Across our nation, our Asian Americans and Pacific Islander (AAPI) neighbors, places of worship, and businesses have been deliberately targeted by acts of violence related in part to ignorance about COVID-19 and by racism, xenophobia, and misogyny.

AFN condemns this violence and stands in solidarity with AAPI communities across our nation.

AFN cannot realize our mission to equitably build wealth and increase economic mobility if we do not work both to end the violence and to intentionally focus our actions to reimagine our nation and its promise of equitable prosperity. Thus, we will continue to stand up and speak out together against hate and discrimination in all forms.  

The murders of eight people in Atlanta, including six women of Asian descent, cap what has been 12 months of unprecedented violence against AAPIs. There have been 3,800 reports of hate incidents targeting members of AAPI communities across the country since last March, according to Stop AAPI Hate. The Atlanta shootings simultaneously represented both racist hate and gender-based violence. AAPIs of all genders reported an increase in harassment in 2020; however, AAPI women reported harassment and hate incidents 2.3 times as often as their male counterparts.

The search by law enforcement, media, and many Americans for a singular, tidy narrative is also misogynistic and racist. The lone wolf, “not a hate crime,” narrative is a form of mythology that denies systemic complicity and relegates each violent act to individual action, stalling the addressing of root causes.

Systemic complicity is something we need to confront as often as needed to contest the individual focused narrative, and to not absolve ignorance and continued white supremacy. This story needs to be framed around the hard truths to help us identify needed systemic and cultural solutions. It is particularly important that we know and name decades and centuries of cultural stereotyping and fetishizing of AAPI women, and their exploitation in low-wage, poorly regulated industries and racist public policies: i.e., the Japanese internment camps the U.S. government established 79 years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court’s dishonorable decision in U.S. v. Korematsu, the overtly racist Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, the Page Act of 1875 that sought to prevent immigration by presuming East Asian women would become prostitutes, and the aftermath of foreign policies and wars fought in Asia and the Pacific Islands  that helped create refugee populations.

Racist and gender-based violence, white supremacy, and xenophobia have afflicted our nation since its inception. These shootings reflect hate against AAPIs, women, and immigrants. We all have important roles in denouncing hatred wherever and whenever it reveals itself. We must not tire of, or fear, this responsibility to name and condemn injustice, and to do everything in our power to eliminate the narratives and white fragility that excuse racial and gender-based violence.

Philanthropy has the power to name and condemn actions, harmful stereotypes, and excuses that sanction discrimination against Americans who are AAPI. We can identify and help strengthen AAPI-led and -serving organizations as part of regular grantmaking and also in advancing racial, gender, and economic  justice.

Dena L. Jackson, Board Co-chair   Padmini Parthasarathy, Board Co- Chair   Joseph A. Antolin, President and CEO