In the wake of continued violent assaults of members in our community, we are sending radical love, healing, and courage to all of our Asian and Asian American community members. We acknowledge the pain, grief, and fear that many of us are living in now, compounded by the isolation and alienation brought on by racist rhetoric used by elected leaders in regards to the COVID-19 pandemic. We stand in solidarity with you, and we fight alongside you for a better world that treats one another with care, compassion, and dignity.
We are hurting from seeing our elders and community members face racist and xenophobic violence. We want to acknowledge that we often feel an impulse to want accountability and even punishment for the people who have perpetrated harm against us. While police, prisons, and the carceral system may be the immediate systems of “accountability” that we think of, punishment, policing, and incarceration do not address the issues our communities face, prevent harm, or keep us safe. We need investment in our communities, space for healing, and transformative justice — not more police on our streets and more people in prisons.
As celebrities and community members call for increased policing due to the rise of these violent acts, we feel another wave of anger and sadness. We know that more policing only serves to further damage and exploit our vulnerable communities that have long been under-resourced, racially profiled, and criminalized. Hate crime legislation and the plundering of more taxpayer funds expands the power of the police, thereby harming more communities. It fails to get to the root cause of the violence: white supremacy.
Time and time again, communities of color and other marginalized groups are blamed for catastrophic events that stem from the failures of our elected leaders and our government to put the needs of the people above corporate and warmongering interests. During World War II, Japanese Americans lost their homes, jobs, businesses, and so much more when the government forcibly confined them in internment camps due to anti-Japanese sentiments. Post-9/11, innocent Muslim and Brown people were targeted and detained by the US government, while also enduring waves of violence due to racist vitriol by political candidates and public figures.
The prison industrial complex and the police are perpetrators of violence — against Asian communities (Yang Song, Kang Wong, Christian Hall, Sureshbhai Patel, Angelo Quinto) — and against Black communities (Eric Garner, Breonna Taylor, Sandra Bland, George Floyd). We cannot look for safety or justice from the very same agencies that have routinely harmed our people.
We believe that we need to center the needs of our survivors and look to one another for alternatives for accountability and repairing harm. Already, in many parts of the United States and elsewhere, activists have created alternative responses to conflict and abuse that are anti-carceral — for example, shelters and support networks that provide refuge for survivors of partner and intimate relations violence, mental health response groups, and safe spaces for impoverished teens. Such work goes hand in hand with attempts to build different systems for engaging conflict and accountability, from political education to transformative and restorative justice processes.
Our communities have a history of practicing mutual aid to look after one another and keep us safe. For example, Asian immigrants who arrived to find systemic obstacles rooted in anti-Asian sentiments decided to create rotating credit practices to help members of the community open local businesses, find housing, and keep their families fed. Thanks to our elders, we have this foundation of mutual aid and community care that we can continue to build upon.
We acknowledge that we don’t speak for all Asian communities. We the undersigned are speaking on behalf of the communities we organize with, the communities we serve, and communities we are in solidarity with, Asian and non-Asian. We also acknowledge that the work that we are called upon to do is not easy and will not build itself overnight. We hope that you do join us in building a better world where harm and violence are rendered obsolete, where we can all feel joy, safe, and, in the immortal words of Maya Angelou, not merely survive, but thrive.
Rohan Zhou-Lee, The Blasian March
Carolina Đố, The Sống Collective / Asians4Abolition
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