Yesterday’s massacre in Atlanta of eight women of Asian descent reminds us once again that the currents of hate still flow strongly in our country. We strongly condemn this latest violence that has persisted since the start of the pandemic when our former president whipped up anti-Asian sentiment by repeatedly calling COVID-19 the “China virus” or the “Chinese virus.”
In addition to the Atlanta murders, we have seen numerous acts of violence against Asian in just the past few weeks. A 91-year-old Asian American was attacked from behind as he walked down the street in Oakland; an 84-year-old Thai American was murdered in San Francisco; a 64-year-old Vietnamese–American woman was assaulted in San Jose; and a Filipino–American man was slashed in the face in Manhattan. There were an estimated 2,500 reports of anti-Asian hate incidents related to COVID-19 in the seven months after the start of COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.
Last year, GMHC launched the “Distance Yourself from Hate” campaign in response to anti-Asian violence. The campaign featured public service announcements from leading voices in the arts, fashion, and entertainment industries calling on everyone to reject prejudice and spread the “Distance Yourself from Hate” message by wearing a specially designed mask.
Fighting stigma and discrimination is in our DNA at GMHC. We speak out against all hate speech and prejudice. We form coalitions with other organizations fighting for the rights of people living with HIV and AIDS as well as all LGBTQ+ people. We tirelessly advocate for changes to public policies that marginalize people because of who they are. We will continue to take a stand against violence and racism toward Asian Americans and support relevant policies to protect this community and other minorities.
We applaud the response of the new federal administration against the recent violence against Asian Americans. On Jan. 26, President Biden signed a memorandum “condemning and combatting racism, xenophobia, and intolerance against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders” (AAPI). His administration has pledged to coordinate efforts across the country to prevent hate crimes against AAPI individuals.
We all must continue supporting actions to combat anti-Asian violence and racism. This includes calling on elected officials and other community leaders to increase local efforts that will redefine community safety and ensure that those who commit criminal offenses against Asian American people are held accountable.