This article was published in Breaking the Chains Magazine Vol. 6, No. 2 entitled “Til’ the Flowers Bloom”
“Why? Why did this man kill my daughter?” asked the parents of Daoyou Feng, one of the women whose life was taken in the March 16 Georgia massacre. Feng was 44 years old and living alone in the United States. Her family learned of her death weeks later, when their near-daily exchange had been radio silent. Feng was a headstrong woman who grew up in a small town in China. She spent many years of her adult life working in factories in China, until she moved to the United States in search of better opportunities.
It is hard to fathom the despair endured by Feng’s family. There is no sense of justice when the explanation of a loved one’s death is: “She was in the wrong place at the wrong time.” Six Asian women were casualties of a racist and sexist massacre at the hands of a white man who declared his intent to “eliminate temptation” for his sex addiction. There is nothing random about this. In fact, this tragedy cracked a national discussion wide open on the long legacy of anti-Asian racism and the hypersexualization of Asian women, all set against the backdrop of intensified U.S. aggression against China.
Many attribute the alarming rise in violence against Asian people to the Trump administration’s racist scapegoating of China during the onset of COVID-19. More than 6,600 anti-Asian hate crimes were reported between March 2020 and March 2021 alone. Women reported 2.3 times more hate incidents than men.
The truth is the Trump Administration merely pulled the trigger on a gun loaded with a near-decade’s worth of military preparation against China, building off almost two hundred years of systematic racist and sexist exploitation and violence against Asians.
The Pivot to Asia, which began under the Obama administration, was designed with the containment of China as the primary task. President Biden now pledges to beat China in the race to “win the 21st century,” signalling no end in sight to the New Cold War on China. Biden even presented major revitalization plans to the public based on aggressive competition with China.
China is deemed the United States’ main competitor and adversary, and the U.S. government is inching dangerously closer toward military confrontation. But wars require popular support. The U.S. government cannot justify the costly resources required without the approval of the people. It is no surprise, then, that the precursor to U.S. aggression on China is the attempt to unite the American people against a supposed mortal enemy: China. This cannot be achieved without fueling racism and hatred against China. We are already seeing the consequences of the U.S.’ xenophobic and bellecose rhetoric as hate crimes against Asian Americans continue unabated.
The “virtuous” gestures of denouncing Asian hate and passing legislation to protect Asian people by Biden and the Democrats, have proven hollow as hate crimes fail to drop. Instead of defending and protecting Asian and Asian American communities with more than lofty sounding words, politicians and the ruling class constitute the very forces fueling the propaganda that translates into hate crimes. If the ruling class actually wanted to reduce violence against Asian people, it would stop demonizing Asian people and nations.
If racism and hatred is used to unite the country to justify war, then a critical component in the solution for anti-Asian racism is to unite the people against the current U.S. war drive that hinges on the demonization of China.
This is not the first time Asians and Asian Americans have been casualties of war. The rising tensions between the United States and other Asian countries has always manifested in racist violence at home. The descendants of 120,000 Japanese internees live with the consequences of the theft of their land, homes, and dignity during WWII. At the height of the U.S.-Japan trade wars of the 1980s, anti-Japanese sentiment led to the violent beating and murder of a young Chinese man named Vincent Chin. U.S. military action is responsible for the deaths of millions in Korea, Vietnam, the Philippines, Japan, and throughout the region, who have suffered the plight of war and occupation.
Asian women domestically and globally have not only been impacted by the violence of imperialist wars, but also by sexist and xenophobic stereotypes: We are methodically dehumanized. We are depicted as both dangerous temptresses and passive, servile objects; both the “moral contagion” and “comfort women”; both The Lotus Flower and the Dragon Lady. These extreme racist stereotypes are meant to obstruct any semblance of humanity for the Asian community so that brutality and violence are excused. Asian women face the highest rate of intimate partner violence — 41% to 61% — when compared to other ethnic groups. For Asian women, racism, sexism and imperialism are inseparable.
As the United States persists in its hostility and hatred towards China, Chinese and Asian women will suffer exceptional consequences. The fight against anti-Asian violence then must be firmly anti-racist, anti-sexist and anti-imperialist.
The tragedy in Georgia kindled a fire that cannot be quelled. A national day of action against anti-Asian violence and China-bashing brought out thousands and thousands of people in sixty cities. Demonstrations were filled with people from all backgrounds, of all nationalities, genders and ages, standing shoulder to shoulder with the Asian community against the alarming rise in racist violence. It is no coincidence that powerful demonstrations followed shortly after the historic 2020 uprisings against racist police murders of unarmed Black people after the horrifying murder of George Floyd by racist cop Derek Chauvin, who was later convicted. This was the people’s verdict, demonstrating that we can move mountains when we unite our struggles.
Asian women and girls are leading the fight to defend our communities. Contrary to the harmful stereotypes inflicted on us, Asian women are standing up in defiance, demanding an end to the system that depends on our violence and suffering for global domination. Any ounce of justice owed to Daoyou Feng, the other women murdered in Georgia, and their families is the uncompromisingly determined fightback against white supremacy, misogyny and imperialism.