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Violence against people of Asian descent has soared since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the recent wave of brutal hate crimes in the US has devastated the Asian American community. Last month, a white gunman murdered eight people, six of them Asian women, in a shooting rampage across Atlanta-area massage parlors. A few weeks later, a 65-year-old Asian woman was stomped on and beaten outside a New York City building lobby after the perpetrator hurled anti-Asian insults.
In a poignant display of solidarity with the many victims of anti-Asian and racist assaults, more than 800 people have signed an open letter titled “Asian American Arts Workers Against White Supremacy.” It was penned by StopDiscriminAsian (SDA), a group of Asian diasporic artists and arts workers formed last year to combat the surge in prejudice and attacks.
The statement’s growing list of signatories includes artist Anicka Yi, a member of SDA; curators Laura Raicovich, Helen Molesworth, and Christopher Y. Lew; and artists Anna Sew Hoy and Mai-Thu Perret.
“We are art workers, we are educators, we are journalists, we are immigrants and the descendants of immigrants, we are parents and the children of elders like those who’ve been cruelly attacked in recent viral videos,” SDA writes. “We’ve all wondered if our next tense encounter in public will turn violent because someone doesn’t like our skin color or facial features. We are exhausted, scared, grieving, and angry, and yet we persevere.”
The letter’s authors address the troubling intersection of gender and racial violence, noting that 68% of anti-Asian hate crimes reported last year targeted Asian women. They express support for other oppressed groups and identities, including immigrants and elders, and call for decriminalizing sex work and alternatives to over-policing.
“True solidarity acknowledges that white body supremacy and anti-Blackness have violent repercussions on all of us,” the letter continues. “SDA reiterates its commitment to move forward together in solidarity with all marginalized groups against white supremacy and xenophobia.”
Read the letter in full here.