Opinion: Call the Atlanta shootings what they are

To our APIDA community, we see you and acknowledge you

  • Friday, March 19, 2021 4:21pm
  • Opinion

By member of Alaska Asian Pacific Islander and Desi Americans

Alaska Asian Pacific Islander and Desi Americans is deeply saddened by the horrific events that occurred in Atlanta on Tuesday. In an act of hate against the Asian community, eight lives were lost. Our hearts go out to the families who lost loved ones, and those across this country and the world who are grieving. We are tired, hurt and angry, and we need our communities to do better. It is important for us to acknowledge that what occurred in Atlanta was a hate crime, specifically targeting Asian Americans. Asian women in particular face fetishization rooted in violent misogyny, colonization and white supremacy. This violence must end.

In the past year alone, StopAAPIHate has reported 3,800 hate incidents against Asian Americans. Issues facing the Asian community have too often been dismissed under the guise of the Asian ‘model minority’ myth and the ‘passive’ Asian stereotype. This is a toxic and false generalization. In addition, these stereotypes further marginalize our Pacific Islander, South East Asian, and Desi American communities as these wrongful East Asian narratives overshadow the broad experience of the APIDA community in the often used umbrella term Asian Pacific Islander. The APIDA community is extremely diverse in culture, language, appearance, socioeconomic class, and experiences. The APIDA community has a history of fighting alongside the movement for equity and liberation for all people, and we continue to do so. We are not and will not be silent. We are not convenient scapegoats.

The many issues our communities face are complex, and many of them intersect with the work of Black and Indigenous community leaders and activists. If we are to seek true justice, our communities must turn up the volume in condemning systems of white supremacy, colonization and patriarchy on which this country was founded. These harmful systems affect all of us and this legacy is directly connected to the violence we continue to experience today. We are in solidarity with Black, Indigenous, and queer communities because our liberation is inextricably tied to their struggle. Historically and to this day, these communities lead the way for collective liberation. As we shine light on the recent Asian hate crimes, we simultaneously uplift the issues of poverty, violence, police brutality, and discrimination our broader APIDA, Black, Indigenous, and LGBTQ2ia+ communities face. We uplift and fight alongside their efforts to end violence against BIPOC communities, especially BIPOC women and LGBTQ2ia+ communities.

In this moment, we challenge our communities to think and act radically. Ask your state legislators what they are doing in response to systemic racism. There is no silver bullet to all our issues, but right now we have the opportunity to support legislation on police reform (SB 1-4, SB7, SB46) and mental health education in our school systems (HB60). Thank you Sen. Elvi Gray-Jackson and Sen. Tom Begich for working to address unchecked police brutality, especially in light of the disproportionate police violence against Pacific Islanders in Anchorage. Thank you Representative Claman and Representative Zulkosky for addressing mental health in our schools. Increasing access to and de-stigmatizing mental health is an important aspect of addressing racism. The targeted shooting of Asian women may have been avoided had the perpetrator received appropriate mental health treatment and been denied gun ownership. Lastly, local elections are incredibly important, and we urge our APIDA community to cast an informed vote on April 6.

We also recognize that this work is never easy, and that joy itself can be a radical act. In moments when you feel that you are losing your way, know that we are here to support you and create joy in community with each other. Take a moment to breathe. Take a moment to laugh and dance and cry in joyful defiance. We are here, we are surviving, and together, we can work to honor ourselves, our ancestors, and the communities that we love.

• Nithya Thiru, Su Chon, Vanessa Tufaga, Bhavisha Bhalsod, Joshua Albeza Branstetter, David Song, Linda Thai LMSW, Liza Tran, Lynette Y. Pham, Nabi Qureshi, Sonia V. Kumar, Genevieve Mina and Kengo Nagaoka are members of Alaska Asian Pacific Islander and Desi Americans. Columns, My Turns and Letters to the Editor represent the view of the author, not the view of the Juneau Empire. Have something to say? Here’s how to submit an opinion piece.

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