On Tuesday, March 16, 2021, 8 people, six of whom were of Asian descent, were killed by a suspected gunman in the State of Georgia. The tragic loss of these persons comes during a time, when people of Asian descent in the United States have been experiencing increasing anti-Asian hate, and, yet, there has been a history of such hate in the United States that has also been rooted in xenophobia and broader notions of who is defined as “American” and who has access to full citizenship rights. Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPoC) communities have faced similar, yet different histories of said treatment in the United States, and the particularized nature of race, affects racial groups and other intersections of social groups, differently. In understanding the long legacy of Anti-Asian racism in the United States, we are mindful of the way that Black Studies, since its inception, has been in solidarity with Ethnic Studies broadly and Asian American Studies, in particular. Together, our fields of scholarship have traced respective histories of violence and exclusion and imagined radical futures where all people can be free from oppression.
Although authorities have not settled on a motive for these heinous shootings, we are very concerned about the possible implications of intersectional influences of race and gender and how they can affect the hyper-sexualization and fetishization of women of Asian descent and reduce their humanity to sexual fantasy–a negative racial stereotype that evokes objectification, misogyny, racism, and sexualized violence. Furthermore, we are concerned about these implications for the interpretations of hate, criminality, and racial (domestic) terrorism. Within the study of Africana Studies, we also acknowledge and examine similar constructions of race and gender for Black women, for which Black feminist scholars also have noted the dual and interlocking oppressions of race and gender, which can not be disentangled.
In solidarity with the AAPI communities, we mourn the tragic loss of the victims of this recent violence. We are also reminded about calls for justice and equitable treatment that BIPoC communities have mobilized and challenged over time, continually, and in different spaces. As we continue to process the complexities of race in our society, we support the efforts to seek truth, justice, reform, and humanity for various groups that continue to struggle for equality, voice, and security.