Reference: Ryan Leano, National Alliance for Filipino Concerns – National Steering Committee
Phone: 415-779-5994, firstname.lastname@example.org
NAFCON USA joins the API communities across the US in mourning and decrying the sudden and violent deaths of Asian-Americans in Atlanta who were the latest victims of hate crimes and senseless attacks against people of color. We grieve with their families over their loss and share the same history of racist violence, discrimination, and segregation. We vow to work with the aggrieved families and all people who seek justice and an end to systemic racism.
We are disturbed and concerned at how Asian-American women are the targets of gendered racial violence. Of the 3,800 Anti-Asian incidents reported during the pandemic, 68% were directed at women (Stop AAPI Hate). These attacks are symptoms of larger systemic problems that intend to sow fear among the people, divide marginalized communities against each other, and hedge the real issues behind these racist crimes and attacks. We encourage the whole API communities and people of color to be vigilant and act in the spirit of solidarity and community in this period of heightened racist violence to fight for justice for the victims and those who are still living.
Larger systemic problem
The attacks we are seeing are direct manifestations of the history of violence of U.S. colonialism in the Asia-Pacific and other countries that has led to the subjugation of the people as well as the economic, political, cultural and social conditions of these colonized countries. Colonialism is the worst form of national oppression. Even as some countries have their nominal independence from their colonial masters, the economic and political conditions of these countries are still tied to and dictated by the United States. For about eight decades now, countries like the Philippines have been under conditions where the majority of the people are landless peasants and living below poverty line, workers receive very low wages with no job security and benefits because of contractualization, etc. These conditions have forced people to migrate to advanced capitalist countries like the US, in order to find better opportunities. This results in people from poorer countries becoming sources of cheap labor. Worse, they become victims of systemic racism, misogyny, and inequality.
History of Violence Against the Asian Pacific Islander Community
The recent deadly attacks on elderly Asian Americans, including Filipinos, are not new. Neither are these isolated incidents. Racism is inherent in capitalism, especially in advanced ones like the U.S. that grew out of the exploitation of the cheap labor and resources of oppressed peoples and nations. In good times or in bad times, crisis or not, state policies and laws are installed according to the needs and demands of capitalism. The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 was a U.S. legislation that excluded Chinese from migrating to the U.S. to work as low-wage unskilled labor. This resulted from violent reactions among white American workers at the time out of fear of “taking their jobs away.” White workers were pitted against migrant workers.
We see companies continue to bring in people from other Asian countries as a source of low-wage unskilled labor. Due to violent reactions again, the Asian Exclusion Act of 1924 was enforced barring migrants from Asia to work in the US. Since the Philippines was a commonwealth of the U.S. at the time, Filipinos were allowed to migrate to the U.S. to work as unskilled labor and became targets of violent acts such as the Watsonville Riots of 1930 that targeted Filipino farmworkers. Violent incidents towards Filipinos were part of the resulting Filipino Repatriation Act of 1935, which provided single Filipinos free one-way transportation back to the Philippines, but made it very difficult for them to re-enter the U.S. if they wished to do so.
Historically, we have seen policies that affirm, uphold, and encourage xenophobic sentiments against Asian immigrants. As we grieve with the community and vow to work for justice, we have to recognize and hold accountable the state-endorsed harassment and violence against immigrants.
NAFCON USA encourages solidarity, community organizing, and community-led programs amidst increased attacks on the Asian community.
The solution to this violence cannot be increased police enforcement, which has only resulted in brutal murders of marginalized communities, including Filipinos. Instead, we must continue our work protecting and supporting each other, advocating for basic needs and rights of our communities such as economic stability, mental health, healthcare, and to advocate for change so that law enforcement is not perpetrating white supremacy, racism, misogyny and xenophobia.
The struggle against the root causes of systemic racism and other related problems is part of the democratic struggle of all oppressed people — blacks, whites and people of color. We should all work towards this goal.
NAFCON is a national alliance of Filipino organizations, institutions, and individuals that responds to the concerns of Filipinos in the US and in the Philippines by creating an action-oriented platform that brings people together through culture & heritage, education, health & wellness, and advocacy.