Over the past few years, Asian people have repeatedly been violently targeted by white men (primarily) due to sinophobic rhetoric from politicians on both sides, media members (looking directly at the NY Times and Washington Post), and other pop-culture leaders since the beginning of the pandemic. Although America has always opposed China because of “scary anti-Capitalism” and sinophobia, the language used to describe and directed toward Asian people and specifically poor or working class women and sex workers has been horrific to see in relation to what most would call a hate crime.
One year ago in Atlanta, six Asian women massage laborers (who could have been sex workers) were murdered by a white man who claimed he was addicted to sex. Since that act of violence, people (mostly Asians unaffected by the brutality) have been calling for more hate crime legislation to “protect” their loved ones from dangerous white people through the “power of the law.” However, hate crime or terrorism legislation won’t actually keep Asians safe, but will instead increase the policing and prosecution of poor Black and Brown people. The widespread anti-China, sinophobic propaganda from American media and politicians directly contributes to the violence Asians are suffering through every day because white people are convinced China is the “big bad” come to collect capitalism and inflict medical suffering on others through COVID. And after these people committing harm digest their inaccurate villainous stories, they take revenge on Asian people existing in America, which liberals want to label “the hate crime.”
Referring to violence toward one group of people won’t end because it’s suddenly “illegal” to beat up an Asian grandma or shoot multiple Asian women workers. America is a country built on what could be known as “hate crimes” and yet they continue terrorizing the world at every chance they get. A fake violent state like America can’t legitimize terrorism when it violates and brutalizes people in all the other countries. A twitter user named Ruby Beth (@ruby_beth) described it perfectly when she said “We need nuanced ways to talk about racialized violence beyond ‘hate crimes.’ A hate crime is a prosecutorial strategy for incarceration, not a reckoning with racism. Of course violence is racialized. That is America.” If we start calling any act of terror against an Asian person a “hate crime,” what we’re asking for is the increased policing of sex workers (and massage workers), poor Black and Brown people anytime HPD gets a whiff of non legalized activity. Democrats fighting for hate crime legislation don’t know and/or care that this new “help” they’re offering will lead to requests for greater policing budgets and eventually more jails. Laws are always used to criminalize the most marginalized people and when more cops are around sex workers to “keep them safe from violence (even though they are the violent ones),” that means more sex workers will be sent to jail. Hate crimes and terrorism are fake labels that only seek to criminalize and hurt Black and Brown people while white people are free to do as they please.
Even though the violence toward Asian people and women sex workers in particular hasn’t gone away, we need to build relationships within our communities to keep each other safe instead of relying on harmful hate crime legislation that will throw more cops in our neighborhoods and community members in prison. Please check out Red Canary Song for more information if you’re interested in real ways to stand in solidarity with Asian sex workers and other Asian at-risk groups.