WASHINGTON, D.C. – The nation has witnessed another horrific act of gun violence that was senseless and apparently driven by hate. This time the horror near Atlanta was visited upon eight people ―six of whom were Asian American women.
Given the unmitigated crisis of pandemic-related violence and harassment against the Asian American community linked to rhetoric blaming Asian people for the coronavirus and despite the alleged shooter blaming his action on a sex addiction, we are left with no other choice but to believe that all eight of those slaughtered were directly or indirectly victims of race-driven hatred. Since the beginning of the pandemic, there has been a 150 percent increase in violence and harassment against Asian Americans, with women reporting incidents at twice the rate of men. There were nearly 3,800 incidents between March 2020 and February 2021.
The National Association of Social Workers (NASW) again forcefully calls for the nation to raise our collective voices and commit to ending hate, racism, and gun violence. This latest act of mass murder reinforces something we have always known about our country: identity-based violence is an undeniable threat that many members of communities of color face daily.
NASW unequivocally stands with the families and friends of the victims in this tragedy and offers our condolences and support. We also stand with the Asian American community as they come to grips with anti-Asian hate. We urge all people to stand against the systemic racism and gun violence that has plagued our society since its inception.
NASW will also work to get Congress to pass the NO HATE Act to prevent hate crimes, improve data reporting, and expand community-centered responses to better support those communities affected by hate crimes. Nationally, organizationally, and individually, we must dedicate ourselves to the pursuit of racial justice with the aim of finally and permanently eliminating hatred and racism, hate speech and acts of violence, especially gun violence.
Perhaps Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said it best, “Whatever the motivation was for this guy, we know that the majority of the victims were Asian. We also know that this is an issue that is happening across the country. It is unacceptable, it is hateful, and it has to stop.”
The National Association of Social Workers (NASW), in Washington, DC, is the largest membership organization of professional social workers. It promotes, develops, and protects the practice of social work and social workers. NASW also seeks to enhance the well-being of individuals, families, and communities through its advocacy.