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AAU | Statement, Resources, & Action Items on Violence Against Asian Community

AAU Statement on Violence Against Asian Community + Resources & Action Items

These past few weeks, US headlines and news sources have been highlighting a significant increase in anti-Asian harassment and violence since early 2020 with more than 3000 documented incidents across the country. Most recently, we grieve Vicha Ratanapakdee, an 84-year-old man from Thailand who suffered fatal injuries after being shoved to the ground on one of his daily walks. We stand in solidarity with Noel Quintana, who was slashed across the face on the New York City subway, the 71-year-old grandma who was knocked to the ground and robbed in Oakland, the 91-year-old grandpa who was shoved to the sidewalk on a sunny day in Oakland Chinatown. We feel the pain of the families and friends of those who have been victims of racist violence.

Amidst these stories, we also must say the name of Christian Hall, the 19-year-old Chinese American teen who was fatally shot by the Pennsylvania State Police when Hall was undergoing a mental health crisis. Although the victims of anti-Asian violence may initially seem unrelated to Hall’s case, AAU believes that the oppressive systems of our society and the blatant disinvestment in public services not only allow these incidents of violence to persist, but create them in the first place. Thus, all these seemingly disparate stories are tied together. In these moments of anger, grief, and sorrow AAU wants to encourage our community to connect our pain to that of the Black community immense and unjust losses at the hands of police. We all suffer under white supremacy and no minoritized or economically disenfranchised community in the United States is able to avoid its violence.

Just a year ago, in March 2020, AAU convened a community forum on the rising number of incidents of anti-Asian harassment and violence across the country. This increase was broadly attributed to the administration’s stoking of public bias and anti-Chinese sentiment (i.e. using terms like “kung-flu”) as news spread about the first reported cases of Covid-19 in Wuhan. At the forum, eight Philadelphia Asian leaders discussed recent anti-Asian incidents and the rising levels of fear and stress in our communities. A year later, we are again hearing reports of anti-Asian violence, with some of the most egregious reported recent incidents occurring  on the West Coast. 

Throughout AAU’s 35 year history, we have seen many incidents of anti-Asian violence, harassment and hate crimes. We know that these racially motivated events have also been a long part of our nation’s history and increase especially during times of upheaval when community members turn blame and fear towards each other rather than towards larger systemic causes. 

Whether it is one incident or many, the effects of violence aimed at our communities can be felt across age, gender, class, or Asian ethnic/cultural background. Our youth, their parents, and our elders are afraid— often on a daily basis. Additionally, we all come from histories of societal discord, war, violence, immigration, displacement. Incidents in the current moment raise our communal memories of incidents in the past. And during this pandemic, there is less space for continued efforts towards generational healing. 

When these incidents occur and fears are stoked, we see our own communities’ racism rise (especially targeting black communities). Again, the histories in our communities where Asians and Black people have been pitted against one another leave us disconnected, angry, unaware of the privilege that Asian communities have been granted over Black and Latinx communities, unaware of our own racism. Our community leaders end up calling for increased police presence and gun ownership. We get more entrenched in a vicious cycle that this country has perpetuated since it began.

At AAU, we are concerned at how difficult it is to remember in difficult times to look at a larger picture— at the whole situation of larger systemic failure. The pandemic shows the many holes through which our communities can fall under the inhumane system we live in. Millions and millions of people in the U.S. are without work, adequate healthcare, food, or shelter. Millions of people are incarcerated. Thousands of people in our immigrant and refugee communities are facing deportation and detention in this incarceration system. How can we expect crime and tensions in our communities not to rise in these circumstances?

We must not blame each other. The solution to violence cannot be more violence. Our communities need linguistically accessible resources, mental health services, cross-racial community, solidarity building, and restorative justice programs.

We must look further. We must dismantle our history of economic inequity and racism. Who are the wealthy people benefiting every day from the suffering of the oppressed? Who are the people who reinforce this oppressive system every day to protect their profits and privilege? It is so difficult to consider that we may have more in common with even those who target our Asian elders and youth with violence  than we do with those who keep their hands clean while the systems of oppression do their dirty work for them— keeping us from lives with dignity and plenty where we could begin to heal from centuries of damage, violence and disconnection. 

In this moment, we ask our communities to continue envisioning and enacting safe and just futures that honor everyone’s humanity and make reparations for historic and ongoing oppression. Ask how conservative visions of a safe community (more police, more firearms) will perpetuate both anti-Black and anti-Asian violence. Ask what will really have to change in our society so that none of our community members are faced with the many forms of violence (physical, economic, emotional) we are confronted with every day.  Fight for justice for Christian Hall as a part of a lineage of murder that follows Walter Wallace, Briana Taylor, George Floyd, Eric Garner, and too many more.

Action Items:

View the list of resources and suggested readings here!