Columbus Dispatch, March 28, 2021
Excerpt from an op-ed by OPAWL Leadership Council member Bhumika Patel:
“The recent shootings in Atlanta and the meaningless loss of life the community has suffered leaves me heartbroken.
I find even greater sorrow in how deeply interwoven sexism, racism and xenophobia are for those most directly impacted and for the Asian American community at large.
As an Asian woman born in India, raised in Georgia and who has lived in Ohio since 2012, I’ve also been impacted by these systems of oppression. I’ve experienced fetishization by those who want to date me, been made to feel invisible by those around me, and been othered by those who think that I don’t belong here.
Asians, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs) have long experienced racism throughout U.S. history; from the racist “yellow peril” ideology that targeted Chinese and Asian immigrants as an existential threat in the late 1800s, to the incarceration of 120,000 Japanese Americans during WW II, to the anti-Muslim bigotry and violence still impacting South Asian and Arab Americans today.
Over a year ago, OPAWL, along with 149 other organizations and 1,200 Ohioans, publicly requested local and state governing officials to take specific steps to address anti-Asian racism during the pandemic. Since then, anti-Asian harassment and violence is up 150%, lives have been lost, and little has been done to protect and support the AAPI community. We have a right to go about our daily lives – shop for groceries, go to work, walk around our neighborhoods – and feel safe.
Right now, we are afraid. If we want to prevent what happened in Georgia from happening here, we must first acknowledge that the root causes of the violence which took place in Atlanta are just as present here in Columbus. How can we begin to dismantle these systems of oppression? We need action, not just empty words.