BayLegal Statement on Responses to Anti-AAPI Violence in Atlanta and the Bay

Categories: Homepage, News

March 26, 2021

Today marks ten days since the deaths of eight people in a mass shooting in the Atlanta area. Six of the victims were Asian women, who were targeted in the attack. These murders fell on the 53rd anniversary of the My Lai massacre, which is a terrible reminder that sexualized violence against Asian women’s bodies is still embedded in white supremacist patriarchy many decades after the My Lai tragedy. Our grief remains unabated as we mourn the loss of Soon Chung Park, Hyun Jung Grant, Suncha Kim, Yong Yue, Xiaojie Tan, and Daoyou Feng, and grows as we reflect on the pain of their families and the ongoing threat and reality of violence and lingering trauma among AAPI communities, colleagues, friends, and family members across the country and here in the Bay Area. At the same time, we strengthen our resolve to support AAPI and other BIPOC organizations and communities in their struggles against the intersectional oppressions of white supremacy, anti-Asian racism, and misogynist gender violence.

There is work to be done within legal services to support these goals. We know that we must continuously improve our efforts to reach, form effective partnerships, and honor our clients and client communities who have faced systemic exclusion from equal civil justice because of race, language, culture and gender. We also recommit ourselves to the work of building a more racially just, equitable organization from the inside out. We know that our ability to serve as an effective partner in anti-racist justice work relies on our ability as an organization to support AAPI and other BIPOC leadership.

However, at this moment it is critically important that we center and seek to learn and be led by initiatives already underway in AAPI-led organizations to build power, organize for community safety and defense, and build networks of mutual support with other BIPOC organizations and communities. An initial set of links to support this goal is included below. We encourage our staff, supporters, current and former clients, and partner organizations to find out more about the anti-racist projects, resources, and learning opportunities on this list; to participate where and when possible; and to follow up with us to help expand the list over the coming weeks. Like our work to be a better, more effective partner in struggles against anti-AAPI racism and white supremacy, the list remains a work in progress. We want to acknowledge in particular that this work demands our attention here in the Bay Area as well, where attacks on AAPI elders and community members are ongoing and constant, targeting many of the communities that BayLegal serves.

This is a time of deep sorrow and pain that can be difficult to put into words, and we want to remind ourselves and those reading this statement that fully acknowledging and experiencing this grief will take time. Our sorrow deepens when we think about the reverence for elders who have been attacked in our communities, their real and symbolic importance in the structure of many AAPI families, and how violence against them is an attack on the dignity and integrity of their families, and on AAPI families at large. We feel grief and outrage in equal measure when we truthfully acknowledge that the Atlanta shooter’s violent hypersexualization and fetishization of Asian women is not an individual pathology, but a characteristic of systemic anti-Asian racism that permeates American society and culture over a long history.

Our outrage grows in the face of the media’s focus on “sex addiction” or an “unknown motive,” erasing the most obvious: the killer targeted Asian women in a racially motivated killing. The media’s aversion to acknowledging that these crimes targeted Asian women in particular is just another example of Asian erasure perpetrated by colonialism. If we truly want to end anti-Asian racism we will have to work to abolish the structures that create it. It has to stop. We as a society must do better.

Finally, we know that this violence is an immediate concern for us in the Bay Area. We mourn for the lives lost in Atlanta and also for those in our neighborhoods and communities who have been attacked, harassed, and made to feel unsafe and targeted. We mourn because this violence directly impacts places for which we hold responsibility as neighbors, friends, family members and colleagues.

Holding space for our own mourning when faced with present and historical wrongs at this scale, and holding that space for others whose grief might be more immediate or larger than our own, or might demand a different observance, is not a pause or distraction in the work of fighting back against white supremacist violence. Honoring collective grief in all its differences is where this work begins.


Resources in Response to Anti-AAPI Violence