A Message from our Executive Director, Rich Stolz
When I first heard about the mass shooting in Atlanta, I couldn’t help but wonder why the pandemic hadn’t slowed the ongoing epidemic of gun violence in America.
And then I learned about the victims. Eight killed altogether, six of them Asian women, all of them in or around massage parlors. This was not a random act of violence.
And then I began reading the statements – countless statements from community organizations, elected leaders, editorial boards, and I just felt… tired.
As a Korean-born, Asian American man, this is what I feel.
It doesn’t matter how long you or your family have lived here. In the fallacious white-is-normal confines of the American imagination, or in the binary black/white narrative of race prevalent in America, Asians don’t fit. They’ll still ask you where you’re really from, assuming some exotic foreign-ness. And don’t expect them to know the difference between Korea and China or Indonesia and the Philippines.
In American history, the consequences of this ignorance is disastrous. Asian immigrants are excluded, Asian-Americans are expelled and incarcerated. And when the fears and insecurities of White men turn into outbursts of violence, Asian American women and men who are otherwise unnoticed and ignored, exploited or envied suffer this violence.
I feel anger, frustration, sorrow and alarm.
Because as has been well documented, violence against Asians has spiked during the pandemic. According to CISC, “Since mid-2020, we have recorded more than 170 incidents of hate and bias reported by community members.” This follows similar trends tracked nationally by Stop AAPI Hate, which released a report earlier this month documenting 3,795 incidents (verbal abuse, shunning, physical violence, civil rights violations, and on-line harassment). In that report, Washington State had the third most reported incidents.
OneAmerica envisions a peaceful world where every person’s human rights and dignity are respected, where communities appreciate differences and stand together for justice and equality, and where each person contributes to the common good.
At the root of this violence is the corrupting power of White supremacy and the inherited trauma of slavery, colonialism and imperialism. The fight to protect Asian communities is a fight rooted in an age-old struggle over power and survival, recognition and justice. And it underscores, especially in this moment in American history, the shared struggle for Black lives and BIPOC liberation.
That is also why I feel gratitude. In a way I haven’t seen in some time, the national multi-ethnic and progressive AAPI movement has come out in force. And I couldn’t be prouder of the community in Washington State.
Thank you to the reporters that focused on humanizing the victims of the Georgia killings.
Thank you to NAKASEC for calling it as I saw it: “Sexual exploitation and misogyny, intertwined with racism, resulted in a white man dehumanizing Asian women as “temptations” and objects to eliminate.”
Thank you to to API Chaya and the Massage Parlor Outreach Project for valuing and honoring women: “Many immigrant and migrant Asian women work at the intersections of care services and the sex industry. Both forms of labor are devalued and stigmatized in our societies. API Chaya honors their work. We stand with all massage parlor workers and sex workers, including those who are undocumented and working class. We organize to build a world where their needs are met, rights are upheld, and where they have accessible and safe options for their livelihoods.” Their helpline number is 1-877-922-4292.
Thank you to the Coalition Against Hate and Bias, which partnered with King County’s Office of Equity and Social Justice soon after the pandemic began, when it was already clear that hate crimes against Asians were rising, as politicians like the former President blamed China for the COVID pandemic.
Thank you to AAPI Against Hate for being in the streets even before the murders in Atlanta and bringing attention to the growing wave of anti-Asian violence here in Washington State and across the country.
Thank you to NAPAWF for leading the charge nationally for action by elected officials, demanding that they “center the needs of the communities on the ground, tackle the systemic racism and white supremacy that continues to plague our nation, and address the needs of the survivors with services such as increased culturally informed victim support, community support, meaningful physical and mental health access including for all immigrants, and economic assistance that focuses on those who need it most.”
Thank you to ACRS for not falling into the rut of more law enforcement resources to address social issues, and reaffirming your “commitment to divest from our criminal legal system that polices, prosecutes, and incarcerates Black and Brown communities and instead turn our capacity toward community-based solutions. We refuse to applaud or support elected officials and decision-makers who offer us band-aid solutions that put more police in our neighborhoods and perpetrators in jail. If these solutions kept us safe, our communities would not be grieving right now. We instead ask our state and city to uplift, amplify, and invest in the work that our community is already doing to keep us safe.”
Let’s follow the lead of these wonderful Asian American and Pacific Islander leaders who are leaning into multi-racial solidarity and gender justice.
Let’s use this moment to reconnect with each other and with our vision of a just and inclusive society.
Let’s not forget our history as a nation, and the role that immigration policy has played in institutionalizing bias and discrimination against Asian and other people of color across the world.
Let’s lean into this moment of racial reckoning in our nation’s history, and recognize the impact of White supremacy on all of our communities.
Let’s ground ourselves in the knowledge that through organizing, we can spark hope and create change.
Let’s firmly assert that our multi-ethnic, progressive BIPOC-led movement for immigrant and refugee justice belongs. We all belong.
Report incidents of hate/bias here: https://cisc-seattle.org/report-an-incident-of-hate-or-bias/.
Get bystander intervention training here: https://www.ihollaback.org.
A list of AAPI organizations in Washington State can be found here, on the website of the Commission on Asian Pacific American Affairs.
Mental Health Resources: