The East Bay Community Law Center has deep respect for the history, culture, and lives of the Asian American and Pacific Islander community. We know that the contributions of our Asian American staff, clients, students, Board members, alumni and community members are fundamental to our pursuit of justice.
Thus, we feel enormous grief and outrage for the loss of life in Atlanta and the on-going hate violence against Asian American and Pacific Islander communities.
Much of the mainstream discourse on this tragedy is lacking. We are compelled to unequivocally recognize that the shooting was a hate crime. A white man, emboldened by recent and entrenched history, killed eight people, six of whom were Asian women. These killings cannot be divested from the long-enduring reality of institutionalized racism against Asian communities. For too long, violence has taken the form of murder, of anti-Asian political and social rhetoric, of classifying Asian students as “overrepresented” in college admissions, of physical assaults on low-income, elderly immigrants and women, and of companies openly requiring job applicants to be “non-Asian.” Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have long been discriminated against and targeted as the “perpetual other,” and vacillate between portrayals of the insidious and silent “model minority” or an existential threat. These nuances are important to call out, because this reflects the broader context of gendered, racial violence upheld by US institutions.
We are also compelled to name that imperialism and militarism are the root cause of violence towards Asian and Pacific Islander women, particularly sex workers and other workers. Thus, increasing police power and carceral responses would only uphold the same systems that enable state sanctioned violence across all communities of color. We hear our colleagues in the AAPI Community advocating for investments in antiviolent infrastructures, community–centered neighborhood safety initiatives, language justice, and wages and workplace protections that dignify their labor. We are in solidarity with this mandate.
As a woman of color-serving organization, we know that promoting the safety, dignity, and bodily autonomy of all women of color must be the cornerstone of any vision of a liberated future. Tuesday’s tragedy reflects how Asian women were specifically targeted and the collective work we must do to keep each other safe. A little under two months ago we were looking at Georgia and celebrating the critical mobilizing that Black women and Asian American voters did in the US Senate elections. As we mourn, we are also holding on to the light and our power.
The East Bay Community Law Center stands in solidarity with all Asian American and Pacific Islander communities here in the Bay Area and across the country.