Updated: Apr 19, 2021
Last May, nearly a year ago, we watched a tragedy in America. It wasn’t a new tragedy -- state sanctioned murder and violence against Black people is rooted in and entangled throughout our US history. We can speculate on why so many stayed silent, looked the other way but what we do know is that in June 2020, a collective awakening in this country happened. And this time, it was not just protestors hitting the streets who were speaking up and out demanding for change, equality and fair treatment of the Black community. We saw people at every level publicly ask what we were going to do and making commitments to do better. And here at Colorful Connections, we’ve been excited to help businesses create plans to ensure that they are a part of the solution to end inequality and create long-lasting systemic change.
Since last summer, we’ve seen a lot of much needed focus on Black Lives Matter and we champion that work. Our approach to diversity, equity and inclusion work, however, has always been intersectional. When we say diversity, equity and inclusion, we don’t say that solely for the Black community – we say it for all communities who have been historically oppressed and underrepresented.
And this is why we must address the most recent tragedy that has gotten the nation’s attention. On Tuesday, March 16, eight people, six of which were Asian American women, were murdered in Atlanta. While authorities and media have not labeled this as a hate crime, we cannot deny that racism and misogyny were at play here. And we also can’t deny that this violence against the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community doesn’t have a long and horrid history much like the violence against African Americans. This violent history started as early as the 1850s when the first East Asian immigrants arrived. During this time, according to an article from Today,“300 Chinese settlements were displaced,” and there were “many, many recorded lynchings and killings, but obviously not on the same scale as Native Americans and African Americans.” On Tuesday, the very same day of the mass shooting in Atlanta, the Stop AAPI Hate Coalition had come out with a National Report which stated they had received 3,795 reports of anti-Asian hate incidents from individuals from all 50 states and DC, all of which happened between March 2020 – February 2021. All horrific reminders of how much work we must do to unravel racism from the fabric of our society.
And while we must be aware and be able to sit with this uncomfortable history of violent racism, we are writing about this topic today because of another glaring statistic from the Stop AAPI Hate National Report: The primary site of discrimination happens at businesses at 35.4%. If it’s happening at businesses, even if it’s not you or your direct team members who are causing harm, your place of work still may be a place where discrimination happens. This is just as true for businesses owned by Asian Americans, where there have been increased reports of those businesses and employees facing discrimination and attacks. So again, businesses must ask themselves what are we going to do? Back in June, we wrote an article to urge companies to stop with the band-aid solutions and make the long-term commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion. In light of the uptick in violence to our Asian American community just this year, we are urging you to recommit.
If we want to see change in the world, we have to start in the spaces we occupy, our personal circles and our professional networks, at home and work. It starts with awareness. It starts with you wanting to make change. It begins when you’re ready to start making steps, knowing the journey will be long, uncomfortable and there will be no short-cuts. Maybe you have already gotten started but you’ve gotten stuck along the way. Wherever you are at, you don’t have to do this work alone. And whether you’re at the starting line, need some more encouragement to keep going or just need new boost of energy, we’re here to help.
Written by Katie Avila Loughmiller