WASHINGTON — In the wake of Tuesday’s violent and deadly shootings at three Atlanta-area spas that claimed the lives of eight people, most of them women of Asian descent, faith leaders are calling out a pattern of violence against BIPOC communities amid the dangerous rise in anti-Asian rhetoric and hate over the past year. Sending condolences to the loved ones of those who were murdered and expressing solidarity with the Asian community in Atlanta and across the country, leaders with Faith in Action and Faith in Action Fund recommitted to their efforts to hold officials accountable, dismantle systems of racism, misogyny, and xenophobia, and build a world in which everyone belongs and is able to thrive.
“We are heartbroken and filled with righteous anger over the mass murder in Atlanta. We stand in solidarity with our Asian siblings, knowing that our fates are inextricably intertwined in the struggle for justice and racial equity,” said the Rev. Alvin Herring, executive director of Faith in Action. “Regardless of the shooter’s stated intent, we cannot and must not overlook the impact of the murders on the Asian community — especially women and working class people — amid a sharp rise in anti-Asian violence and rhetoric throughout the pandemic. The violence in Atlanta is not an isolated incident, but part of a pattern woven into the fabric of this country that results in deadly harm for BIPOC communities.”
“A year ago, we called out leaders who placed the blame for the pandemic on the Asian community, because we knew how dangerous othering people can be — that people lose their lives when someone determines people are so different they deserve death,” said the Rev. Deth Im, director of training and development at Faith in Action. “In the midst of a dramatic rise in anti-Asian rhetoric and violence that overwhelmingly impacts Asian women at higher rates than men, eight people, including six people of Asian descent, were murdered. We must understand the shooting within the context of our country’s past and recognize that this violence stems from the debilitating proliferation of white supremacy and the roots of systemic racism in the bedrock of our society. AAPI people in this country are trapped between being the model minority and perpetual foreigners. If we truly want to make strides toward a more just and equitable future, our nation must see AAPI as one of us, rather than as other.”
“Compounding the pain and fear caused by the horrific shooting is law enforcement’s apparent attempt to normalize the violence that occurred by dismissing the inherent racism of the crime and nearly excusing the shooter’s actions by claiming he had a ‘really bad day,’” said Andrea Marta, chief strategy officer of Faith in Action and executive director of the Faith in Action Fund. “It’s easy in the aftermath of hate-fueled violence to be overwhelmed by the systems in this country that allow these attacks to keep happening, but we must not lose sight that we can change things. Through organizing, we can help people see themselves in the margins in order to shift the narrative about what it means to be a human and have dignity in this country. We can build power to hold our officials accountable for their disparate responses and the racist, misogynistic and xenophobic impact of their rhetoric and policies. And we can make sure our neighbors — including those within the AAPI community — are safe, healthy, able to thrive and have a voice in the decisions that shape their lives.”
Faith in Action, formerly known as PICO National Network, is the largest grassroots, faith-based organizing network in the United States. The nonpartisan organization works with 1,000 religious congregations in more than 200 cities and towns through its 46 local and state federations. For more information, visit www.faithinaction.org.