AAPI Women Lead on COVID-19
#AntiAsianViolence is on the rise. According to the STOP AAPI HATE reporting center, there have been over 1,100 reports of coronavirus discrimination from Asian Americans in the United States. The report emphasizes that AAPI women, Asian women in particular, are harassed at twice the rate of men.
As we contextualize this period, we must consider the different ways that this current anti-Asian climate, especially as it relates to Asian women - is related to the fantasy that we are subservient, docile, dragon ladies, or have never experienced racism. This is where the model minority myth (subscribing to it and believing it) has also caused harm. The myth and fantasy that Asians are culturally passive or immune to white supremacist violence masks a glaring truth, which is that many of our communities, including from Southeast Asia and Pacific Islands, are survivors of racialize colonial wars and occupations. The history of violence that South Asian and Chinese immigrants experienced through coolie labor in the 1800's; the xenophobic Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882; violence against Filipino farmworkers; Japanese internment camps, and the ongoing struggles of deportation and incarceration for Southeast Asian refugees have rarely been focused upon in mainstream politics or education. Our current experiences with racial violence are a part of a larger historical context of racism.
Among many reasons, much of the racialized violence against our communities has been predicated upon colonial expansion and resistance; multicultural white nationalism's racialized fantasies of our permanent Otherness; and/or economic tensions. We must remember and contend with the reality that the violence against us is not new. It is being exacerbated by an administration that has scapegoated Asians and mobilized US patriotism around what it calls the "Chinese Virus."
Today, our diverse communities are being homogenized and attacked - at grocery stores, parking lots, in front of homes, and at work. Businesses are being vandalized and discriminated against. Our community members who are "essential workers" are sometimes underpaid and under-resourced. These current forms of violence and inequities are not new, especially when we consider that our very diverse communities have long experienced limited or no access to health care services (not to mention culturally responsive support). This is particularly dangerous given the global pandemic and dire health needs.
During this period, while Asians are experiencing violence, we must also acknowledge the ongoing systemic violence of anti-Blackness and anti-Indigenousness. Research suggests that Black communities in the United States have the highest rates of infections and deaths as a result of COVID-19. Indigenous/Native Americans are also disproportionately suffering under the virus because of limited access to health care, water, resources, and support. Historically and under the pandemic, Black and Indigenous communities are institutionally vulnerable to health disparities, extracted resources, ongoing criminalization and surveillance. We understand that violence against these communities enables the possibility of racialized violence against Asians a possibility.
As AAPI Women Lead works to end racial and gender violence, specifically for Asians and Pacific Islanders, we do this in solidarity with Black, Indigenous, and other communities of color. This means that we center survivors of violence by considering and providing the support they may need, including recognition of harm and resources for healing. As communities in solidarity who have firsthand experiences with the devastating impacts of detention centers, deportation, and incarceration we are in solidarity with call communities directly impacted and targeted by these institutions and practices. We also support efforts and work to end violence against Black, Indigenous, and other communities of color, even if violence against our specific communities did not occur. To us, this is what it means to be accountable and in solidarity to all Black, Indigenous, and other communities of color.
We must come together to learn ways to take care of our one another; be in conversations and relationships with other communities to create visions for a new future - one that centers the needs and holds institutions, systems accountable to our most vulnerable communities.
This is the time to strengthen our solidarity because we cannot let it get worse.
During this time, we hope you join AAPI Women Lead in joining us in one of the the following:
OAKLAND MUTUAL AID COLLECTIVE
Oakland Mutual Aid Collective is an effort by intergenerational women of color leaders to help tackle health disparities in their communities. #MASCOakland aims to acquire and distribute mutual aid kits and masks to communities most impacted by #COVID19 while connecting them to resources
Mutual Aid Project
Youth led projects, prioritizing undocumented youth led projects, and community-based initiatives that will help our must underserved, unemployed, underemployed communities take care of one another, including mask production and distribution for our most vulnerable populations.
We are a very small team and would love for you to join us!
Thank you so much, community. We know times are extremely challenging. Hope you're all taking great care. We are here to be as helpful as possible and know you are too.
AAPI Women Lead