Like many in our local community and across our nation, we at the Community Foundation are deeply grieved by the repeated and escalating attacks targeting Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. Over the past year, we have witnessed random beatings of individuals and planned mass murders that have targeted our fellow Americans for no other reason than their race and heritage. These hate crimes are part of a long legacy of terror, violence and murder that has occurred on American soil and that seeks to preserve systems of concentrated power and privilege.
On May 20, 2021, the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act was signed into law. This legislation aims to acknowledge the rise in hate crimes as well as make reporting more accessible, expedite investigations, and prevent future crimes. It is notable and important that the hate crime legislation became law during Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. In the last year, there have been over 6,600 instances of hate crimes against Asian American and Pacific Islander communities. And we know that many instances targeting these communities go unreported.
It is not enough to acknowledge and condemn the hatred and violence. We have a responsibility also to wrestle with the ways in which we have been complicit as a society in perpetuating manufactured myths of Asian Americans as the model minority and perpetual foreigner. Narratives and tropes like these are tactics of systemic racism that hold in place a hierarchy of human value. In many ways, the recent violence is making visible to the public consciousness an identity and experience that for so long has been deemed acceptable in our society because of its invisibility and ‘proper’ or ‘good’ assimilation. We must resist the persistent temptation to look away.
Tragedy—however close or far—hurts. It hurts us all. At the Community Foundation, we believe that we are deeply interconnected as people sharing a time, a place, a history, and a humanity. We are interconnected both in our victories and in our suffering. While each person feels each tragedy differently based on unique lived experiences and truths, we also know that every human is affected by violence, death, injustice, trauma, loss and pain. Now is a moment to pause and truly listen to the grief expressed by those around us and to hear their stories. In so doing, we can gain the awareness and understanding that allows us to stand in solidarity, to see one another’s humanity, and to pursue together a future where we all can belong and thrive.