Through rage and grief, Anakbayan Toronto sends our deepest condolences to the victims and the victims’ families of the violent mass shooting and hate crime that occurred in Atlanta last Tuesday, March 16. This targeted attack based on anti-Asian racism resulted in the deaths of 8 people, 6 of which were Asian women. While the victims’ names have been released, we respect their families’ wishes not to share them.
At the Atlanta Police Department’s press conference addressing the shooting, the police denied these killings to be racially motivated, attempting to excuse the killings with the murderer’s sexual addiction and having a “bad day.” The circumstances in Canada are no different from America with rising hate crimes against Asians, especially against working-class Asian women, migrant workers, and sex workers. Last February in Toronto, a similar act of terrorism motivated by misogynistic incel (involuntary celibates) ideas resulted in the murder of Ashley Noelle Arzaga, a 24-year-old mother and massage parlour worker.
Anti-Asian racism existed before COVID-19, but the pandemic only exacerbated these sentiments. Systemic issues of racism, misogyny, xenophobia, and US imperialism are at the root of this horrific event. Anti-Asian racism has historical connections to war, economic control, and power facilitated by the US-military industrial complex. In many Asian countries such as the Philippines, the U.S fuels sex industries around US military bases, where many women and their bodies are commodified to cater to foreigners and military men. The ceaseless attacks that have been happening are all connected to the cruelty U.S imperialism enables.
Canada’s roots are also tainted by the racialization and exploitation of Asian migrant workers. Here are a few historical policies and laws that were Anti-Asian: Chinese Head Tax of 1885; Voting prohibitions in federal elections in 1885; Japanese Internment Camps in 1945; Prohibiting Chinese Males to employ white women in Ontario, Saskatchewan and BC.
Canadian immigration and labour policies continue to exploit racialized people in particular. During the pandemic, there have been over 1,000 self-reported incidents of anti-Asian racism, ranging from verbal harassment to physical assault. Of these incidents, 40% occurred in Ontario. However, we recognize there is a massive under-reporting of hate crimes among Asian women, the elderly, and those with precarious immigration status due to potential repercussions of this precarity, language or cultural barriers, or distrust of police.
Today, we must look at how this heinous state violence is rooted in imperialism, and how corporate media’s amplification of Anti-Asian remarks sustain such violence. It is inextricable how it shaped the socio-political and economic conditions of the migrants’ homelands which led them to migrate abroad to seek better “opportunities.”
We at Anakbayan Toronto mourn and stand in solidarity with the Asian American communities, especially working-class immigrants and other oppressed and exploited peoples in imperialist countries like the US and Canada. Through this grief and rage, we must unite and organize with collective action. We must continue to fight against injustices such as racism and white supremacy built under US imperialism.