We write to you today one week after the devastating murders in Atlanta where a shooter targeted three Asian-owned businesses and killed eight people, six of whom were Asian women. This was a racist and misogynistic act of hate. Unfortunately, what happened in Atlanta does not stand alone.
This past year, and particularly the past few months, we have seen an uptick in violence directed towards Asian American communities across the US. According to research from Stop AAPI Hate, there have been over 3,700 reported incidents nationwide, and more than 68% of reported incidents were from women. [Nationwide there has been a 150% increase in anti-Asian violence and hate crimes.]
Right here in Minnesota, this violence includes verbal and physical abuse in public spaces and private property damage. Women and the elderly are particularly vulnerable. Likewise, schoolchildren have been targets of bullying, with even principals in our own city using derogatory language such as, “China virus,” in learning environments.
In addition to these interpersonal acts of violence, we have also experienced instances of state violence. This winter, Filipino-American Navy veteran Angelo Quinto was killed in Antioch California after police kneeled on his neck for more than five minutes. Christian Hall, a 19-year-old Asian/African American youth was shot and killed on December 30 by Pennsylvania state troopers while experiencing a mental health crisis.
Just this past Monday, 33 Vietnamese community members were deported by ICE. All of this is connected to larger systems of structural racism and xenophobia. All of this is anti-Asian violence.
Anti-Asian racism has occurred since Asians first immigrated to the United States, from the Page Act of 1875, the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, the incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War 2, to the surveillance of Muslims and South Asians after 9/11, and the continued deportation of Southeast Asians today. The scapegoating of Asian Americans during the COVID-19 pandemic is a continuation of a longstanding history of scapegoating and systemic racism.
Many of our communities are struggling—historic divestment from our neighborhoods means we don’t have the infrastructures or resources to support one another. We live in poverty together. White supremacist governmental tactics have taught us to blame each other instead of providing real physical safety, paths to financial independence, and ways to connect with our wider community members. That is how the system has worked, but recent events in the middle of a pandemic have highlighted what many of us have been yearning for since we started contributing to the social and economic fabric of this society: structural change.
What we need right now are greater investments into communities in need and new systems of public safety that keep us all safe. We need systems of abundance, where everyone has what they need to thrive. We need cross-racial solidarity, knowing that the fate of our communities is tied together. Lastly, we need a society that is rooted in love, belonging, and joy instead of anti-Indigenous, anti-Black, anti-immigrant, and anti-Asian hate.
This moment demands all of us to fight racism and violence together. We urge you to contact your legislators to pass HF 1691/SF 2003 to strengthen hate crimes laws right now. Lastly, here are other ways you can help us Stop Asian Hate.
The Asian Minnesotan Alliance for Justice (AMAJ) is a collective of Asian American organizations dedicated to fighting for solidarity and justice in MN. AMAJ was formed in May 2020 after the murder of George Floyd under police custody and the rise of anti-Asian racism due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We are made up of leaders and representatives of various Asian Minnesotan organizations who share a common purpose of ending racism and xenophobia in order to create a just, free, and peaceful world.