Here in Jamaica Plain 7.9 percent of our neighbors are Asian Americans and while they make up a small minority of our overall population they contribute greatly to the fabric of the community as business owners, parents, students, and activists.
The recent trend of violence against Asian Americans has been shocking and the shooting in Atlanta that killed six Asain Americans at three spas last week has shaken us all to our core.
City Councilor Michelle Wu, who is vying to become Boston’s first Asian American Mayor of Boston, responded to the recent uptick in violence towards the Asian American community across the US as well as the Atlanta shooting.
“I join our Asian American community in mourning and solidarity following the senseless shootings in the Atlanta area,” said Wu in a statement. “It’s heartbreaking and appalling to see the anti-Asian harassment, violence, and now mass murder that has accelerated over the past year — part of a long history of racism in America that we all must fight to end. And all too often, the most silenced members of our community — Asian American elders and women working in invisible industries — have borne the brunt of these attacks.”
Wu said the unconscionable blaming of Asian American communities for the devastation from the COVID-19 pandemic has reinforced the sense of invisibility and perpetual foreigner status that so many have known their entire lives.
“Growing up as the daughter of immigrants from Taiwan, some of my most vivid childhood memories involve racist encounters with strangers,” she continued. “People who knew nothing about me except for my appearance feeling empowered to pull eyes into slits or chant chingchong sounds. That constant feeling of needing to be aware, ready, on guard whenever out in public. Since before COVID-19 was spreading in the United States, Asian American communities have been on edge, reeling from the impacts.”
Wu said Boston has not been immune to these incidents and in every city across the country, we must build community to protect and celebrate intersectional identities.
“We will stop Asian hate and combat racism by meeting this moment, by building a city for everyone, by transforming our systems to see and value every life,” she said.
Wu also encouraged residents to support the Asian Community Emergency Relief Fund.
“Today, we’re asking for you to make a donation to support the Greater Boston area’s Asian Community Emergency Relief Fund to help provide direct financial support to Asian and Asian American Boston residents who are having trouble meeting their basic needs,” said Wu. “If you can, please chip in to the Asian Community Emergency Relief Fund. Your donation will go towards providing aid to those in our city’s Asian American community who need it most.”
Asian Americans account for 6 percent of all the COVID 19 cases and 8 percent of all the deaths in Boston. While countless communities are severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Asian American community in Greater Boston is being hit harder than most. Many are immigrants who work in food, hospitality, home care, and child care sectors that have been closed. Consequently, these workers have lost their incomes. Because of language barriers and immigration status, not everyone can access public benefits like unemployment and the new stimulus dollars. These families are in jeopardy of not having enough money to buy basic necessities and pay for housing.
So far the fund has raised and distributed over $350,000 and helped 327 families, totaling 946 individuals and 55.5 percent of the fund went to families with undocumented members, and the remaining fund helped families that were ineligible for other public benefits because of their immigrant status.