After a year marked by heightened attacks against Asian Americans stoked at the highest levels of government, tragically on Tuesday night an armed white male suspect murdered eight people in Atlanta — all but two of them Asian American women.
The profound fear and pain in the Asian American community must be addressed.
UnRestrict Minnesota’s community partner, the Asian American Organizing Project (AAOP), has released a statement which reads in part:
“As we mourn the loss, we also need to continue to condemn these acts of violence, condemn the system of white supremacy, the hypersexualization and fetishization of Asian women that allowed this to happen, and support our Asian community during these times. Our hearts are with the families of the victims and with our Asian community who are hurting and grieving and scared.
The solution has always been our community—with the people and with our neighbors. Community accountability and an investment in our communities, in our schools, in our work and jobs, in our public spaces, and more, will break the cycle of harm. This cross-racial, intergenerational solidarity is the way we can work towards building a better, more just, and community-driven world for us all.”
We have all seen the rise in anti-Asian hate crimes. We’ve heard the xenophobic rhetoric. We’ve all seen leaders elected to the highest offices in our nation continue to use anti-Asian racial slurs to describe the pandemic—even as attacks on Asian Americans increase. And we see how these attacks highlight the intersection of race and gender: even before the pandemic, AAPI women routinely experienced racialized misogyny, and have been the target of over twice as many of the incidents reported to Stop AAPI Hate since the beginning of the pandemic as men have.
UnRestrict Minnesota operates within a reproductive justice (a blend of the terms “reproductive rights” and “social justice”) framework, defined by SisterSong Collective as “The human right to maintain personal bodily autonomy, have children, not have children, and parent the children we have in safe and sustainable communities. And while our conversations about Reproductive Justice are rightly centered on the Black women who started and continue to lead this movement, it has never been only about Black people.
Reproductive justice means ending all systems of oppression, including the systems of oppression that harm our Asian American and Pacific Islander community members.
As Asian Communities for Reproductive Justice (now Forward Together) wrote in 2005:
“We believe reproductive justice is the complete physical, mental, spiritual, political, economic, and social well-being of women and girls [and all people], and will be achieved when women and girls [and all people] have the economic, social and political power and resources to make healthy decisions about our bodies, sexuality and reproduction for ourselves, our families and our communities in all areas of our lives”
We do our work at UnRestrict Minnesota in order to achieve full reproductive justice in Minnesota, and that includes dismantling white supremacy and ending misogyny—the harmful ideologies that fueled the massacre in Atlanta. As Renee Bracey Sherman said at this year’s Reproductive Freedom Lobby Day, “white supremacy and misogyny are besties. They go everywhere together.”
Tragedies like these are always heavy—please take time and space to grieve. To mourn. To be angry. Even though the reality of our world is heartbreaking, know that our work together is what will create the world we all deserve to live in.