What happened this past week in Atlanta was a harrowing reminder of how white supremacy, xenophobia, and white nationalism continues to rear its ugly head in not only the U.S. on a broad-scale, but in our own collective spaces. Spaces we consider to be safe, free from emotional turmoil, and protected from any potential trauma.
We need to talk about this.
Today, I want to bring attention to the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community, the violence they’re experiencing, and how we all can stand in solidarity and show support in real, meaningful ways while making sure their voices are uplifted.
NBC reports that in 2020, anti-Asian hate crimes increased by nearly 150%. While the overall hate crime rate is declining, hate crimes targeting Asian people are spiking up.
And, a new report shows 3,795 anti-Asian hate incidents (verbal and physical assault) between March 19, 2020 and February 28, 2021. More than 500 incidents happened in 2021. The majority targeted Asian women.
Not all incidents get reported to police, so these numbers really just reflect a fraction of what’s actually happening.
Why is this happening?
There are many reasons, not just one. One main reason is the history of white supremacy and the dehumanization of the AAPI community as a whole dating as far back as the 1850’s, where the Supreme Court case People v. Hall concluded that Chinese Americans and Chinese immigrants (along with anyone else who isn’t white) had no rights to testify against white citizens.
Then, there is the binary, hypersexualization and objectification of Asian women predominantly shown in western media for the last half century or so.
But more recently, the former U.S. President labeled COVID-19, “the China virus” “Wuhan Virus” and “kung flu,” and used other very racist rhetoric to describe the virus, inciting his followers, and enabling them to feel justified in their acts of violence and hate.
This is a pattern we’ve seen countless times in the past—a disgusting loop we keep repeating. Whenever something bad happens, human beings rush to find a scapegoat and cast blame.
As Stephen Mihm notes in a piece for The Japan Times, “Sadly, this is nothing new.” Christians blamed Jews for the bubonic plague in 1348. In 1916, Italian immigrants in New York were blamed for polio. Our world has an “ugly history of blaming ethnic groups for disease outbreaks,” to quote Mihm. Whoever is new in town, has the “wrong” shade of skin or hair, the “wrong” language, or the “wrong” religion gets blamed and abused. We must work together to stop this pattern from continuing.
How to stand in solidarity with your Asian friends, colleagues, clients, and other people in your community:
- Support Asian business owners. Many Asian businesses have been vandalized, and owners have been terrorized. Bricks, windows, shattered glass, hateful graffiti, and worse. This is happening right now, even in U.S. cities that are supposedly “liberal” and “progressive.” Eleven Asian-owned businesses were vandalized in Portland, Oregon during the last month alone.
- Support businesses not just with thoughts and prayers and the occasional Instagram post—please show support with your dollars. Buy products and services. Hire vendors. Book venues. Kind words are great, but they don’t pay the rent or keep the electricity on.
- Check in with your Asian employees, freelancers, and other team members. Let them know, “I know this is a difficult time. I want to make sure you feel safe at work. And I want to make sure you’re getting the rest and self-care that you need. Offer these folks extra paid time off—a mental health day. Hire a therapist to provide counseling to handle the shock, grief, and stress.
- Check in with your friends and colleagues. Ask, “How are you doing?” Listen. And let them know, “It’s okay if you don’t want to talk. Sometimes talking is tiring and doesn’t feel good. Just know I am here for you. If there is anything I can do to make your week a little easier—grocery delivery, taking a project off your plate, anything—just say the word.”
- Use your platform (this means your social media channels, your newsletter, blog, podcast, webinars, anywhere you show up to speak, write, teach, lead) to highlight Asian writers, artists, athletes, and entrepreneurs and draw attention to their work. You don’t need to do this “once a year” at a “special moment.” Do it all the time. Make it normal and ordinary.
- Take a moment of silence to honor people who have been senselessly killed—including the people shot and killed at Young’s Asian Massage spa in Georgia a few days ago: Xiaojie Tan. Daoyou Feng. Delaina Ashley Yaun Gonzalez. Paul Andre Michels. Hyeon Jeong Park. There are others, yet to be identified to the public. Say their names. Tell their stories.
Here at Hello Seven, we stand in solidarity with all human beings who have been oppressed, marginalized, harassed, assaulted, or made to feel less than human.
This includes Black people, people of color, people who are differently abled, immigrants, queer, trans, and non-binary folks, and all women and girls.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, “No one is free until we are all free.”
We live by these words.
We don’t have to, nor should we, wait for something to happen to us directly before we take a stand. We are all united in our fight against white supremacy. It’s not enough for one group to gain access to wealth, respect, peace, power, and joy. This victory is incomplete until we can all enjoy those birthrights.
My team and I will keep fighting tirelessly until we are ALL free. Financially free. Emotionally free. Liberated in all ways.
In solidarity with you, today and always.
PS. The Hello Seven team and I believe one of the best ways to show support, is by putting our money where our mouth is. We made monetary donations to the AAJC (Asian Americans Advancing Justice) and Red Canary Song, the only grassroots Chinese massage parlor worker coalition in the U.S. in support of political representation and access to labor rights.
PSS. We compiled a list of reputable organizations dedicated to fighting racism and xenophobia against the AAPI community. You can show support for the community, survivors, and families of those whose lives were lost in this senseless act of violence by:
- Supporting the Stop AAPI Hate or Hate Is A Virus organizations.
- Donating to the Asian Mental Health Collective.
- Signing the National Asian Pacific American Women's Forum’s petition to Condemn Hate and Violence Against Asian American Women.