On March 16 a single gunman in Atlanta, Georgia murdered eight people at three different spas, including six Asian women. The Oregon Education Association and its 41,000 member-educators have once again been shaken by this utterly destructive act of violence, which has come at a time where Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities in our state and across the nation have already been forced to grapple with intolerable levels of vitriol and violence. The OEA stands in solidarity with our AAPI community as we name these killings for exactly what they are - a direct result of our nation’s long history of white supremacy, systemic racism and gender-based violence.
The United States’ history of systemic violence against the AAPI community is as exhaustive as it is shameful. The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, the incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II, the biased surveillance of Muslim and South Asian communities in the aftermath of 9/11, and the targeted attacks against AAPI individuals and AAPI-owned businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic are just a small number of examples of the oppression and violence that have been forced upon the AAPI community as a result of the United States’ culture of white supremacy.
Moreover, our nation’s perpetual failure to address historic systems of sexism, misogyny, and gender-based violence has created the toxic environment in which these attacks were able to take place. The hypersexualization of AAPI women in American culture, our nation’s permissive attitude of violence against women of color, women who are poor, and women who are immigrants have made AAPI women particularly vulnerable to violence in our society. It is sadly not surprising that in 2020, as incidents of hate against the AAPI community rose 150% in America, AAPI women were twice as likely than their male counterparts to be the targets of that violence.
We join with the myriad of organizations and individuals across the country as we call for a community-centered response to this tragedy. One that allows our AAPI communities to dictate the resources they need to not only recover from the trauma of this attack, but to build lasting resiliency and safety with their communities. We also recommit ourselves to our efforts to become an institution that addresses issues of equity and racial justice, with an eye toward transformative reflection, systems change, culturally responsive growth and inclusion, authentic community partner coalition-building and social activism.