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Statement Against Anti-Asian Racism and Misogyny and the Mass Shooting of Asian Women in Atlanta

The Department of American Studies and the Race, Indigeneity, Gender & Sexuality Initiative stand in solidarity with Asian/Asian American communities
March 19, 2021

The Department of American Studies at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities (UMN-TC) a founding departmental member of the Race, Indigeneity, Gender & Sexuality Initiative (RIGS) at UMN-TC stands in solidarity and grieves with Asian/Asian American communities in light of the recent mass shooting of six Asian women and two others in Atlanta, Georgia, on March 18, 2021. We unequivocally condemn this anti-Asian racist and misogynistic violence and femicide that targeted Asian immigrant women working in the intimate care industry.

We see and understand this as gendered, sexualized, and classed anti-Asian racism and misogyny that has a long and persistent history in and outside the United States. Most notably, the Page Act of 1875 was an anti-Asian immigration law that banned the entry of Chinese women to the United States, constructing Chinese women as “immoral” and as “prostitutes.” The US has also participated in or instigated a number of wars in Asia (for example, the US-Philippines War, the US-Korean War, WWII, and the US-Vietnam War) which created the conditions for US military personnel to buy the sexual services and emotional labor of local Asian women at a time when local economies were severely disrupted. The hyper-sexualization of Asian women by white men and other men in the Global North, including in and from the US, has continued due to massive tourism in/to Asia and racist portrayals of Asian/Asian American women in popular culture, including Hollywood films, tv, and the pornography industry (see Celine Shimizu’s The Hypersexuality of Race: Performing Asian/American on Screen and Scene, 2007.) While we understand that immigrant women of color working in intimate/sex industries are particularly vulnerable, we also believe that many women of color, immigrants, and migrants have agency in choosing their livelihoods, so we encourage the general public and the media to be respectful in how they discuss or describe the Asian/Asian American women who were killed in Atlanta.

We see the rise of anti-Asian violence and violence against immigrants and refugees as having direct roots in the Trump Administration and Trump’s explicit anti-immigrant, anti-refugee, anti-Muslim, and anti-Mexican/Latinx policies, as well as Trump’s specific anti-Asian/anti-Chinese rhetoric during his trade war with The People’s Republic China and in his attempts to distract the general public by blaming China for the current COVID-19 global pandemic. We encourage and expect the Biden Administration and state and local officials to be more proactive in creating systemic change, particularly around anti-Asian racism, discrimination, bias, and hate-crimes against Asians/Asian Americans. We also encourage our campus community and other people living in Minnesota to continue to educate themselves about anti-Asian violence and femicides and to support Asian/Asian American campus and community-based organizations in Minnesota.

Some local organizations to learn about and support

In Solidarity,

The Department of American Studies, UMN-TC