Veritas Education Leaders - BranchOut! Mourns Victims of Atlanta Shootings
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 21, 2021
Contact: Savannah Zhu, Student Management Team Leader
Vienna, VA - BranchOut! mourns the victims of the Atlanta shootings that occurred on the night of Tuesday, March 16th. Eight people were shot dead in Atlanta, Georgia and six of them were Asian women. We at BranchOut! and Veritas Education Leaders want to express our solidarity in grief and in outrage at this reprehensible act and the systemic discrimination that enabled it. We urge everyone to reflect somberly on what has caused us to arrive at this point and how we, as a community and a country, can work to make sure it does not happen again.
This recent and heartbreaking hate crime in Atlanta only further highlights the need for awareness and condemnation of xenophobia and racism. This act of hate and the surge in anti-Asian harassment were fueled by xenophobic phrases like “Chinese Virus,” years of inaction from many political figures and others in power, and much more. The BranchOut! youth Community Outreach program is 150+ strong, and many of our members are Asian American. BranchOut! stands with our mentors and the 3800+ Asian American families that have faced racial harassment this year. Racism has never and will never be acceptable.
Historically, racism against Asian Americans has been disregarded and normalized. Now, due to the Covid-19 virus that is suspected to have originated in China, racism against the Asian American community has only worsened. According to San Francisco University’s Asian American Studies professor Russell Jeung, these attacks have been a constant but often underreported issue in the Asian community. For years, Asians have faced consistent aggression and attacks, this is not new. However, racist attacks against Asians, especially the elderly, are often not reported for fear of retaliation or due to language barriers. Due to the normalization of xenophobic culture, Asians have found nothing but an invisible wall of indifference from others they confide in. Casual microaggressions ending in tense moments of silence and forced laughter are a suffocating and hurtful reality that many in the AAPI community have grown up with and become painfully accustomed to. This experience is close to universal among the AAPI community. AAPIs are often threatened with subtle racism and then pressured to stay silent with intimidating remarks about “being too sensitive” and “not being able to take a joke,” as if racism is something to be protected. Asian American Pacific Islanders are human and just as American as anyone else. It is not acceptable that AAPI feel unwelcome in our own country. These painful attacks harm our country as a whole when we need solidarity more than ever. Together, broader society must use this rising tide of awareness to stand with those that cannot or will not stand for themselves.
This year, there has been a 150% increase in Asian hate crimes specifically targeting the Asian elderly and female population. While Asian women are objectified and overly sexualized in the media and pop culture, white men have the privilege of being humanized despite egregious actions. In a statement given by Cherokee County police captain Jay Baker concerning the Atlanta shooting, he says the shooter “may have been lashing out” and “was [having] a really bad day.” The police also relayed that the shooter “told investigators the crimes were not racially motivated.” despite racist posts on the subject’s Facebook page. After this tragic incident, the explanation given to the public dismissed the Asian lives lost and justified the gunman’s irreversible actions as “having a bad day.” This blatantly disregards years of hurt and racism that AAPI communities have endured.
This discrimination can be eradicated only by a society that invites education and awareness. Though people from foreign countries and cultures can seem different and far away, we are all human beings equally worthy of respect. BranchOut! is proud of our Asian Americans members.
Demand accountability whenever it is safe. Silence supports racism, and racism supports no one. To report an incident in English and other languages, go to https://stopaapihate.org/.
Veritas Education Leaders - BranchOut! is a non-profit youth community organization that aims to promote STEM education and cross-cultural understanding through civic engagement. Established in 2015, BranchOut! has been serving the underserved communities in DC, Maryland, and Virginia by working with the public schools, charter schools, community centers, and family shelters. For more information, please visit us at www.velbranchout.org.