AAF to hold a Peace Vigil for Victims of Asian Hate; NaFFAA enjoins AAPI groups to take action

by Jay Domingo, PDM Staff Writer

NEW YORK – A Peace Vigil for Victims of Asian Hate to honor the Atlanta shootings victims will be held outdoors on March 19 at 6 p.m. at Union Square in Manhattan. The vigil, organized by the Asian American Federation (AAF), will recognize the countless lives that have been affected by the anti-Asian violence. It will call upon elected leaders and all New Yorkers to ensure greater safety and accountability for vulnerable Asian Americans.

AAF said that they invited members and leaders of the communities to mourn the victims of senseless violence and brutality in the wake of the recent shootings on Tuesday, March 16, in Atlanta, Georgia. Murdered were eight individuals in three Atlanta area businesses, six of whom were Asian American women.

The AAF said it stands with its colleagues at Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Atlanta and the Center for Pan Asian Community Services. It offered its support to victims’ families and the Asian American community of Atlanta to heal from the horrific violence.

“We wholeheartedly reject racism, xenophobia, anti-Blackness, Islamophobia, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, and other ugly forms of hate that seek to divide our communities,” AAF said. “We reject any ideals that fuel paranoia and distrust within and between our communities.”

According to the Stop AAPI Hate reporting platform, the Asian American community has suffered nearly 3,800 bias incidents nationally in the past year. In New York City, bias incidents number over 700, based on figures collected by AAF, Stop Hate, NYPD, and the Commission on Human Rights.

The National Federation of Filipino American Associations (NaFFAA) expressed its sadness over the multiple attacks. It urged all to take action against hate in solidarity with other AAPI organizations, such as the National Council of Asian Pacific Americans.

“We are tired of seeing these attacks. We need to acknowledge the intersectionality that is happening here: the women in our community are perceived as both Asian and women, and the relationship between racism and sexism here contributes to the disparity. The same goes for our elderly. We need action from the government and support from other communities to protect our people from these attacks,” said Brendan Flores, National Chairman of NaFFAA.

NaFFAA outlined its action terms, which include:

  • Supporting the reauthorization of legislation specifically designed to protect women of color, such as the Violence Against Women Act and the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women bill.
  • Demanding an Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) task force so that our communities can provide input when drafting national legislation.
  • Promoting educational resources on racism, sexism, ableism, homophobia, and other identities.

Madalene Xuan-Trang Mielke, President, and CEO of the Asian Pacific American Institute for Congressional Studies (APAICS) said that while details of the murders are still under investigation, there is one constant about the Georgia crime. That is the trauma passes on among the Asia American community. “Continued violence will serve only to exacerbate the pain, anger, and fear our communities hold,” Mielke said. “Historically, Asian Americans have been victimized, berated, and killed – from the times of Chinese exclusion and Japanese incarceration to the inflammatory rhetoric spread over the Coronavirus pandemic.”

“Racism has no place in our country,” she added. “… [W]e are hopeful that as a country we can learn about this history and achieve proper justice for Asian Americans.”

The Council of Korean Americans (CKA) also extended its deepest sympathies to the victims and families of those involved in the shootings at spas in the greater Atlanta. Of the eight that lost their lives, four were Korean women, according to media reports.

“We are devastated by the terrible violence in Atlanta and mourn with the families of these victims,” stated CKA Executive Director Abraham Kim in a statement. “Regardless of the motive, the effect of this shooting on our communities is clear. Our hearts go out to all those who are experiencing deep feelings of grief and anger.”

Meanwhile, AF3IRM, a transnational feminist organization, also issued a statement condemning the murders “that pierce deeply during Women’s History Month, a time when women around the world rise up to demand an end to violence against us.” AFFIRM invited all people to unite in solidarity to fight all racism and male supremacy, which it says are “the root causes that perpetuate our collective suffering.”

“We are witnessing violence that results from the fetishization of Asian women, and AF3IRM is grieving this horrifying display of what male entitlement can achieve under a system that upholds it. But we must be clear that the sexualization of women of color is not a “women’s issue.” The treatment of our bodies as property to be taken, used, or disposed of upholds patriarchal capitalism at its core,” AFFIRM said. (With Ricky Rillera)

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