JSA Student-Run Racial Justice Taskforce Statement
To the JSA community:
We, the members of the Student Racial Justice Task Force, are deeply disheartened and outraged by the mass shooting that occurred on March 16th at three Asian-run spas in Atlanta, Georgia. This racially motivated attack led to the deaths of eight people — six of whom were women of Asian descent.
The shooter maintains that he suffers from a “sexual addiction” and claims that the spas were “a temptation for him that he wanted to eliminate.” This justification, as awful as it already is, stems from a long history of objectification and fetishization of minorities, specifically those of Asian descent, in the United States.
Anti-Asian hate crimes are nothing new, and have occurred throughout American history, but since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the hate toward Asian Americans in the US has substantially escalated. Xenophobic narratives from American media outlets and leaders calling China an “incubator of viruses” and accusing it of having “ulterior motives” with vaccine production have only served to strengthen the hate and resentment of Asian communities in the United States. Referring to the virus by alternative names, including “China virus” and “Kung-flu” has exacerbated hateful narratives about Asian-Americans, yet the use of these harmful names has been repeatedly defended at the highest levels of our government. Furthermore, false narratives surrounding the origins of COVID-19 have spread through the internet, including the myth that the virus started because people ate "bat soup.”
The attacks in Atlanta last Tuesday were unequivocally devastating, but not surprising. The Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism reported a 145% surge in anti-Asian hate crimes reported to the police in 2020, and StopAAPIHate found that 68% of those hate crimes were reported by women. Many of our elected officials have done too little to combat the spread of anti-Asian hate -- and too much to contribute to it.
As members of a student-led civic organization, we stand with the Asian Americans of this country who are being viciously targeted by hate crimes like this one. However, while discussing the matter and spreading awareness is a good start, it is not enough to bring about real, tangible change in our society.
Here are some ways to be a good ally to the Asian American community:
The JSA Student Racial Justice Task Force
About the Student Racial Justice Task Force: The JSA Student Racial Justice Task Force is a group of 23 students from all over the nation, who joined together in June of 2020 in the aftermath of several incidents of police brutality against Black people in the United States. The Task Force members meet weekly to discuss and plan ways to combat racial injustice within our schools and communities.
The Junior State of America Foundation is horrified by the racially motivated violence against Asians, Asian-Americans, and Pacific Islanders across the country. Unfortunately, this week’s events in Georgia are not unprecedented but are instead the latest in an increasing number of hateful actions and violence against the AAPI community in the past year. Since the beginning of the pandemic, there have been a record 3,000 recorded Anti-Asian hate crimes in the United States, and Anti-Asian hate crimes have spiked 150 percent since the pandemic began.
Members of the AAPI community have been victims of pervasive discrimination and stereotyping that is often overlooked and dismissed. We must work to resist ill-informed, biased beliefs about Asian-Americans and people of Asian descent. This attack sits at the intersection of gender-based, class-based, and race-based violence. It comes after a year of rhetoric denigrating Asians and Asian Americans.
We are heartbroken about the loss of life in Georgia. We are heartbroken that America continues to struggle with racially motivated violence. Let us be the first to defend the rights of all Americans. Let us be a part of the solution. If not now, when?
Stop Asian Hate.
The JSA Team
The Washington Post