Atlanta Reminds Us: It’s Still January 6

Our nation has just passed through another tragic week, and in the aftermath our communities are again suffering boundless pain. The horrific murders in Atlanta — part of a larger wave of violence directed at Asian-Americans — have again shaken our democracy to its core. The Atlanta attacks weave together strands of misogyny, racism, and easy access to guns, the familiar pattern of unrelenting violence at the hands of a white male perpetrator whose actions are immediately excused and explained away by those in power.

Beyond the horror of this multiple murder, there is a disturbing recurrence of the familiar rhetoric from the defenders of white supremacy. When Members of Congress use a hearing intended to heal this wound to invoke the terror of lynching or belittle concerns about racism as “political correctness,” we know we have not moved past January 6. We are still stuck there.

I attended Chinese Progressive Association’s San Francisco healing circle and rally this past Saturday and the pain and grief was evident, but so was the commitment to fight back against anti-Asian hate. Community leaders who spoke committed to building power, rejecting stereotypes, and working in coalition. Young and old attendees were unified in rejecting the outdated notion that silence keeps us safe, but instead chanted, “We keep us safe!” an inclusive anthem also heard at last summer’s Black Lives Matter marches.

These eruptions of senseless violence are intended to break us. But they will not. Our power grows as we come together to heal and hold accountable the systems that tell us our lives don’t matter. The visit of the President and Vice-President to Atlanta last week was a promising beginning to a needed national process of healing, but it is just that: a beginning. Healing must happen, and the violence must end — now.

For folks looking to support activists on the ground or learn more about ways to help, we would recommend checking out Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Atlanta and Red Canary Song.