SPARCC categorically condemns the recent horrific acts of violence that have targeted the Asian-American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community. Our work in six metropolitan regions is deeply connected to the work of AAPI organizers, leaders, and communities. We act in solidarity with the AAPI community, now and always.
According to an analysis conducted by the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at CSU San Bernardino, in 2020, anti-Asian hate crimes surged by nearly 150% in the 16 biggest cities in the U.S. since 2019 (before COVID-19) with a disproportionate percentage of these attacks directed at Asian elders and women. Many attribute the increase in violence, particularly towards East Asians, to a misinformed and misguided understanding of the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic or the false perception that Asian-Americans have been less impacted economically by the pandemic.
Racism, xenophobia, and gendered violence against Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders is not new. The United States has a long history of committing acts of violence and discrimination against all communities of color—and those of AAPI heritage have had a unique history with violence and racism in the U.S., beginning with the Page Act of 1875, a federal anti-immigration law that specifically targeted, sexualized, and effectively forbid Chinese women from entering the country. The Page Act was soon followed by the better-known Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 which explicitly prohibited all immigration of Chinese laborers into the country. In 1942, an Executive Order authorized the removal and internment of almost 120,000 Americans of Japanese descent.
Most recently, these acts of discrimination and violence resulted in the shootings at three Georgia businesses that left eight dead—six of whom were women of Asian descent. The victims were Park Soon Chung, Hyun Jung Grant, Kim Sun Cha, Yu Yong Ae, Daoyou Feng, Paul Andre Michels, Xiaojie “Emily” Tan, and Delaina Ashley Yaun. Read more about the victims here.
During an official press conference, one police captain commented that the perpetrator “had a bad day, and that is what he did.” This is an example of how white supremacy tries to downplay the racial motivations behind attacks like these, and numbs us to violence against non-white bodies. An important contextual aspect of these attacks in Georgia is the anti-Asian rhetoric being adopted by some U.S. leaders. White supremacy tries to obfuscate this connection between language and violence, but we know that there are direct consequences between language that others people and violence.
We believe that it is critical to continue our work to dismantle systems that operate in white supremacy frameworks and tackle the deep roots of racism in this country. We recognize that racism and xenophobia towards our AAPI communities is deeply tied to Anti-Black racism, and are tactics of division created by white dominant culture. We believe that the only way to move forward is in shared liberation toward a vision of justice for all peoples.