There is an ugly history of anti-Asian racism in this country, which has only been exacerbated since the COVID-19 pandemic began. This past year, we have seen a staggering level of racism and violence against members of the Asian American and Pacific Islander communities, including the tragic shootings targeting Asian-owned businesses associated with sex work in Atlanta this week that killed people, primarily Asian women. Earthworks stands in solidarity with all those of Asian and Pacific Island descent who have been targeted or victimized, and we condemn anti-Asian racism in the strongest terms.
Earthworks is committed to climate justice and environmental justice in order to improve the health, safety and well-being of all communities. Anti-Asian racism has a long and shameful history in our country, from the Chinese Exclusion Act to Japanese internment to continued deportations of Asian immigrants to the ongoing hypersexualization of Asian women. Over the past year racist, anti-Asian language has been invoked by the previous administration and politicians in their failed response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This racism is inextricably tied with environmental devastation found throughout Asia – impacts that range from military occupation to plastic waste trade to mining impacts, and so much more.
It is important to recognize that the individuals who were killed Tuesday night are people with lives, stories, relationships. White supremacy, imperialism, and misogyny have made it so the lives of low income Asian women, sex workers, and migrants are treated as disposable. What happened on Tuesday night was an act of hate against Asian women and an act of violence against sex workers and low income migrants. Violence against Asian and Pacific Islander communities in the United States does not manifest itself only in attacks against individuals and elders but also takes the form of ongoing, pervasive discrimination and hostility: the gentrification of communities, anti-immigration policies, the deportation of refugees, and increased surveillance and policing.
As many Asian people have noted, the rise in anti-Asian hate crimes did not come from a vacuum: the past few years have seen a deluge of anti-China articles and opinion pieces in prestigious publications including the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Financial Times, Axios, and Foreign Policy, from politicians of both parties constantly espousing anti-China sentiment.
Earthworks is particularly concerned about anti-China and anti-Asian rhetoric in the extractive industries space, in which the the mining industry continues to insinuate that so-called “critical minerals” needed for the clean energy transition must be mined from US public lands and that China’s economic dominance in this space is a national security threat to the US. The mining industry’s embrace of this kind of rhetoric is troubling because it’s clearly an opportunistic gambit to plunder protected areas, but even more dangerous is how this rhetoric is being echoed throughout foreign policy, military, and other political spaces. This drumbeat of sinophobic hatred contributes to the nearly 3,800 hate incidents directed at Asian Americans from March 2020 to February 2021, as well as the Atlanta shootings.
Earthworks is committed to the hard, long road of dismantling systemic racism, oppression and white supremacy, within the environmental movement and in the United States at large. We are a mostly white-led organization, and we recognize the privilege we hold as leaders in the environmental movement. We join our allies across the nation in calling on all public officials and community leaders to condemn and denounce all forms of white supremacy and misogyny. This was not simply a “bad day” this was white supremacist and anti sex work violence specifically targeting East Asian sex workers. We have joined with other environmental and social justice organizations in calling for justice and encourage others to do the same.
We know that it’s not enough to condemn hatred and racism. We will examine our own language when we oppose a mining or oil and gas project. Because we are committed to protecting places from environmental impacts from extraction, and supporting communities fighting for clean air and water, it doesn’t matter who owns the company; we will not contribute to xenophobia.
We stand with and fight for the demands from Black, Brown, and Indigenous communities that justice and safety do not come from police, prisons, or anti-terrorism laws and that using instances of white supremacist violence to increase reliance on carceral systems places marginalized people at ever more increasing risk. As we commit ourselves to doing better, we also seek to uplift voices for justice. Please, follow our allies and send your support and solidarity to them.
For More Information
- Asian Pacific Environmental Network (APEN): Asian Pacific Environmental Network is an environmental justice organization with deep roots in California’s Asian immigrant and refugee communities.
- AAPI Women Lead : AAPI Women Lead and #ImReady Movement aims to strengthen the progressive political and social platforms of Asian and Pacific Islander communities in the US through the leadership of self-identified AAPI women and girls.
- API Equality – Northern California: APIENC builds queer and transgender Asian and Pacific Islander power to amplify voices and increase the visibility of communities.
- 18 Million Rising: 18 Million Rising (18MR) brings Asian American communities together online and offline to reimagine Asian American identity with nuance, specificity, and power.
- AAAJC: Rooted in the dreams of immigrants and inspired by the promise of opportunity, Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC (Advancing Justice | AAJC) advocates for an America in which all Americans can benefit equally from, and contribute to, the American dream.
- Asian Prisoner Support Committee: Provides direct support to Asian and Pacific Islander (API) prisoners and to raise awareness about the growing number of APIs being imprisoned, detained, and deported.
- Red Canary Song: A grassroots collective of Asian & migrant sex workers, organizing transnationally.
- Butterfly: Butterfly was formed by sex workers, social workers, legal and health professionals. It provides support to, and advocates for, the rights of Asian and migrant sex workers.
- SWAN Vancouver: Provides culturally-specialized support and advocacy to im/migrant women engaged in indoor sex work. The diverse voices and ongoing resilience of these communities of women fuel SWAN’s mission to change the social and political narratives that racialize, misdefine, exclude and otherwise harm them.
- National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum: Builds collective power with AAPI women and girls to gain full agency over our lives, our families, and our communities
- Donate to victims’ families and AAAJ
- Atlanta-Area Spa Shootings Fundraisers on GoFundMe
- In memory of HyunJungKim to support my brother & I, organized by Randy Park
- Help Elcias Hernandez Ortiz cover medical bills, organized by Flora Gonzalez Gomez
- Support Tien Pham’s re-entry fund
General readings/learning resources
- White Saviors “Rescuing” Asian Women & Who It Truly Serves:
- Rights, Not Rescue: A Response to AF3IRM in Defense of DSA Resolution #53 | by Red Canary Song
- –Cathy Park Hong: Minor Feelings: An Asian American Reckoning
- Why This Wave of Anti Asian Racism Feels Different
- How to Organize Asian Americans – Notes from Two Generations
- “I want you to care when people are still alive” Yves Tong Nguyen Red Canary Song
- “Bipartisan political rhetoric about Asia leads to anti-Asian violence here”
- ‘A specific kind of racism’: Atlanta shootings fuel fears over anti-sex-work ideology
- Son of Atlanta Shooting Victim Calls ‘Bullshit’ on Sex Addiction Claim
- The World in Which These Stories Live: A Portfolio of Incarceration Literature
- Asians for Abolition
- Asian Americans – PBS Series
- The Next American Revolution by Grace Lee Boggs, Scott Kurashige – Paperback
- Working for equity and social justice? Know what your Asian colleague is experiencing
- Asian history/solidarity/feminism reading list (more in post comments)
- Climate Organizing in Asian American Communities: An Interview with Andrea Chu — THE TROUBLE.
- Chevron, Violence, and Gentrification: The Bay Area Climate Threats to AAPI | Atmos
- Nature Behind Barbed Wire – Connie Y Chiang