Anti-Asian violence and discrimination has been on the rise throughout the pandemic; and we must all stand up and speak up against it. These incidents are antithetical to the values we continue to claim we hold as a country. Tuesday's senseless murders of eight individuals are only the most recent tragedy amongst too many. Feelings of sadness and anger have reverberated throughout our VISIONS community. VISIONS condemns these racist acts, and to our Asian American brothers and sisters within VISIONS and throughout the country - we hear you and we see you. Your lives, your wellbeing, and your humxnity are valuable and valued.
The killings were violent and dehumxnizing. The suspect attributing his actions to his "sexual addiction" was a deplorable move that is deeply entangled with race, gender, and power. The suspect's claim that he was not racially motivated only makes the racism even more clear. The deputy Sheriff's statement that the suspect was just having a "bad day", were nothing short of misogynistic, entitled, and racist.
This violence is a type of normalized racism and xenophobia. This racism is steeped in colonial history, as white men have, for centuries, stolen the freedom, resources, and the humxnity from other countries, including many Asian countries and cultures; while creating this idea that Asian womxn are cheap and disposable. Today, the stereotypes that popular media perpetuates of the exotic, submissive Asian temptress without agency leads to sexual objectification and reflects a hard truth about this country's legacy of racism.
Stop AAPI Hate reports that there were 3,795 reported hate incidents in the last 12 months, which represents only a fraction of the actual number of hate incidents. Anti-Asian hate crime in 16 of America’s largest cities increased 149% in 2020 (while such crimes in 2020 decreased overall by 7%), with the first spike occurring in March and April amidst a rise in COVID cases and negative stereotyping of Asians relating to the pandemic.
To support the healing of our Asian-American communities, we must continue to be a model for what the world could be and share our learnings with others so they learn how to coexist respectfully. Dr. Martin Luther King said, "Hate begets hate; violence begets violence; toughness begets a greater toughness. We must meet the forces of hate with the power of love." Bigotry only corrodes our shared humxnity. My hope is that we can join together and repair the divisiveness that currently exists in our country in a lasting way, through repeated learning, connecting, discovering of one another’s differences. Only with that can we truly recognize and value each other's full humxnity.
Elika Dadsetan-Foley, Executive Director