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This piece was originally published in the March 18, 2021 edition of CAP Action’s daily newsletter, the Progress Report. Subscribe to the Progress Report here.
“[You are] putting a bull’s eye on the back of Asian-Americans across this country — on our grandparents, on our kids.”
— Rep. Grace Meng (D-NY) at a Congressional hearing on anti-Asian violence today after one of her colleagues defended the use of a racial slur
Racist rhetoric is more than words. It’s violence.
Our hearts are with the families of the victims of Tuesday’s horrific shootings in Atlanta. We must reject and work to end anti-Asian racism in all its forms.
IN THE NEWS
- On Tuesday night, an armed man opened fire at three different massage spas in the Atlanta metro area, killing eight people and leaving one person injured. Six of the eight victims were Asian women. At least one of the locations was marketed as an Asian spa. According to witnesses, the suspect (who we won’t name here) verbally expressed his intent to kill Asian people during the massacre. These tragic, racist attacks on a community which was already enduring a devastating uptick in violence have ignited necessary conversations about anti-Asian violence in the U.S. and the continued prevalence of misogyny and racism against Asians and Asian-Americans, and particularly against working-class AAPI women.
- The attacks in Atlanta were not, of course, isolated incidents. Anti-Asian racism has been present throughout our country’s history, from the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 to the racist internment of Japanese American families less than a century ago. And although it may look different now than it did back then, this week’s tragic violence serves as a reminder that anti-Asian racism is still a huge problem and a threat to the lives of Asians and Asian-Americans across the country.
- Many in the AAPI community say the Atlanta attacks didn’t come as a surprise. Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, and even more prominently so in recent weeks, there’s been a rise in hate crimes and violence against Asians and Asian-Americans. At least 32 cases of anti-Asian violence took place in Georgia last year, according to a December report.
- The pandemic-induced uptick can’t be overstated. Stop AAPI Hate, which tracks hate crimes against AAPIs, received more than 2,800 reports of anti-Asian violence in the U.S. from March through October of last year alone. As of February 28, 2021, that number has increased to 3,795. And that’s only counting incidents that have been reported to the organization. There are, undoubtedly, hundreds if not thousands more cases that have gone untracked or without consequences.
If you’re able to donate and are looking for a way to support the Asian and Asian-American community amid this surge of racist violence, these organizations are a good place to start:
- The National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF) works to empower and elevate AAPI women to create systemic change through litigation, policy work, and organizing. You can support them here.
- Asian Americans Advancing Justice (AAJC) fights to advance civil and human rights for Asian Americans and to build a fair and equitable society for all. AAJC’s recent work includes pushing for accessibility in the 2020 Census, running a voter protection hotline with assistance in nine Asian languages, maintaining a database of anti-AAPI hate crimes, advocating for racial and immigrant justice in the courts, and testifying before Congress. You can support them here.
This is not a donation to CAP Action. We make no warranties regarding the tax deductible status of donations made to these links.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
- Seizing on the pandemic as an excuse to preach racism, public figures like Donald Trump and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy have repeatedly used their platforms to spout anti-Asian tropes and to falsely paint Asians and Asian-Americans as perpetrators of the coronavirus pandemic. Trump was on Fox News as recently as Tuesday night — the same night the shootings took place — spouting racist, anti-Asian slurs in connection with the pandemic. It’s the same playbook used to justify racist internment camps during World War II and countless other shameful, violent injustices in American history.
- In a press conference following the attacks on Wednesday, Jay Baker, a local law enforcement official, seemingly tried to brush off the white, male shooting suspect’s deadly targeting of Asian women who worked at massage spas, telling reporters that “yesterday was a really bad day for him.” The Daily Beast later uncovered Facebook posts from Baker less than a year ago in which he touted a shirt he’d just purchased that displayed anti-Asian slurs and suggested a connection to the coronavirus pandemic. Oh, and the company selling the racist shirts received a PPP loan last year under Trump.
- For more on the impacts of elected officials spouting anti-Asian rhetoric, Stop AAPI Hate recently compiled this report on the use of anti-Asian slurs by candidates and public officials in the lead up to last year’s election.
- In light of this tragic massacre, President Biden and Vice President Harris are set to meet with leaders from the Asian-American community in Atlanta tomorrow. Their trip to Georgia was originally scheduled as a stop on the White House’s “Help is Here” tour to promote the American Rescue Plan.
WHAT WE’RE READING
- Stop AAPI Hate is an initiative organized by AAPI organizations in response to the surge of racism, xenophobia, and bigotry during the pandemic. They maintain a database to track and report incidents of anti-Asian racism. If you’ve witnessed or experienced anti-Asian hate, you can report the incident on their website. They also published this guide to ensure victims of these attacks understand their right to be treated without discrimination in public places.
- ‘We need protection’: Georgia official addressed anti-Asian violence two days before shooting by Errin Haines (19th News)
- Asian Americans were already living in fear. The Atlanta-area spa killings feel like a terrifying escalation for them by Nicole Chavez (CNN)
- America’s history of racism against Asians and the importance of authentic representation on film & TV by Brian Tee (Deadline)
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