Statement on the National Rise of Hate Crimes Against Asian Americans, and the Murder of 6 Asian-American Women in Atlanta

Socialist Alternative and I, like so many community members, are horrified by the murders of 8 people, including 6 Asian-American working-class women, in Atlanta last night. Condolences and solidarity to the grieving family members and friends. It is vital that we all stand with our Asian American neighbors against the spiking hate crimes happening across the country, driven by the far-right’s racist and xenophobic rhetoric around the COVID-19 pandemic.

Since the beginning of the pandemic last March, there have been 3,800 reports of hate incidents targeting Asian-Americans across the country, 68% of which were against women. This uptick was stoked by Trump’s xenophobic rebranding of COVID as the “China virus” or the “Kung flu,” fanning the flames of existing racism against Asian-Americans.

While details are still emerging about the perpetrator Robert Aaron Long, it is clear that deeply held sexism was a core motivator in these murders. He claims that he targeted these businesses for providing “an outlet for his addiction to sex,” insinuating that he purchased sex from the women he killed. If true, this is an absolutely grotesque illustration of the extreme violence sex workers are exposed to and why it ranks among the most dangerous jobs. Regardless of whether he patronized these businesses or not, fetishizing and over-sexualizing Asian women is exactly why Asian massage parlors and spas are seen as places to solicit sex in the first place.

Even here in Seattle, we’ve seen outright attacks on community members in the International District, and a community protest against violence in Hing Hay Park. You can watch powerful testimony from that protest through this link (…), which demonstrates that these attacks were not financially motivated, but based in bigotry.

However, the solution is not more police in the streets as Seattle Police Chief Diaz is suggesting. Statistics show that increasing police does not keep us safe, as women, as workers, as immigrants, as people of color. Public safety improves dramatically when substantial progressive victories are won against endemic inequality. Under capitalism, the elite ensure that in order to repress the majority, women and people of color and the LGBTQ community are subjected to intense oppression.

We need a serious left alternative and united movements of working people against sexual violence, racism, and bigotry. We need these movements to unite around powerful demands like Medicare for All, cancelling rents, mortgages and debts for workers during the pandemic, and free childcare and a Green jobs program funded by increasing the Amazon Tax on profiteering corporations.

Without a left alternative, we can expect the corporate failures of the Democrats to continue fueling right populism, and pulling people into their vile rhetoric that drives the harrowing violence like we saw yesterday. Ultimately, to win a world free of racist bigotry and violence, we will need to go beyond these demands and build a socialist society free of exploitation and inequality, built on solidarity and cooperation. Let’s stand in solidarity with our AAPI neighbors and community rightly terrified for their lives and their families.

As Asian-Americans face a disturbing increase in violent attacks, and as COVID and the resulting economic crisis has exacerbated existing racial inequalities and the oppression of women, we urgently need a multi-racial, multi-gender mass movement to challenge all forms of racism, including racial violence against Asian Americans, and extreme sexism. #StopAsianHate #StopAAPIHate

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