A lot of us are struggling, let’s talk about it

A lot of us are struggling right now.

A lot of us are struggling with the fact that both shooters were Asian. Let’s talk about it

As we process our collective grief, we find ourselves struggling with the responsibility of condemning the shootings while navigating anti-Asian violence and respectability politics. We find ourselves forced to speak for all Asians everywhere, an impossible and unhelpful task. We’ve even been denied the space to grieve without others using this tragedy as an opportunity to push dangerous narratives.

What we’re seeing & Why It’s Harmful

“Asian on Asian crime”
In the past week alone, the use of “Asian on Asian crime” online has increased by 46,000 %, (1) and we are now seeing politicians use the phrase as well (2). When white people kill white people, the phrase “white on white crime” is never used. The phrase “Black on Black crime” is a racist media tactic used to individualize violence and scapegoat Black communities (3). “Black on Black crime” is a myth that has been used to justify police brutality and state repression (4). When media outlets refer to “Asian on Asian crime,” they’re borrowing from this racist tactic.

What We Can Do About It

Instead of using “Asian on Asian Crime,” use this opportunity to name root issues and engage in deeper conversations within our communities. We must analyze all violence under a systemic lens and address issues like Intimate Partner Violence, patriarchy and toxic masculinity, and workplace violence. Asian American feminists like Yves Tong Nguyen, Ny Nourn, Hyejin Shim, and Connie Wun are already doing important work to address and end violence at its root – amplify their voices and their perspectives (5).

What we’re seeing & Why It’s Harmful

“Asian shooters prove that anti-Asian violence and white supremacy aren’t the problem.”
Conservatives have been quick to use the identity of the shooters as evidence that anti-Asian violence and white supremacy do not exist. This is false. We know that white supremacy and xenophobia are at the core of the generational trauma that creates violence in our communities.

What We Can Do About It

We must continue to uplift our own narratives. Let’s highlight both the long, under-recognized history of anti-Asian violence in the U.S. and actively combat white supremacy within our own communities. We need better services, healthcare, and support for our elders, youth and all our people. (6)

Connie Wun of AAPI Women Lead explains that, “calling every form of violence against us a hate crime… is actually a problem, because it can minimize everything else that causes the violence—as if violence is only interpersonal, something you see on the streets, something Instagrammable. Violence against us is layered and systemic, and most of it cannot be seen on TV or social media.” (7)

What we’re seeing & Why It’s Harmful

“We need more police to prevent shootings”
We get it. People are rightfully afraid for their lives and want protection. So do we. However, we know that increased policing does not equal increased safety. Policing in L.A. County takes up a staggering 42% of the budget, despite complaints of corruption, fiscal mismanagement, civil rights abuses and overall ineffectiveness in preventing violence. (8)

What We Can Do About It

We keep us safe. Instead of pouring money into policing that doesn’t work, let’s join our elders to create safety plans and fight for community services like non-carceral mental health programs that target the roots of violence. Together, let’s end gun violence, including the police and military. Because, as activist and artist Tourmaline points out: “The guns that are killing the most people are actually regulated and legalized. They’re guns that the U.S. Army owns, the guns that the NYPD owns.” (9) Reimagining what safety looks like for our communities isn’t just possible – we’re already doing it.

Sources

1- Data from Meltwater.

2- Fifth & Mission Podcast. ‘Dancing around the Elephant in the Room’: Rep. Evan Low on the Limits of California’s Gun Laws. San Francisco Chronicle, 2023, https://www.sfchronicle.com/podcasts/article/monterey-park-half-moon-bay-mass-shootings-17738989.php.

3 – “Black On Black Crime,” The Root. https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=10157342039570231

4 – Nasheed, Jameelah. “Black-on-Black Crime” Is a Dangerous Myth. Teen Vogue, 28 July 2020, https://www.teenvogue.com/story/black-on-black-crime-myth.

5 – Yves Tong Nguyen, Ny Nourn, Hyejin Shim, Connie Wun, Stephanie Cho. Beyond #StopAsianHate: Criminalization, Gender, & Asian Abolition Feminism. Haymarket Books, 2021, https://www.haymarketbooks.org/blogs/328-beyond-stopasianhate-criminalization-gender-amp-asian-abolition-feminism.

6 – Lee, Jennifer, and Karthick Ramakrishnan. Who Counts as Asian, and What Counts as Anti-Asian Hate? Medium, 12 May 2021, https://stopasianhate.medium.com/who-counts-as-asian-and-what-counts-as-anti-asian-hate-37e5b455eedd.

7 – Chung, Nicole. Violence Against Asian American Women Is Rooted in More Than Just ‘Hate.’ The Atlantic, 17 Mar. 2022, https://newsletters.theatlantic.com/i-have-notes/623346923a37470020cf3ec3/violence-against-asian-women-with-connie-wun/.

8 – Alé, Ivette, et al. Care First Budget: LA County Reimagined. JusticeLA, Mar. 2021, https://defundpolice.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/CareFirstLABudget.pdf.

9 –
Reina Gossett + Dean Spade (Part 4): Gun Control + Producing Dangerousness. Barnard Center for Research on Women, Feb. 2014, https://bcrw.barnard.edu/videos/reina-gossett-dean-spade-part-4-gun-control-producing-dangerousness/.

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