We at NCRP sit with heavy hearts over the continued anti-Asian violence that has been going on across the nation during the last year, including this week’s shootings of Tan Xiajie, Julie Park, Feng Daoyou, Park Hyeon Jeong, Delaina Ashley Yaun and Paul Andre Michaels in Atlanta. We acknowledge the grief and fear from these continued assaults and the longstanding racist lies and tropes that have fueled them even before the recent pandemic. Pain that directly results from the general failure of society to deal with gender violence that sees an overwhelming majority of these recent assaults directed at women.
We stand with our Asian American staff, friends and partners in not just in denouncing these acts of violence, but also in calling for our sector to use the power of its voice and its grant dollars. That specifically includes supporting a new normal that makes Asian American and Pacific Islander organizations part of their regular grantmaking and advancing a more holistic racial-equity strategy that tackles gender-based and anti-immigrant violence.
Another hard look in the American mirror
The truth is that the shooting of 8 people, including 6 Asian women, is yet another tragic reminder of the life-threatening consequences that communities — and Black, Indigenous, People of Color women and trans people specifically — face when we fail to actively address this nation’s destructive foundation of misogyny, anti-Blackness and white supremacy. It’s a story that includes not just a centuries-long history of sexual violence against Asian women that is rooted in imperialism and colonialism, but one that is ever present. One just has to look at what’s on television and in the movies to see the dehumanizing, sexualized stereotypes that seem only in the service of white, cisgender men.
Red Canary Song, a grassroots collective of Asian and migrant sex workers, organizing transnationally, explains it best: “The women who were killed faced specific racialized gendered violence for being Asian women and massage workers. Whether or not they were actually sex workers or self-identified under that label, we know that as massage workers, they were subjected to sexualized violence stemming from the hatred of sex workers, Asian women, working class people, and immigrants.”
Where we go from here
If January’s attempted insurrection didn’t provide a clue, it should be clear by now that we will all have to directly confront the dangerous repercussions of how the last 4 years have emboldened white supremacy in a way few thought possible.
That’s why, more than ever, philanthropy has to commit to practical rapid response and investment in safeguarding communities and the organizers who serve them. In the immediate aftermath, it means listening to local groups like Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Atlanta, which said community members need “robust and responsive crisis intervention resources,” including mental health, legal and immigration services. It also means challenging click-bait driven media narratives that spend more time focusing on Black-Asian hostility than on exploring the unjust, exclusionary policies and systems that are at the root of those racial tensions.
Long term, philanthropy cannot allow a fight against anti-Asian racism distract from its efforts to rooting out anti-Black racism. It would also do well to adopt a grantmaking framework, advocated by groups like the Ella Baker Center, that reimagines safety as security that isn’t based on the use of force, militarized law enforcement and criminalization of communities of color, but on addressing the root causes of violence and providing community care. And on ensuring that we have local infrastructures that provide individuals and families with the economic, educational, language and health-related resources to heal from systematic trauma and reach their potential.
That will certainly mean continued moments of discomfort and well-intentioned missteps from institutions. It will also mean that some friends, more than others, will have to play catch up as they do their own important work in addressing these issues internally and personally.
But it can also mean bold imagination, healing joy and new expressions of love.
Our commitment to justice, liberation — and each other — demands nothing less.