suffered from a history of colonialism and its legacies. Among those legacies is an ongoing racialized imbalance of power between the Global North and the Global South, which manifests itself in an imbalance in the power to name, to narrate, and to represent. What we do in our classrooms is not divorced from events outside the classroom, including the types of monuments that stand on the UNC campus. For more than 100 years Silent Sam celebrated bigotry and valorized the racism that made both slavery and colonialism possible. Its removal facilitates our work, as well as that of UNC as a whole, whose mission “to discover, create, transmit, and apply knowledge to address the needs of individuals and society” we share.