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Author Amanda Henderson Responds to the Murders of Asian-American Women in Atlanta

Author Amanda Henderson Responds to the Murders of Asian-American Women in Atlanta

Before you say the murders of eight Asian-American women in Atlanta this week wasn’t racism – it’s about sex addiction … hear this.

Racism is a lens that shapes how we see ourselves and others.

Racism is a system that embeds itself inside every aspect of our lives as it is institutionalized over decades and centuries (through decisions big and small by people who view the world through a lens shaped by racism.)

This is why we see different outcomes in school for white kids and kids of color.

This is why our prisons are disproportionately filled with people of color.

This is why our neighborhoods and schools have become ‘self segregated - as we each make decisions that we deem as good for ourselves and our families- unconscious of why those schools or neighborhoods are good.

This is why a disproportionate number of people of color - who work jobs on the front lines- have died of Coronavirus.

This is why black mothers die during childbirth at rates two to three times higher than white women.

I did not cause racism. You did not cause racism.

Racism has been constructed over 500 years as a means of sorting people into a hierarchy and building systems for free and cheap land and labor.

Racism allowed great shifts in material wealth leaving those who took free land and labor with the resources to keep producing more wealth.

Today, racism is in the air we breathe, the ground we walk on, and the water we drink (literally).

We cannot escape it. But we can learn to see it- and that is the first step- right?

So when the conversation moves from the real rise in anti-Asian hate crimes (which have statistically been on the rise since our former president started using racial epithets to describe the Coronavirus) and people start to dismiss the horrific acts of murder – intentional murder in Asian owned spas – and name the motive as the murderer’s sex addiction, this does not make the crime not racism.

Racism and sexism are intertwined in insidious ways.

The fetishization of Asian women is racism.

Killing people in places of business a young white man deems as tempting, is racism.

Media quickly dismissing the murders because of the women’s race and profession, is racism.

Before moving on from this story, from the lives of the people who were murdered, as we too quickly do… there are more questions we must ask…

What is it about our society that leads to sex addiction? Is there something in our culture of forbidden sex that leads to fetishization and addiction and denies healthy sexual relationships out of shame?

What is it about our society that continually exploits women of color as the location for sexual deviance? Why are women of color more likely to experience sexual violence?

Why do we want to isolate racism to individual explicit acts and refuse to see the deeply embedded ways racism shapes our lives? What are we afraid of in seeing this clearly?

What can we do, in our own lives and communities, to counter racism? What can we do to heal the wounds that continue to fester? What can we do to change the systems that perpetuate these old racist views of each other?

There is a lot we can do. We can start by saying their names. By seeing the people who were killed yesterday as people. Mothers, fathers, sisters, friends, aunties. People, loved, and grieved.

Delaina Ashley Yaun
Paul Andre Michels
Xiaojie Tan
Daoyou Feng
(4 more people whose names have not yet been released)

Rev. Amanda Henderson is the Director of the  Institute for Religion, Politics & Culture at Iliff School of Theology and the author of Holy Chaos: Creating Connections in Divisive Times.


Photo by RODNAE Productions from Pexels

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