Ask. Communicate. Teach Tolerance. (A.C.T.) assembled a vigil last Monday in remembrance of the victims of the shootings that killed six Asian women in Atlanta, Georgia.
Members of the Shippensburg University faculty and student body gave speeches and offered condolences to the Asian and Asian American community. Around 75 people attended the vigil, which was held outside of the Ezra Lehman Memorial Library.
Students and faculty joined together to grieve with the Asian community and to begin finding solutions to the ever-growing racism in the United States. ACT Committee members Brenda Aristy and Abdulomar Tucker gave the opening remarks.
“We stand by our Asian brothers and sisters at this time, while they grieve for their loved ones and those in their community,” Tucker said.
Aristy echoed his statements saying, “An act against one is an act against all. We will not stand by acts of hate that continue to plague the Asian community. We feel your pain and we stand behind you in a fight that is only won by uniting.”
Tomoko Grabosky, a professor in the counseling department, read the names of the six Atlanta victims as members of the ACT committee lit candles in their memory.
Grabosky felt the tragedy close to home and recalled her life growing up in America as a Japanese immigrant.
“The more I learn about the victims, they remind me of myself, my family, my friends and my neighbors.”
She explained that she used her counseling career to help those affected by racial trauma, but after hearing of the Atlanta shooting, decided to engage in vocal activism.
“I’m devastated and I’m outraged. I refuse to be quiet, private and invisible. I refuse to be a model minority, a permanent foreigner and a fetishized object,” Grabosky said.
Finding solutions and beginning to heal the wounds left by racism was a common sentiment among the speakers.
Skylar Walder, a freshman and member of the Student Government Association, said, “This is how we change; by talking and learning. This is how we start, by having the raw conversation. We all need to have it.” Many other students and faculty members gave their support and vowed to continue fighting for marginalized groups.
Mounica Kudumulla, a graduate student in the Counseling Department, said, “The violence and discrimination that is happening against all racial and ethnic groups is not acceptable. It stops right here and right now.”
Another graduate student, Laura Estavilla, said, “You hypersexualize our women and you castrate our men, yet you neglect our culture, our experiences, our identity and our pain. We are not invisible people with invisible burdens.”
Kathryn Newton, a counseling professior, offered tips to help activists. Shippensburg University President, Laurie Carter, vocalized her support at the vigil, “For my Asian brothers and sisters, I stand with you, because enough is enough. The time has come for each and every one of us to make a difference in the world, every day.”
Diane Jefferson, director of Multicultural Student Affairs (MSA), and Kapri Brown, assistant director of MSA, sang a powerful rendition of Ella Baker’s song “We Who Believe in Freedom Cannot Rest” to close the vigil. The crowd joined in the chorus “and the sound of voices raising gave light to a dark tunnel.”
To learn more about MSA, visit its website at www.ship.edu/life/clubs-organizations/msa/