Statement of Support on COVID-19

Arab and Muslim Studies (AMAS), Latina/o Studies (LS),
Asian/Pacific Islander Studies (APIA), Native American Studies (NAS) 

We are reaching out as your teachers, mentors, advisors, and friends to express our support during this difficult time. We want you to know that even though the spaces where we usually create community on this campus—our classrooms, lecture halls and meeting rooms—now stand empty, we are still here for you. 

In Ethnic Studies classes we teach about how our communities have persevered through unimaginable trials: genocide and dispossession, colonization and slavery, internment, detention, and mass imprisonment, racism, anti-immigrant hatred and Islamophobia. We do this work because we believe that these histories, however painful, hold vital reservoirs of knowledge that have helped us to survive and thrive. This work must continue even during this crisis as we combat a new round of COVID-19 specific racism against Asian and Pacific Islander Americans and inhumane ICE raids. 

We acknowledge that these are scary times—the whole world seems upended and the future uncertain—but our communities have been here before, and our histories tell the story of how we got through it. So even in this deeply unsettling moment in our collective story as a nation and a global community, we should reflect on our shared history of struggle and remember to value and protect our elders who hold knowledge about the past that is critical to our future. They are our collective memory, the precious archive that we turn to in these difficult times. 

We urge you to stay calm and take all the necessary and advised precautions to protect yourself and your loved ones from contracting and spreading the Coronavirus. There are currently over 300 confirmed cases in Michigan and that number is projected to rise at a fast pace (as it did in Italy), unless we take precautions. The amount of information out there can be overwhelming and most of you probably feel OK, but what we do know about the virus is that it takes a while to present symptoms but can be contagious even when an individual is asymptomatic, endangering those who are really vulnerable to the disease like the elderly and those with weakened immune systems. Thus the recommendation coming from most quarters has been “physical distancing” to flatten the curve, at least for the next few weeks. This article on social distancing offers an excellent illustration of the practice: We owe this small sacrifice to our elders and to the most vulnerable in our community. 

This period of isolation does not have to be isolating. Rather it means staying connected to each other in other ways, which are actually really familiar, like text messages, facebook, tik tok, 

Instagram and Twitter, videos, google hangouts, and Skype etc. It is also recommended that you get out in the sun and fresh air — take a walk, bike, roll or run (while keeping a nice healthy physical distance from the folks you don’t live with daily). We encourage you to do this now, so that you protect your families and loved ones as/when you return to wherever home may be. 

While we in Ethnic Studies understand that we can’t know exactly how the current challenges are affecting you collectively or individually, we realize that this is a very challenging moment for everyone and an especially disruptive moment for some of you, depending on your circumstances. We are here to support you and are committed to doing so in whatever way we can. Despite the necessarily “remote” nature of our connections for the time being, we hope that you’ll communicate with us, your advisors, instructors, and our staff in American Culture to let us know if there are specific ways that we can provide support. 

We look forward to a time when we can once again work hand in hand with you and build a better, more equitable future for everyone. 

Maria Cotera, Director Latina/o Studies (
Hitomi Tonomura, Director, A/PIA Studies (
Su’ad Abdul Khabeer, Director Arab and Muslim American Studies (
Michael Witgen, Director, Native American Studies (
Magdalena Zaborowska, AC/DAAS (

Here are a few resources that might be helpful during this time as well: 

WHO Twitter thread on Mental Health and psychosocial considerations during COVID19 outbreak:

Coronavirus One-Pager In English: In Spanish: