On March 16, 2021, eight people, including six Asian women massage workers, were killed at three spas in the Metro Atlanta area. As we mark the one year anniversary of this tragedy, we honor the victims, the survivors, and their families. We place their healing, care, and peace at the heart of our remembrance. We are grateful to the local and national communities of care that blossomed over the past year and that have centered the families of victims and survivors.
We have centered those most directly impacted by connecting them to critical services, and raising funds for victims and their families. For our broader community, we continue to tend to the process of healing by finding inspiration in the traditions of our elders. We are also continuing to advocate for policies and solutions that address the root causes of violence and hate so that we may all live in safe communities.
We have held our community members close as we navigate loss, grief, and trauma not only in the wake of the Atlanta spa shootings but in experiencing continued violence, misogyny, and racism against Asian Americans in Georgia and beyond. Most recently the brutal murders of Michelle Alyssa Go and Christine Yuna Lee within weeks of each other in New York City have renewed the fears and anxieties of Asian and Asian American women and femmes who are subjected to both gender and race-based discrimination and violence. In Albuquerque, NM, two Asian massage workers were killed during robberies at Asian spas, heightening the fears felt by Asian American and immigrant small business owners.
These highly visible tragedies also call our attention to the everyday experiences that the most vulnerable members of our communities face in the cross-hairs of white supremacy, misogyny, and imperialism: the racial and sexual exploitations wrought by the presence of U.S. militarism in Asia and the Pacific; the resulting geopolitical upheavals that force migration; the daily terrors of a system that criminalizes immigrants, massage workers, and sex workers; housing and financial insecurity; and the ongoing abuses and dangerous conditions that migrant, low-wage, service workers face daily.
To heal we must grapple with these truths and address white supremacy and misogyny as the root causes of violence and hate. To do so requires us to hold uncomfortable dualities. It means acknowledging the pain and fear that motivates some victims and community members to call for carceral solutions such as increased police presence, hate crimes legislation, and other forms of punishment; while at the same time interrogating how these responses criminalize and cause harm in the name of public safety.
Grappling with the truth also means confronting anti-Blackness in our Asian American communities. We cannot allow the tragedy of the shootings in Atlanta to justify policies that expand law enforcement and its disproportionate impacts on Black communities. Rather, alongside our Black, Indigenous, Latinx, Arab, and Pacific Islander allies, we are inspired to reimagine what justice, healing, love, and hope can look like for our communities.
Over the past year, we witnessed messages and acts of community care, empowerment, and solidarity reverberating in streets, parks, and community centers as more people have come together, bound by grief, and committed to radical change.
Together, we commit to push beyond the oppressive boundaries of white supremacy and anti-Blackness and build sustaining communities of care. We can address the needs of victims of racialized and gender-based violence while also holding our elected leaders accountable for creating policies that center our communities. This includes investing in community-based organizations that are often on the frontlines of caring for victims, survivors, and vulnerable communities in the languages they use and with sensitivity to their cultures, livelihoods, and immigration statuses. Our elected leaders must provide long-standing investments and resources for the families of victims and survivors well after the immediate crisis has abated, access to victims’ compensation funds, fully fund violence prevention and restorative justice programs, and public infrastructure and institutions focused on public health and education.
Together, we can struggle in more powerful ways for community safety and healing, for racial and economic justice, for stable housing, for access to quality health care, including mental health and education and a liveable wage, for the right to vote, for the right to organize, and for art and beauty in our neighborhoods. On this anniversary, we remember the lives taken and the families who still struggle without their loved ones, and we recommit to expanding and deepening our community of care for all communities, beginning in Atlanta and spreading throughout the country and the world.