The pandemic was already tough, but the surge in bigotry against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders made it worse. Nonprofit Stop AAPI Hate started tracking incidents last year and reported significant increases even this past spring. From the spa murders in Atlanta to hateful rhetoric in Seattle, the verbal and physical attacks are inexcusable.
Tragically, we’ve seen this behavior before. Chinese immigrants have lived and worked in the Pacific Northwest for well over 175 years and experienced outbreaks of racist violence and discrimination. As we reflect on the stories about Chinese residents of the Inland Northwest in this issue’s feature, we should acknowledge and embrace their lasting contributions to the region. The pandemic brought out ugliness toward Asian Americans, and it forces us to consider again how we treat each other.
COVID-19 pushed people to rethink many things and at WSU that meant academics, research, student life, public health, and most aspects of campus life. Sometimes there were silver linings in the dark clouds of the last year, from creation of art by online students to innovative research and successful vaccination efforts.
Even before we dealt with the pandemic, WSU had been finding better ways to open possibilities for first-generation and low-income students through TRIO programs. With support and guidance from dedicated staff, hundreds of students navigate the unfamiliar terrain of college and become accomplished Cougar alumni.
The WSU spirit of creativity shows up in research, too. As people age or sustain sports-related injuries, there’s a growing need for joint replacements. WSU engineering researchers use 3D printing to make longer-lasting hip and knee replacements that fit better. Other scientists are even working on 3D-printed cartilage for knees, which could have significant impact on treatment of osteoarthritis.
We don’t need to be researchers to reconsider the world. It can be what we eat—we should look again at the humble cabbage—or it can be how we’re entertained. WSU Vancouver professor John Barber and Dan Wyatt (’96 Comm.) have embraced the new and old with reimagined radio dramas and audioscapes.
We all benefit from taking a puzzle, turning it around, and looking at it from different angles. Whether we are making communities more just by stopping hatred and racism, or we’re finding new ways to teach, research, and create music or art, I would encourage all of us to reimagine the world.
P.S. It’s been 20 years!
Thank you for being a dedicated reader and friend of the magazine. (YouTube video)