Seattle Foundation Statement on Murders in Georgia and Persistent Anti-Asian Hate Crimes and Violence

Seattle Foundation joins millions in condemning anti-Asian hate crimes and violence, and mourning tragic loss of life in Georgia.

Our region and our country have witnessed violent, hateful, and deeply alarming acts against the Asian American community. Here in the Seattle region, where Asian Americans make up roughly 18% of King County’s population, members of our community have been attacked on the street and in public spaces, including recent incidents at a North Seattle church and in the Chinatown-International District where Noriko Nasu, a Japanese American woman, was injured while walking with her partner. Elsewhere in the country – Vicha Ratanapakdee, an elderly Thai man in San Francisco; Noel Quintana, a Filipino man in New York; Xiao Zhen Xie, a woman who defended herself in San Francisco just yesterday – and then earlier this week, Georgians witnessed deadly shootings targeting spas. Eight people were tragically killed, including six women of Asian descent. We are following guidance from Asian Americans Advancing Justice Atlanta and not stating the names of the victims until there is explicit consent from their families. Seattle Foundation joins millions in condemning these atrocities and mourning these hate crimes and tragic loss of life.

Stop Asian American Pacific Islander Hate, a center launched in response to anti-Asian racism, reports nearly 3,800 first-hand accounts of attacks and abuse against Asian Americans in nearly every state across the country between March 2020 and December 2020. We also know this is only a fraction of the total number of crimes, due to underreporting and data incorrectly disaggregated by race. As we saw in Georgia, these attacks are growing in terms of lethality and they must stop. They come after hundreds of years of racist-fueled abuse and crimes that have been dismissed and ignored.

“The heinous and tragic attacks against the Asian American and Pacific Islander communities are deeply disturbing and horrendous. Seeing the news about the murders in Georgia – yet another senseless, racist attack on the Asian American community – after countless others, is infuriating. These anti-Asian hate crimes are woefully ignored and our country’s response has not been sufficient by any means,” shared Tony Mestres, President & CEO of Seattle Foundation.

These attacks are only recent examples, following a long and tragic history of visible examples of anti-Asian hate crimes, fueled by racism, misogyny, and white supremacy. As Darren Walker, President & CEO of the Ford Foundation, shared in a statement on March 17, “Anti-Asian racism is a painful, pernicious American tradition—and yesterday’s murders in Atlanta remind us that this particular strain of racism is not merely part of our history, but a clear and present crisis.”

We recognize the interconnection between racist hatred and overt sexual and gender-based violence, anti-immigrant sentiment, as well as targeting of vulnerable elders. We also recognize and appreciate that the Asian American and Pacific Islander communities are not monolithic and have multiple perspectives and views on community safety. For far too long, the Asian American community has been impacted negatively by the “model minority” myth, diminishing the complex systems of racism facing our country. The “model minority” myth covers up the impact of racism felt by every community and the ways in which the impacts are similar and different. These harmful myths and stereotypes also negatively and dangerously minimize the depth of white supremacy, racism, and anti-Black racism impacting African American and Black communities, Indigenous and Native communities, Latino/a/x communities, and communities of color broadly.

Philanthropy plays a unique and incredibly important role in addressing this scourge. While the data is still being tallied, estimates from Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders in Philanthropy (AAPIP) show that giving remains stuck at less than 1% of national foundation grants going to support Asian American and Pacific Islander communities. Seattle Foundation joins other philanthropic organizations in continuing to increase resources to BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) communities, especially those addressing white supremacy and violence, and movements building cross-racial solidarity.

Recently, Patricia Eng (CEO, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in Philanthropy) and Erik Stegman (Executive Director, Native Americans in Philanthropy), two leaders within the philanthropic sector, published a poignant piece with specific calls to action for the philanthropic community. Included below is a quote from their recent piece in the Chronicle of Philanthropy urging philanthropy to take action against anti-Asian hate crimes:

As the Greater Seattle region’s community foundation, we urge others to join in denouncing these attacks and shifting resources accordingly to ensure this violence stops.

Our call to action is to all of us, as individuals and members of organizations, to eliminate intolerance, as well as physical and verbal attacks on communities. We urge you to join us in learning and investing differently in order to improve our shared future.