On March 16, 2021, eight people were killed in a mass shooting in Atlanta, six of whom were Asian women.
This incident cannot be separated from the rise in acts of hatred against members of the Asian American and Pacific Islander community, women in particular.
In the year since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, there’s been an increase in reports nationwide to the organization Stop AAPI Hate, with 3,795 incidents of anti-Asian hate recorded between March 19, 2020 to Feb. 28, 2021.
Violence and discrimination against the AAPI community and Asian immigrants has a long and painful history in both the U.S. and colonial Hawai‘i. The racism and misogyny that fueled this recent tragedy, and the many acts of anti-Asian hate, illustrate that we have a long way to go in the fight against racism and gender inequality.
Here at home, our community is still reeling from the investigation and confirmation of discriminatory remarks by the Kaua‘i Police Department chief.
The public discourse continues, with many excusing the comments as off-colored jokes at best, or ignorance at worst. But the fact remains that at least one of these comments was related to official business of the KPD — a hiring decision. This is discrimination.
Furthermore, an anecdote which describes people of Japanese descent as untrustworthy in their business dealings and duplicitous in their communication cannot be brushed off as a joke.
This line of thinking, combined with racial stereotypes, have led to some of the most-harmful policies and darkest days in our history — Japanese internment camps during WWII, the Page Act of 1875, and the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act, to name a few.
As an organization dedicated to eliminating racism for people of all races, origins and ethnicities, the YWCA of Kaua‘i condemns the chief’s remarks in the strongest possible way.
We stand in solidarity with our law-enforcement officers who have experienced a hostile work environment as a consequence, and we call for transparency on the part of the Police Commission.
Public trust has been eroded, and an apology alone is not enough to regain the trust of the police department as a whole or the disparaged community. Silence is not an option or a solution.
Finally, we call on our island ‘ohana to resist and stand up to ill-informed, biased perspectives about Asian Americans and all people of Asian descent, to demand better from our leadership and from each other.
Renae Hamilton-Cambeilh is executive director, Emiko Meyers is board president, and Mia Carroll is assistant director, YWCA of Kaua‘i.
Source: The Garden Island