Statement on Anti-Asian Violence
Over the past year, there have been more than thirty-eight hundred reported hate incidents targeting Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI), nearly 70% of them targeting women. The casual ignorance and nastiness of public statements about “the China virus” and other racial scapegoating were insufficiently challenged in person and in the media. We, those of us not of Asian descent, as Quakers, should have been sensitive to the dangers to our friends and Friends in the Asian communities. If we had been paying attention, the shooting of eight people – six of them women of Asian descent – in Atlanta this week would not have come as a surprise or seem unconnected with anything larger. Regardless of what other layers of motivation there might be for the incident, the racial and misogynist aspects of this crime cannot be ignored. We must not be silent in the face of anti-AAPI violence or allow anti-Asian bias to permeate our meetings and Society.
What can we do now?
First, we can raise awareness of the forms and history of anti-Asian bias and violence. There needs to be education about the lynching and mass murder of Chinese workers in the 19th century, the stereotyping of AAPI immigrants including the hypersexualizing of Asian women, the conflating of all AAPI nationalities as having the same values and cultures, and countless other forms of ignorance and misunderstanding of Asians in America. And we can ask what else we should learn about the varied Asian experiences among Quakers and in America.
Second, we can speak out against violence and we can name anti-AAPI speech and attitudes when we see them. We can be activists for safety, for a just society that provides full inclusion for AAPI, for a community that makes no one the “other.” And we can ask, how might my own actions, words, thoughts, explicitly or inadvertently, reflect internal bias and contribute to systemic racism?
Third, we can prepare to intervene whether or not we know the person being targeted. It is important to prepare before we unexpectedly find ourselves in such a situation. See this American Friends Service Committee guidance on bystander intervention. And we can ask what other support is needed.
Fourth, we need to be clear that anti-AAPI violence is part of racism in America. The White Supremacist system in which we live benefits from creating division among oppressed groups, so we must encourage mutual support and unity (see standtogethersf.org, www.tsuruforsolidarity.org, www.ihollaback.org). Until we can all be safe from violence no one of us is safe. And we can continue to work on addressing all racism.
This is work for all of us, no matter our skin color, gender, or cultural orientation. Spirit tells us we are one, we all have the Light within us, we are all connected. As we deepen our listening, let us ask ourselves: how can I become more aware, how can I prepare myself to act, what actions are mine to do?
Neither of the authors of this statement are of Asian descent and we are aware that we cannot adequately represent or reflect the experiences and feelings of those who are. Nor do we mean to imply that every person of Asian descent would see any specific incident in the same way. But we do hope to hold up some of what we have heard from Friends of Asian descent in our recent consultation. We share one specific reflection: “It might be worthwhile for our Quaker community, across all racial and ethnic lines, across all ages, across all gender identities, to really dig deep to understand where we actually stand on this issue and how we understand racism.”
If you are interested in reading more, here are some links to articles that were shared with us that we found helpful:
Elaine Learnard, Clerk, NYYM
Steve Mohlke, General Secretary, NYYM