AfroSocialists & Socialists of Color
Posted March 26, 2021
On March 16th, six Asian massage parlor workers in Atlanta, Georgia were murdered — becoming the latest victims in a long, exhausting string of deadly attacks in the name of white supremacy. This incident is part of a significant uptick in anti-Asian, racist, hate-motivated violence in the US this year; Stop AAPI Hate, a coalition of Asian American advocacy groups, has recorded over 3000 cases of such attacks since March 2020 (many of which have gone unreported to local police departments). In the midst of this tragedy, elected officials have used the COVID-19 pandemic to scapegoat Asians — resorting to language such as Kung Flu” or “China Virus” to fan the violent flames of white supremacist rage.
These violent incidents have started to make their rounds on “mainstream” outlets — as elected officials, civil society organizations, and celebrities have all called for action. Major rallies were held in Oakland and New York to raise awareness. Still, as a multi-racial coalition of organizers, we are troubled by the carceral logic that permeates so many of these demands for action and awareness. We affirm, in solidarity, that truly combating anti-Asian violence will not and cannot happen by placing more cops in Asian communities, or by calling for a dedicated Anti-Asian Hate Crime Task Force within the NYPD. We cannot place our trust in agents of the police industrial complex — who continue to deport, brutalize, and murder Black, Indigenous, Latinx, and Asian communities with virtual impunity.
This reality of violence and discrimination against Asian Americans is not new and not isolated. The earliest anti-immigrant policies in this country were designed to exclude the Chinese. From the Rock Springs massacre in 1885 to Vincent Chin’s murder in 1982, Asian workers in our country have been abused and murdered for supposedly “taking jobs away” from white workers — a familiar logic that has been further energized in recent years by the state’s Sinophobic rhetoric against China. South Asians, especially in the post-9/11 period, have faced widespread Islamophobic abuse and violence. Though not all massage parlor workers identify as sex workers, they have long been stigmatized and criminalized by anti-sex work initiatives from the state and its carceral allies. Deportations of Southeast Asian migrants continue to occur en masse under the Biden administration — even as President Biden claims to “condemn” violence against Asian communities.
The roots of this violence run deep and are shaped by the heritage and reality of racial capitalism. They require systemic, transformative change beyond celebrity philanthropy, politicians’ empty gestures, and other types of stop-gap measures. New York City’s Chinatown’s poverty rate is 30% compared to the city-wide rate of 17.3%, while Los Angeles’ Chinatown’s median household income is the third-lowest in the county. Asian American communities continue to be displaced by gentrification — perpetuated by majority-white corporate developers in collusion with Asian American liberal elites, transnational capital, and many Democratic politicians.
In the throes of this violence, Black and Asian working-class people have often been pitted against one another in a shared ecosystem of scarcity constructed by white capitalists and other elites of color. Because some of the recent assailants of Asian Americans were Black, we have also seen long-existing anti-Black sentiments among Asian Americans spike, with many in our communities calling for more policing and other measures that would be devastating and deadly for Black, brown, and working-class communities.
As anti-racist socialists of color, we wholeheartedly condemn and reject demands, especially from our own communities, that seek to reinforce racism against Black communities. Asian Americans have long been used as a wedge to divide communities of color, with our many complex identities pigeonholed into the neoliberal logic of “the model minority.” Perpetuating anti-Blackness is no solution to the recent wave of anti-Asian hate crimes; instead, combating anti-Blackness is the only way to resist the divisions among our communities, and to collectively push forward a redistributive and reparative socialist program that uplifts us all.
This means that we must recognize that many of the Asian American liberal elites — who have only now jumped on the bandwagon to condemn the hate crimes — are the same ones who have perpetuated our daily reality of oppression through wage theft, environmental harm, gentrification, and other weapons of capitalism.
In addition, we condemn both the Trump and Biden administrations’ hawkish rhetoric against China, which has further bolstered these racist attacks domestically. Instead of exceptionalizing China’s oppressive program against its ethnic minorities, we must recognize how many of these techniques are direct appropriations of racist US surveillance and counter-insurgency programs that were specifically developed for use against its own communities of color and other racialized victims of imperialism. These geopolitical games only benefit those at the top, and perpetuate harm to everyday Asian and Asian Americans stuck in between this internecine conflict, be it Chinese workers or Central Asians within the diaspora.
Instead, we uplift the self-organized efforts of Asians and Asian Americans from below, from Chinese for Black Lives organizers who have organized outreach to Chinatown businesses during last summer’s protests, to the many mutual aid efforts powered by community organizations. DSA AFROSOC caucus stands in solidarity with Asian American communities who are collectively resisting not only the recent wave of racist attacks, but also long-standing racist structures of oppression from both the US government and the white working-class. We condemn the New York and Atlanta police departments, among other arms of state repression, who are using the tragic deaths of migrant workers to deploy more police into working-class communities of color. We call for solidarity especially with those who are on the margins of Asian diasporic communities: sex workers, prisoners, the unemployed, among others. Genuine socialist transformation will not be built without democratic and multi-ethnic class solidarity that uplifts the struggles of those at the centers of exploitation.
Chinatown Art Brigade (NYC)
Chinese Staff and Workers’ Association (NYC)
18 Million Rising (national)
Flushing Anti-Displacement Alliance (NYC)
Asian Pacific Environmental Network (Oakland)
Chinese Progressive Association (San Francisco)
Chinese for Black Lives (national)
Chinatown Community for Equitable Development (LA)
Asian American Feminist Collective (NYC)
Red Canary Song (NYC)
MinKwon Center (NYC)
Mekong NYC (NYC)
SEAC VILLAGE (NC)
Southeast Asian Freedom Network (SEAFN, national)
Việt Solidarity & Action Network (VSAN, national)
RAISE NYC (NYC)
Asian Prisoners Support Committee
SWAN Vancouver (Canada)
Flushing Workers Center (NYC)
Asian Americans Advancing Justice (national, with Atlanta chapter)
National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (national, with Atlanta chapter)
Asian Immigrant Women Advocates (San Francisco)
This statement was published bt the AfroSocialists and Socialists of Color on the Medium website here.