Statement from History Chair on Anti-Asian Racism

April 7, 2021

Dear Cal History Community, 

As an American and a California resident, I wish to acknowledge and denounce, in the strongest possible terms, the surge of anti-Asian violence, harassment and invective documented recently by media and watchdog groups.  As Chairman of the Cal History Department, I feel compelled, in addition, to draw attention to the historical roots of the present crisis.  Research in multiple fields of history confirms that there is nothing especially new about the anti-Asian sentiment that we witness proliferating today.  It builds upon a tightly braided, deeply toxic legacy of racist immigration laws, imperialist ventures, displacement and internment policies, press campaigns, popular mentalities and patterns of cultural representation.  The obligation to resist anti-Asian racism is not an exclusive responsibility of historians, but it is our job, in my opinion, to help illuminate and explain the structural durability of this particular stain on our civic life.  Given this imperative, I want to thank the Cal History Graduate Association (HGA) for releasing a powerful and informative statement on anti-Asian racism on March 19 (see below). 

I stand in solidarity with our Asian-American community. 

Peter Zinoman, Department Chair