Guest Contribution from Our HMoob American College Paj Ntaub research team
Last week, in Atlanta, Georgia eight people, including six women of Asian descent, were killed by a 21-year-old white man who reported he acted out this brutality because he was having a “bad day” and wanted to “eliminate” the “temptation” he saw these women to be.
As horrifying and shocking as these killing are, they present another example of a mass shooting committed in the United States by a white man with access to guns in the name of some sort of perceived grievance. In this case, the perpetrator’s perceived grievance was the bodies of the Asian female “temptations” he callously dehumanized and blamed for his reported “sex addiction.” This idea of the Asian woman as a “temptation” is part of a larger sexualized racist narrative that fetishized and hypersexualized Asian American women who are also subject to the same increased anti-Asian violence experienced by all Asian Americans throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. This racialization of the Asian women emerged through U.S. militarism all throughout Asia, which now markets and traffics the bodies of Asian women, femme people, and children.
We of the Our HMoob American College Paj Ntaub research team denounce these disgusting acts of hate, racism, and misogyny and we join our HMoob women-led student activist partner, the UW-Madison HMoob American Studies Committee (HMASC), in the call to action to stop anti-Asian violence.
In the past three years researching the experiences of HMoob American students on the UW-Madison campus, our research team has found HMoob students face significant inequalities in higher education which reflect the larger inequalities in our society. Namely, we have found HMoob college students experience institutional invisibility caused by a general lack of knowledge about Hmong people, history, and culture; academic sorting mechanisms that steer HMoob students towards or away certain academic programs; and structural and interpersonal racism such as anti-Asian racism, financial insecurity, and social instability that have been further exacerbated by the pandemic. In response to these findings, our team has consistently advocated for policies and practices to better serve HMoob students and other historically marginalized groups; namely our research team has demonstrated the necessity of critical ethnic studies in higher education and recommended increased prioritization of and investment in ethnic studies programming. Supporting such programming is vital to cultivating the critical consciousness necessary to fight the racist, sexist, and exploitive systems the produce the sort of violence seen last week.
We join HMASC in “condemning anti-Asian racism, and specifically, the white supremacist patriarchal violence that poor Asian women experience…[we] recognize that this violence is a part of a history of western militarization and colonialism that shapes the Asian body, wherein (poor) women, LGBTQ+ people, children and the elderly are often the first sites of brutalizing violence and disposability. We hold our most impacted in our hearts and invite you to join us as we continue to try to heal and organize.” Please read the full HMASC statement here.