Why did you decide to concentrate on Asia and not on racism in general? How did you organise the campaign and choose the quotes that you did?
In light of the Atlanta spa shootings, we were reminded that the problem of racism against Asians isn’t just an American one. It’s extremely nuanced and present all around us. On an immediate level, it exists on our campus and in our everyday lives as students at the Institute. We wanted to bring visibility to this reality, so SIA and CEAS collaborated to organise this campaign not just on the level of an event by an initiative, but also to involve our student community as much as possible. Hence, we sent out a Google form where students could anonymously share their experience of racism in Geneva and at the Institute. These quotes were then paraphrased and used in the posters, which can be seen around campus. In addition to this, we also released a solidarity statement with academic and mental health resources for our student community and look forward to organising a panel discussion on the same.
What are your hopes for the campaign?
The idea of this campaign started by acknowledging that racism against Asian people is an extremely broad and multifaceted phenomenon. Individuals from different backgrounds, countries and cultures are subjected to different stereotypes and types of – violent or more subtle – aggression. For this reason, we decided to let the students from different Asian communities speak for themselves, which is why we shared some blank anonymous spaces (the whiteboards) to be filled with people’s experiences. In this way, we hope to raise awareness among Institute students about how diverse these experiences can be, ultimately uncovering how racism can assume multiple forms. Despite the broad aim of this activity and the (many) challenges that still threaten the total eradication of every form of racism, we are overall quite satisfied with the results of the campaign and the support that it has garnered.
How can we be anti-racist in our everyday lives?
Some people might think they are not racist and that is enough. However, a lot of people are still facing different scales of aggression from their friends or random people. When sharing the racism that we experience with non-Asian people, many of them were surprised. It is not something surprising to Asian people, rather it happens in our everyday life where Asians are an ethnic minority. The very first step of being anti-racist is to be aware of this prevalent racism in our society, which is the reason why we organised this campaign on campus.