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Statement of Solidarity From the Asian American Leaders Table on 9/11

Chinese Progressive Association: To mark the 20th anniversary of 9/11, the Asian American Leaders Table invited us and our colleagues in the Asian American and racial justice movements to remember and reflect on the past 20 years. We asked ourselves: How did the tragedy affect me, us, and our community? What are we still grappling with as communities of faith and communities of color? How do we use our collective power and resources to build a truly inclusive nation? Click the link below for some reflections that our Arab, Muslim and South Asian leaders offered and for the full statement of solidarity from the Asian American Leaders Table with additional resources:


September 10, 2021

As a network of local and national Asian American organizations that convened in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have been working together to address the rise in anti-Asian violence. Together, our collective voice has been louder and stronger in uplifting the shared strength of our communities and speaking out against racism and violence.

It is in that spirit that we offer reflections and commitments upon the 20th anniversary of September 11th and its aftermath. 9/11 lives in our memories as a day of unspeakable loss and pain. In the days, weeks and years that followed 9/11, we witnessed an unprecedented rise in hate violence, bullying, profiling and workplace discrimination targeting members of South Asian, Arab, Muslim and Sikh communities. In addition, government policies instituted in the US and abroad as part of the War on Terror led to war and torture, surveillance and profiling, and detentions and deportations. In response, South Asian, Arab, Muslim and Sikh organizations and advocates organized, resisted, and strengthened the power of grassroots movements.

To mark the 20th anniversary of 9/11, the Asian American Leaders Table invited our colleagues in the Asian American and racial justice movements to remember and reflect on the past 20 years. We asked ourselves: How did the tragedy affect me, us, and our community? What are we still grappling with as communities of faith and communities of color? How do we use our collective power and resources to build a truly inclusive nation?

Here are some reflections that Arab, Muslim and South Asian leaders offered:

“This narrative to fear and suspect Muslim and Middle Eastern communities has created this culture of scarcity that makes us think ‘well at least it isn’t us,’ rather than a culture of abundance that assumes there is enough freedom, enough humanity for all of us.”

“I’d like us to stop apologizing for 9/11. We were never supposed to have been apologizing to begin with. Stop forcing us to explain things we had nothing to do with.”

“We cannot continue to center our solutions around law enforcement. This doesn’t mean there’s no accountability when a hate crime is committed, but that as we seek whatever the currently available means for justice that do exist in our flawed system, that we also invest in creating the alternative.”

“Let’s start conversations, call each other in, and avoid engaging in the tactics used to divide us. Let’s have compassion as we work for accountability. Let’s listen more, empathize and work to build community and alliances across movements.”

“What we’ve become much more aware of in the last 20 years is an understanding of a history of state violence targeting immigrant communities of color in the US. We’re talking about immigration bans, surveillance, forced removals, mass roundups, detentions and deportations. We need to be prepared now, because there will be a racial backlash against Afghans here and we have to stand against that in solidarity and to protect the refugees arriving on our shores.”

“I’m hopeful that we will be able to continue to grow our communities’ power and do it in an intersectional, multigenerational way. The young people we’re working with now know nothing of the pre-9/11 experience. This is their reality, and that’s their future.”

On this 20th anniversary of 9/11, the Asian American Leaders Table recommits ourselves and our organizations to building deep and meaningful solidarity with South Asian, Arab, Muslim and Sikh communities. We condemn the misguided policies and climate that have targeted and harmed communities on the basis of their faith, race, national origin, and additional identities.

As we reflect on our collective movement for freedom and justice, we also acknowledge that Asian Americans can do much more to advocate for the rights of South Asians, Muslim, Sikh and Arab Americans. This means that we pay close attention to our own rhetoric and messages to avoid falling into stereotypical language or national security justifications. It means that we do not compromise on the rights of Muslim, Arab, South Asian and Sikh communities in advocating for public policies. It means incorporating the histories and perspectives of communities targeted in the wake of 9/11 within Asian American movement curricula and political education. It means recognizing that we are working against a shared source of oppression, and finding the commonalities and connections between the Islamophobia that profiled Muslims in the aftermath of 9/11 to the xenophobia that incarcerated Japanese Americans during World War II to the racism that’s driving the rise in anti-Asian violence during the COVID-19 pandemic.

We commit to learning from programs that are anchored in transformative solidarity such as Bridging Communities where the Japanese American Citizens League and Nikkei for Civil Rights and Redress (and later involved the Council on American-Islamic Relations) brought together Muslim and Japanese American youth to visit Manzanar, building connnections from a shared history of being treated as outsiders in their own homes.

We also look to Vigilant Love as another way to move forward. Created in a time of rapid response following the 2015 shooting in San Bernardino, this Los Angeles-based group of Muslim and Japanese American leaders are challenging Islamophobia through direct action, political education, and arts performances.

We look to the solidarity between the children of incarcerated Japanese Americans who stood side by side with Muslims and Africans affected by the Trump Administration’s Muslim and African bans.

Our work will continue beyond the 20th anniversary of 9/11. Today, we are witnessing another consequence of the War on Terror with the US withdrawal from Afghanistan. Our communities add our voices to the call for welcoming Afghan refugees to the United States.

As Asian Americans, it is our responsibility to step up and speak out. Solidarity in a post-9/11 America asks us to acknowledge the pain and injustice inflicted on Arab, Muslim, Sikh and South Asian communities; to stand together as Asian Americans, engaged in a steadfast practice of building relationships beyond our identity groups; and to commit to our collective movement for freedom and justice. We are here to answer that call.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES – We’ve compiled a list of additional resources and initiatives related to the 20th anniversary of 9/11. This is a non-exhaustive list; please further research and support Arab, Middle Eastern, Muslim and South Asian (AMEMSA)-led organizations.

Building Upon AAPI Organizing During the 2020 Election

Reflecting on the community mobilization and organizing they engaged in during the 2020 election, our network partners are committed to continuing to defend and protect the right to vote, increase AAPI voter turnout and representation, and organize to make sure policies and elected officials reflect our community concerns and conditions. Read some of the statements and campaigns our network partners have released after the 2020 election, showcasing how they plan to continue the fight for democracy, the strategies they utilized and learned, and how you can get involved in future elections and their civic engagement efforts.

After the election, DRUM – Desis Rising Up and Moving announced the tasks they had of defending the right to vote, defending the integrity of election results, and getting organized to continue building independent working-class power. As community members are facing, “imminent evictions, facing unemployment, still grieving their loved ones lost to the pandemic, being brutalized by the police, or waiting in long food pantry lines,” DRUM recognizes that our interests and needs are not being reflected, thus reinforcing the need for us to continue to build community power. Read more about their campaign and how you can learn here: http://bit.ly/PowerSafetySolidarity 

Hmong Innovating Politics noted that, “despite millions of dollars stacked against them, our young people, volunteers, and outreach specialists did an outstanding job in mobilizing residents in Fresno and Sacramento. They spent countless hours on the phone, engaged thousands of first time voters, helped contact 35,000 AAPI voters throughout the Central Valley, and were part of a multi-racial, multi-generational coalition that drove the largest AAPI voter turnout in the history of California.” HIP is committed to continuing to train leaders, build with their allies to ensure immigrant communities are represented in politics and decisions, and connect with community members who are still disconnected and are not civically and politically engaged. Read HIP’s entire post-election reflection here.

Reflecting on the 2020 election and beyond, Freedom Inc stated: “We won because we engaged over 13,000 Black and Southeast Asian folx in Dane County and raised consciousness around the multiple oppressions we are living through. We won because we have learned how this current system works and we know we are better equipped to govern ourselves. We won because we mobilized roughly over 3,000 people to the streets, to show that WE, THE PEOPLE, hold COLLECTIVE POWER, and when WE MOVE, our oppressors shake. We organized our communities to envision liberation; that vision mobilized our communities to demand change and deliver this win.” Freedom Inc. will continue to fight to hold systems accountable to community demands through mutual aid efforts and grassroots community-led campaigns. Read their entire statement here and sign up to volunteer with Freedom Inc. to help build power at bit.ly/CPBvolunteer.

Action Alert: Drop the Charges Against SEAA Organizers

VietLead’s Executive Director, Nancy Nguyen, and a group of Freedom Fighters were targeted for speaking out publicly against ICE Director Tony Pham for using his Viet refugee status to spearhead their terror campaign against Black and Brown immigrant and refugee communities. As the government frequently criminalizes Freedom Fighters like Nancy Nguyen who speak out against human rights abuses and imprisons them with bogus charges, take action today and stand with movement leaders and groups who are fighting for justice by signing the Nat’l Statement Demanding Commonwealth Atty. Shannon Taylor to Drop the Charges. We call on all who are against injustice to sign on to this Drop the Charges Demand letter. To join the movement to demand to drop ALL charges, use the action tool kit.

Read Nancy Nguyen’s Op-Ed in The Philadelphia Inquirer


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2020 Census and Voter Registration

Ranging from local to national efforts to increase civic engagement within and representation for AANHPI communities across the country, many of our network partners have initiated their own campaigns and mobilization efforts to engage and encourage political participation through the 2020 Census and voter registration for the November elections.

Rising Voices for Asian American Families has been providing information on the 2020 Census and encouraging communities in Michigan to complete the census through their 2020 Census Pledge. Now more than ever, it is glaringly obvious how important it is for our communities to be visible and accurately counted. The availability of culturally competent medical services and public health information and updates is informed by the data that the census aims to capture. Take action and get counted today, for our communities’ fair share of funding, resources, and representation! Remind your family, friends, and loved ones to fill out their census (online, by phone, or by mail) and for them to inform their networks. The census is available to be completed in 13 different languages, and census language guides are available in both video and print form in 59 non-English languages. More information on 2020 Census guidelines and resources can be found here.

North Carolina Asian Americans Together (NCAAT) is committed to raising the visibility and voice of the AANHPI population in North Carolina through building up and motivating an electorate throughout the state. More work needs to be done to bridge the gap between registered voters and the voting-eligible population in AANHPI communities. One key way they achieve this goal is through voter registration drives conducted in communities with high AANHPI populations with the help of volunteers, particularly individuals from the local AANHPI communities. Read more about how NCAAT actively engages with communities to amplify their voices and join their effort to increase AANHPI representation and voice in North Carolina!

Learn and Grow as Anti-Racist Activists, Advocates, and Allies

In the wake of the murders of George Floyd and so many others, we have been reminded of the anti-Blackness that exists in our community. As an organization of Muslim women committed to building sisterhood and advancing social equity, Reviving Sisterhood is opening space for our community to learn and grow as anti-racist activists, advocates, and allies. Please visit our anti-Blackness resource page to learn about places to begin or continue your anti-racism journey.


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