The Asian Community is Being Attacked and Staying SILENT is NOT ok.
Editorial Note: This post is part of our blog series about diversity, equity, and inclusion. These posts are written by staff on our Equity Committee and originally shared internally. We're sharing them publicly to be transparent about our internal dialogue, reflections and learning process as we work on being an anti-racist organization.
Authors' Note: This statement began as a single Equity Committee member’s statement, then later became a collaborative statement that all committee members have agreed upon. Though there are references to the first-person “I,” this statement is one that represents all 12 members.
This statement as originally shared internally, with staff on March 17th, 2021
Violence against the Asian Community keeps increasing since the beginning of pandemic.
Yesterday a tragedy happened in Georgia. A white supremacist man murdered eight people – six of them were Asian women, in a domestic terrorist hate crime.
A hate crime against ONE community is a hate crime against ALL communities. Their fight IS our fight.
Apathy – could be reflected on SILENCE – toward hate crimes only uphold white supremacy.
It’s wrong. Period.
It needs to stop.
We do not condone violence against Asian from our community or any others.
However, who is considered “Asian” in America? –– It’s complicated.
The Census Bureau Defines a person of the Asian Race as:
“Having origins in any of the original peoples of the Far East, Southeast Asia, or the Indian subcontinent.”
For example: Japan, China, India, Pakistan, Indonesia, Singapore, Philippine, Maldives, etc.
It sounds straight forward, but it’s not America.
What defines Asian in America?
American culture tends not to regard ALL regions in Asia as equally Asian.
Here, physical composition is often used to determine if someone is Asian, rather than geography.
To be honest – that what made me had an identity crisis the first couple of years since I moved here from my home country.
How many countries are actually in Asia?
The UN says there are technically 48 countries in Asia, divided into 6 sub regions:
Northern Asia, e.g. Siberia
Western Asia, e.g. Armenia, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Palestine, Israel, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirate, Turkey, etc.
Central Asia, e.g. Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan. etc.
Eastern Asia, e.g. China, Japan, Korea N, Korea S, etc.
Southern Asia, e.g. India, Pakistan, Maldives, Sri Lanka, etc.
Southeast Asia, e.g. Thailand, Indonesia, Cambodia, Singapore, etc.
If you Google “Asian food near me” it is unlikely that restaurants from any of these specific sub regions will pop up.
Various countries around the world define Asian people differently.
Countries like Canada, Sweden, and Norway consider people of Asian background to be people from all Asian countries.
In the UK the term “Asian” is more commonly associated with people of South Asian region.
So, why isn’t there a global definition of Asian?
Because history largely determines how a country defines Asian people.
For example: In the UK, the breakup of the British Empire contributed to a wave of immigration from South Asia. So “Asian” often refers to people from India subcontinent.
In America, contact with Asian cultures was predominantly via East Asia countries in the mid-1900s. The US was at war with Japan, then Korea, then Vietnam, and has occupied other parts. In addition, the Immigration & Nationality Act 1965 made way for large scale immigration from Asian to US.
Why understanding it matters?
On one hand, there is power in Asians of all background unifying under that broader identity, and it can prevent feelings of erasure.
However, it is important to acknowledge the UNIQUE differences of EACH group in order to meet the NEEDS of those communities, which can be VERY different.
I am Indonesian, I am Asian.
But I recognized that the current conversation on Anti-Asian attacks stemming from pandemic rhetoric are unique to groups with specific physical features.
Even though the term “Asian” can get complicated, it is important to understand that the recent attacks are happening to a specific group.
No matter how we identify ourselves, remember to be supportive. We are stronger in solidarity.
So, say it again with us – I do not condone violence against Asian, whether from my community or any others.