NATSA Statement regarding the Atlanta Shootings and Anti-Asian Violence
March 22th, 2021
It is with profound grief and outrage that we write this statement to condemn the Atlanta shootings. Earlier this week, eight people were attacked and killed in the spas located in the Atlanta area, including six women of Asian descent. Our hearts go out to the loved ones of the victims. Although the murderer claimed that the incident was a result of “sexual addiction,” the rush to identify a mental illness as the motivation prevents us from understanding the complexities of a crime like this. The murderer could be mentally ill, however, mental illness does not cause racism, and racism is not a mental illness. This is a hate crime inseparable from the long history of anti-Asian racism in the U.S., white entitlement to the bodies of Asian women, and structural dehumanization of those who are differently marginalized. We need to name the violence for what it was. North American Taiwan Studies Association (NATSA) stands in solidarity with Asian, Asian American, and Pacific Islander friends and those who feel threatened, heartbroken, and enraged by the hate crime.
We emphasize that this deadly incident, along with the spike of anti-Asian attacks during the pandemic, is not unprecedented. Racialization of Asians and Asian Americans--through the dual mechanisms of “yellow peril” and “model minority”--has existed for over a century as a means to sustain settler colonialism and white supremacy. In this past year, we have witnessed the increasing cases of racially-motivated hate crimes. According to Stop AAPI Hate (https://stopaapihate.org), nearly 3,800 hate incidents across the United States have been reported since March 2020. The violent incident in Atlanta was not an isolated event, but a result of the structural oppression of Asian and Asian American communities in North America that involves dehumanization, sexualization, and fetishization of Asian women. At the intersection of multiple violent regimes, Asian massage workers bear distinct vulnerability. As Dr. Kimberlé Crenshaw and The African American Policy Forum write in their statement, “Following racist and sexist tropes, Asian massage parlors are often framed as illegal and immoral sites that justify criminalization, surveillance, raids, and deportation. As a result, many cannot safely call the police for protection when harmed without risking arrest and incarceration themselves.”
We urge individuals, organizations, and leaders to listen to the needs of the community of Asian massage workers and to dismantle the criminalization of individuals connected to sex work. We stand with AAPI individuals and organizations as well as all oppressed communities who have always exemplified precarious and resilient lives. We must name the intersectional and interconnected violence on which the United States was founded. Mourning and healing cannot begin until we call out the violent incident for what it was.
NATSA is an autonomous academic organization that is dedicated to Taiwan studies in North America. We will continue to participate in the larger anti-racist and anti-xenophobic dialogues and to invest in allyship-building that helps undo sexism, misogyny, homo and transphobia that inflict many Asian, Asian American, and Pacific Islander students, scholars, and researchers. It is also our commitment to creating a safe space where people of different positionalities belong, and shared struggles are acknowledged.
North American Taiwan Studies Association