We have gone back and forth in this statement. We want to commemorate this day, but remain humble in all that we don’t know or understand. We want to grieve and memorialize the victims of the March 16 Atlanta Spa shootings.
On this day we are first reminded that death is the destiny of everyone. We take this to heart. Right now, we pause to honor their lives as a blessing always. We must never take it for granted.
We are also reminded that there are forces of hate, white supremacy, and oppression at play in this world. We feel the weight of the sadness and anger toward how one white man had a “bad day” and massacred members of our community.
We remember our anger in response to media narratives that tried to offer justification for his actions, proclaiming mental illness. We remember the rage we felt when we heard that in Asian women the shooter saw “temptation” that he wanted to eliminate, reducing our humanity to sexual fetishes. We feel the horror of seeing news story after news story of Asians assaulted and killed, senselessly, months after the Atlanta shooting. We feel disappointment for the emergence of anti-Black sentiments in our communities and for the misguided calls to increase policing that would endanger Black and Brown families as a solution to violence. We feel anger at the criminalization and exploitation of sex workers, and the targeting of Asian spas and businesses by police authorities in Michigan under the false pretense of public safety.
We cry with deep heaves, gasping for air, like breath that we can’t catch up to, and we understand that breath is never to be taken for granted.
We know deep in our hearts that there is violence, sorrow and fear in this world, and we lean into today with you. Let’s feel it all deeply, for though we experience this collective grief we also know that there is still goodness and light within us. There is a mismatch between the world we have been yearning for and the world we live in, and our consciences are awakened to the possibility of a life and world that is better than the one we have inherited.
In pursuit of that vision, we recommit ourselves to our mission to develop and organize the Asian American women of Michigan who will lead the charge to create the better world we imagine. We will call for structural change, more inclusive education, voter access, economic justice, the abolition of policing and incarceration. We will push back against the violence of white supremacy, patriarchy and imperialism. From under the shadow of this day we will emerge, and our struggle and victories will be our commemoration to the lives lost one year ago.
But today–this day–is not about us. Today is about the women and men killed in Atlanta and the fullness of their lives that went unrealized. The goodness, light, love, and beauty in them that was cut off from the world and from which they were cut off from experiencing.
Today is about them.
Tomorrow is about us; it’s about you, our community and the world we will build together.
May today remind us to take nothing for granted, to realize that breath and life is a blessing, and to always try to find and fight for the goodness, light, love, and beauty in us and our community so that such tears may never be shed again.