Today is the one-year anniversary of the shootings at Asian-owned businesses in Atlanta, which killed eight people, including six Asian American women. It was a shocking event amid this lasting wave of anti-Asian hate, which has affected people of different ages, ethnicities, and backgrounds.
Over a century ago, in San Francisco Chinatown, an outbreak of bubonic plague was incorrectly ascribed to the Chinese, already labeled unassimilable and un-American, who were isolated, cordoned off, and scapegoated until the arrival of public health officers who understood the science of the disease. Since then, modern economic competition, immigration, and the Cold War have caused ebbs and flows in American attitudes towards Asian Americans, and increased travel and cultural circulation have not yet erased centuries of accrued racial and gender stereotypes. The eruption of anti-Asian hate during this pandemic was sadly predictable, at the same time that it has been deeply complicated by our continued domestic reckoning with racism and the current geopolitical system.
I know that historical context isn’t always comforting, but to me, knowledge is power, and so is community. I try—though it can be hard on sad days like today—to focus on the support we’ve felt from allies (including those in other communities of color who are all too familiar with racist attacks), the community that we’re building at the AAC, and the education that we’re providing to help people understand their questions or question their understanding.
Please join us in person or virtually for a lecture and community discussion where we can talk more about this last year of triumphs and tragedies for Asian America on March 31 at 5:30pm, on the eve of the AAC’s celebration of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month.
Heidi Kim, AAC Director