Equal Rights Advocates’ Statement on the Attacks on the AAPI Community
Soon Chung Park. Yong Ae Yue. Daoyou Feng. Hyun Jung Grant. Delaina Yaun. Paul Andre Michels. Suncha Kim. Xiaojie Tan.
We say their names.
The staff and Board of Equal Rights Advocates send our deepest condolences to the families of the eight people killed in Georgia last week, six of them Asian women. We are horrified and saddened by this horrific attack. We are also grimly reminded that this event cannot be separated from America’s long, ugly history of structural racism, persistent socioeconomic inequity, and violent misogyny.
These crimes have no place in an equitable, inclusive, and just America – yet they have a long history in America. If we are to support AAPI communities, we cannot turn away from that reality.
The recent physical violence at Asian-owned businesses happens amid a dramatic (and largely unacknowledged by mainstream media) escalation in attacks against AAPI community members. Hate and violence against Asian-Americans skyrocketed nearly 150 percent last year, with Asian American women twice as likely to be targeted. The Pew Research Center finds about one-third of Asian adults say they have been subjected to slurs or jokes about their race or ethnicity since the coronavirus outbreak began last year. Stop AAPI Hate, a coalition formed at the beginning of the pandemic, aimed at monitoring anti-Asian hatred, received nearly 3,800 incident reports over the past year. They have rightly highlighted, in the words of Dr. Kimberle Crenshaw, the “intersectional vulnerability” AAPI women experience. This vulnerability is multifold.
For AAPI women, racism often takes the form of unwanted come-ons, and sexual harassment is often overtly racist. The escalation of race and gender-based physical violence is common. As Sun Yeon Choimorrow, Executive Director of the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum, powerfully stated in reference to the Atlanta attacks: “[T]his is what we had feared all along – we were afraid that the objectification and the hypersexualization of our bodies was going to lead to death.”
As frontline workers in essential jobs, some AAPI women have borne immense economic distress as their livelihoods as service workers have been thrown into tumult.
It combines with the violence of poverty inflicted on AAPI women harmed by wage theft and exploitative work conditions, poverty wages, discrimination based on immigration status, and the sanction of a subminimum wage for tipped workers that forces them to tolerate sexual harassment as the price of a paycheck. And as frontline workers in essential jobs, some AAPI women have borne immense economic distress as their livelihoods as service workers have been thrown into tumult. We must change wage and work policies exploiting AAPI communities if we are to have a gender just future.
These crimes have no place in an equitable, inclusive, and just America – yet they have a long history in America. If we are to support AAPI communities, we cannot turn away from that reality. However, we must also hold tightly to these ideals, despite our history, and strive to build a multiracial, inclusive movement for justice for everyone. We urge our ERA community to learn, listen, and support these vibrant communities that are experiencing a devastating crises.
ERA releases this statement amidst news of another mass murder in Boulder. We urge the passage of stronger gun control laws in this country to end harms of this magnitude against vulnerable community members.