Hatred, anger, and violence toward Asian Americans Pacific Islanders (AAPIs) is a real and disgraceful part of U.S. history. Its continuing legacy cannot be ignored. It has resulted in fear, trauma, and victimization of AAPIs across this country even before the coronavirus pandemic. Over the past year, aggression, and harassment towards the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community specifically, as a subgroup of Asian Americans, has escalated by 145%, while overall hate crimes dropped. Driven by racist rhetoric linking the community as the cause of the coronavirus pandemic in a cultural climate where white supremacy has been virtually unchecked, there is clearly a lot of work to do. The AAPI community cannot combat this violence and fight for racial justice alone. Nor should they have to. As a Black female, owned and operated business, Global Equity Forward embraces the historical legacy and value of multiracial coalitions, including Black-Asian solidarity and remains committed to advancing racial justice for all through education, empowerment, and inclusion.
THE PROBLEM: WHITE SUPREMACY
In its simplest definition, white supremacy is an ideology wherein the beliefs, thoughts, and actions of whites are held as superior to people of color. This ideology is at the core of and reinforced by American institutions, patterns, and practices that consistently disadvantage and dominate people of color while privileging white people. It is important to note that white supremacy does not require individual intent or motivation to operate or have impact. Further, people of color can act in ways that support white supremacy, thus contributing to the domination of other marginalized racial groups. White supremacy in America is embedded in our culture and rendered invisible. We must make it visible, by calling it out when we see it. Naming white supremacy, makes it visible for us all to individually and collectively take action to dismantle it.
The history of Asian Americans in America and their treatment is overlooked in most school systems and mainstream racial debates. Even a cursory inquiry reveals the many ways in which those of AAPI heritage specifically have been victimized throughout American history. The United States government has tried to veil its bigotry for centuries through such laws as the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, wherein Asian immigrants were treated as threats to national security, barred from the country, and blocked from obtaining naturalization. During times of fear and uncertainty white supremacist ideology has driven extreme policy such as the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II. The mask of public interest along with damaging propaganda acted as justification for stripping Japanese Americans of their property and relocating them to detention facilities. That same ideology of “us versus them” has once again generated an uptick in the unacceptable treatment we see today.
WHY WE MUST ACT AND HOW
- Take on stereotypes directly. Call them out. Do not reinforce them. Hypersexuality of Asian women and emasculation of Asian men has long been tolerated and this must end. The consequences of such have made them targets of sexual violence and ridicule. Be mindful of your words and the ways in which they and your own actions may perpetuate these damaging stereotypes.
- Support existing Asian American/AAPI advocacy organizations with your time and money. There are several organizations that have been doing community advocacy work long before the most recent spate of violence and the murders in Atlanta. Groups such as Asian Americans Advancing Justice (AAJC), Asian Pacific Partners for Empowerment, Advocacy and Leadership (APPEAL), and Empowering Pacific Islander Communities (EPIC) are civil rights organizations with track records of work supporting their communities. Get to know and actively listen to these groups. Support their initiatives with your time, resources, and money.
- Increase visibility by speaking up in your spheres of influence. The AAPI community has long been regarded as “invisible.” A lack of visibility means suffering alone and reluctance to speak up. We must call out baseless fears, stereotypes, and stigmas as they happen. Dismantling white supremacy means shining light on xenophobic attitudes and messages.
- Step it up. Build cross-racial solidarity. This means the stage must be set for inter-racial dialogue to create a shared sense of community. Report incidents of violence towards the AAPI community. Data is collected from organizations such as the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism and Stop AAPI Hate that can be used in advocacy work, training, education, and the creation of legislation such as the No Hate Act introduced by the U.S. Congress in April, 2021.
WHAT GLOBAL EQUITY FORWARD IS DOING
Global Equity Forward (GEF) is committed to our mission of advancing racial justice and global equity in all places and spaces, so that every person can live with dignity and access opportunities in their life and work. At the center of GEF courses and trainings is making the connection between history and its consequences on the lives of marginalized racial minorities. We recognize these issues are complicated by the intersectionality of social identities (e.g. gender, sexuality, class, religious affiliation, etc.) that overlap in ways that magnify the negative consequences of racial domination and discrimination in everyday life. We remain dedicated to helping people navigate their racial justice journey in the follow ways.
- Education. Our courses, trainings and webinars help build empathy and understanding as well as a foundation upon which to have informed, non-judgmental dialogue related to complex or sensitive topics.
- Equip. Our spaces of inclusion offer people a place to develop their “racial justice voice” and acquire the knowledge, strategies, and skills necessary to be change agents and allies within their spheres of influence.
- Empowerment. We encourage and support people in all aspects of their racial justice journey, so they stay committed to long-term change that will ultimately transform the way the world works.
- Setting the discourse. The global pandemic and the ongoing racial reckoning have given us an opportunity to reimagine and redefine the world we inhabit. If we want to do so through a racial justice lens, we need strength, courage, and perseverance to have the conversations that need to be had; not just the ones that are easiest.
As a Black business leader, I challenge us all to build upon the history of cross-racial unity and solidarity with the AAPI community. Global Equity Forward believes that together, we can ensure the dismantling of white supremacy so that every person can have dignity, be respected in their full humanity, and live free of violence and racial domination.
# # # #