Last night, our country witnessed an assault on the peace and security of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) in America. And unfortunately, the violence in Atlanta was not an aberration.
Data from the organization Stop AAPI Hate confirm the headlines we are seeing so frequently: hateful slurs, persecution, and assaults against the AAPI community are on the rise, and women are far more often the victim. All but one of the eight people killed in Atlanta were women; six of the victims were of Asian descent, according to police.
The gunman accused of the killings at three spas in the Atlanta area asserts his actions were not racially motivated, although authorities say they have not ruled out such bias as a motivating factor. Still, what is clear is that the climate in the United States has grown far more hostile, frightening, and alienating for our AAPI friends, colleagues, and loved ones. No doubt, the narrative that blames a country or a race for a virus contributes to the violence. But even before the novel coronavirus, America too often scapegoated the AAPI community, ignored their accomplishments, and erected barriers to their full participation in American life.
I stand with the AAPI community during this painful time, in an already difficult year. And we at the Urban Institute remain committed to doing work that spotlights the contributions of AAPI people to our society, illuminates persistent racist systems and structural barriers to opportunity, and offers fact-based solutions to dismantle them.