This week, 8 people were killed at three different spas in North Georgia. Six Asian American women’s lives were ended when they were killed in a mass shooting by a white man (arrested and reported as “having a bad day” by police — an outright example of privilege and white supremacy) at an Asian-owned spa. This act  is one more incident in a wave of violence against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. According to NYPD data, the number of crimes against Asian Americans has jumped by 1900% in the last year alone. Stop AAPI Hate has received more than 3,800 anti-Asian hate crime reports in the United States since the start of the pandemic. Words matter: this is the direct result of those in power inciting racial violence with rhetoric like “The China Virus.”  While the COVID-19 circumstances may be new, make no mistake: violence toward Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) is as old as the United States itself. For as long as the United States has been a country, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have been dehumanized and made scapegoats for national crises: 
  • In the late 1800s, the Chinese Exclusion Act, the first law in the United States to ban immigrants based on race, was passed, in response to a wave of anti-Asian racism
  • Starting in the first half of the 20th century, Asian American immigrants were deemed “a yellow peril,” by media and government, resulting in a wave of racist propaganda and violence in the United States.
  • During World War II in 1942, over 100,000 Japanese-Americans were “deemed suspicious” based on race and  imprisoned in American internment camps.  
  • During the rise of SARS, Chinese and other Southeast Asian communities faced a wave of violence and racial discrimination in the United States. 
  • Like the massage parlor victims, AAPI women have faced centuries of oversexualization and dehumanization. For nearly a century, AAPI women have been fetishized by American media. At the same time, AAPI men have been emasculated in media representation. 
In condemning the massage parlor attack, we must also condemn the broader systems of white supremacy, anti-Asian racism, colonialism, and violence against women. The United States — and the climate movement — have work to do. In our fight for racial justice, we must condemn the “model minority” myth: a false belief that Asian Americans have class, socioeconomic, and educational privilege that delegitimizes racial discrimination. For nearly a century, this ideology has served as a tool of white supremacy to discourage solidarity among BIPOC communities in the fight for civil rights and must be uprooted.  There can be no climate justice without racial justice. And there can be no racial justice without justice for Asian and Pacific Islander communities. Our Climate condemns oppression and violence of all kinds. We stand in solidarity and vow to fight for our Asian and Pacific Islander members, partners, and neighbors. We’re committed to practicing anti-racism in our daily internal and external work and continuing our fight for collective liberation. We recognize that the climate movement has to do better by showing up for AAPI communities. Moving forward, we will stand in solidarity with the AAPI community by making a contribution and also donating 25% of proceeds from our upcoming Eco Giveaway Fundraiser to Asian Americans Advancing Justice, endorsing federal and local policy that supports AAPI communities, and signing on to the collective community statement (you can too as an individual or an organization).  Listen to Asian Americans. Uplift their voices. We’re all in this fight together.