It's not just Atlanta. It's not just New York City or San Francisco - or Philadelphia. It's not only about violence against women of Asian descent. Hate against the Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) community did not start last week with the killing of six women in Atlanta.
The Atlanta shootings came after a year of mounting anti-Asian violence as nearly 4000 anti-Asian hate incidents were (under) reported nationwide, with 97 in Pennsylvania and 59 in New Jersey, according to research from Stop AAPI Hate. In Philadelphia, home to 120,00 Asian residents, reports to the city of anti-Asian American hate tripled between 2019 and 2020.
An increase in violence against Asian Americans during the COVID-19 pandemic was, in part, enabled by the racist rhetoric of blame by our nation's leaders. It was reported that some patients hospitalized for Covid refused treatment from Asian American physicians and health care workers. Many aggressions were directed toward women of all ages, including seniors. As recently as the end of March, they have been spat upon, pushed, thrown to the ground, accosted, had their faces slapped, slashed, and time and time again, with white men cursing and shouting "Go back home where you belong." More times than not, bystanders did nothing to stop the attack or help the women (or men) who were victimized.
Historically, our culture, movies and entertainment, social media, and American white men have stereotyped Asian women as "sensuous, seductive, figures of lust" that have dehumanized and hypersexualized Asian women, fetishizing an entire population of women. There is also the myth that many Asian women are victims of human trafficking.
The women murdered in Atlanta were mothers, a business owner, and an avid cook. Four were aged 52, 61, 63, 74. Four were American citizens. Most were struggling to make ends meet. They led quiet lives of long hours and hard work.
Americans gathered across the nation in solidarity rallying against anti-Asian hate.
"I want us to be here in grief, but out of a history of strength," stated Philadelphia Councilmember Helen Gym to the local crowd. "We are here, and we will rise together."
Our foundation stands in support with the AAPI community. We grieve with our neighbors, service providers, and health care providers of Asian descent.