By MaLaysia Mitchell | Marketing Manager
During the height of summer 2020, the nation gathered in support of the Black Lives Matter Movement in response to the deaths of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and countless others across the nation.
While the BLM Movement took center stage seeking justice, the nation experienced the highest rate of hate crimes seen in the last decade, which went largely unnoticed until this winter. The coronavirus pandemic further emboldened racist slandering, threats, and attacks on Asian communities, heightening alert.
Horrifically, some of these ongoing crimes are even targeting the elderly. Misplaced blame for the COVID-19 pandemic and the previous presidential administration’s refusal to abandon the label “Chinese Virus” fueled anti-Asian sentiments that are still active.
Racism Is Insidious
Stop AAPI Hate, an organization that aims to support incident reporting along with providing resources to Asian American and Pacific Islander communities, received 3,292 notices of “hate incidents” in 2020 and 503 more as of February 28, 2021.
The most recent report found that 68.1% of incidents were forms of verbal harassment and 11.1% were physical assault. Since many crimes go unreported, these figures are an under-estimated indication of the need for policy and advocacy efforts and for the disarming of hateful rhetoric.
As perpetrators are brought to terms with the justice system, this issue is notably not black and white (pun intended). Those who have committed acts of violence against Asians have been white, Black, and Latino.
We are all susceptible to oppress those who are not like us, regardless of our own race. Anti-racism conversations amongst our communities are essential to ending racism, not just with those who identify as white. We can all do some evaluating of how we perpetuate racial biases.
Building Black and Asian Solidarity
One community’s suffering does not invalidate the oppression of another. Recently there’s been increased debate and frustration on the disparities in support of the Black Lives Matter Movement and Stop AAPI Hate. However, the pitting of one movement against the other creates unproductive rivalry amongst oppressed groups, weakening the force of change.
That only furthers the harm that the racist model minority myth has been accomplishing in the past century.
Although a dichotomous position can be tempting, Black and Asian leaders are calling out for solidarity. Asian leaders have spoken out against increased policing policies, noting the harm it can have on Black and Latino communities, and the Black Lives Matter Movement has denounced the recent attacks in a public statement. There have been Black and Asian solidarity rallies, discussions with the NAACP, and strategy sessions on how to move forward in unity. That unity dismantles the white supremacy that has disrupted the flourishing of both groups.
As a community committed to racial justice work, we start by listening to and validating all experiences because there is a greater problem at hand: structural and institutionalized racism. And that systemic racism cannot be eradicated by only doing the work for one racial and ethnic group.
The events of the last year reveal that America is enslaved by racism and in need of desperate rehabilitation. Under the guise of civility and the tactics of covert racism, the nation has operated with apathy to race relations. However, the pandemic has exposed the rawness of the nation’s many racial wounds.
Unaddressed prejudice, discrimination, verbal and physical hate crimes, and racially and sexually motivated killings can be found in the underpinnings of this country. This dusty underpinning also includes who is allowed in the country, left to drown, or denied asylum, which we’ll address in an upcoming article. The recent Atlanta spa shootings do not fall short of this legacy.
There is much to grieve from this tragedy, including the loss of those who were murdered and the continued deterioration of our nation’s consciousness.
If you are of Asian descent and would like to share your story, connect with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Stop AAPI Hate and this research guide on education, mental health, and donations serve as additional resources for learning more and taking action in support of Asian communities. The Anti-Defamation League has a center creating policy and research specifically around online hate as well. Other policies to support include increased gun restrictions and civil rights protections.