Civic Life conveys our sympathy for the lives lost on March 16 as a gunman shot eight people in the metropolitan area of Atlanta and we express our solidarity with everyone speaking out against the violence and racism inflicted against Asian and Pacific Islander communities. As we look for ways to move forward, we want share perspectives, resources, opportunities to learn, and engage. The following words are from Civic Life's Director Suk Rhee:
Too many of us have experienced acts of racially-motivated violence and hate, and we carry the scars on our bodies, spirit, histories and lives.
The weapons are often guns, fists, and the full weight of bodies on our necks. Just as often, the weapons are words, stories, images, economic exploitation, theft of culture, suspicion, false allegations, surveillance, presumption of guilt, and being prevented from participating in our own defense. These occur alongside and as a prelude to physical violence.
In joining others in speaking out against the surge in anti-Asian violence, I reflected on the roles that government has played in aiding and abetting racial violence in our country’s history, and the similarities with media as platforms that provide the means for and amplification of hate in the public space.
The role of media in perpetuating additional harms in the reporting of the Atlanta shootings is not new. Journalists of color have raised important issues about white-dominated newsrooms, and the accountability we expect from publicly funded institutions, including public media. Having our dignity and lives portrayed by media in ways that amplify biases is a form of violence, and one that foments further violence.
A free press is foundational to democracy. Race-informed journalism and intersectional analysis is not just for reporting acts of hate, it is a basis for covering the environment, transportation, housing, civic engagement…that is, for everything. “Covering race is not niche journalism. It’s journalism.”
Sometimes we get to tell our own stories. Most times, others take that liberty. We demand that stories about us be told as if our lives depend on it, because they do.
Culturally informed resources are critical for surviving and combating the daily and extraordinary harms of racism, white supremacy, misogyny and xenophobia. This community letter speaks out on the Atlanta shootings and includes a list of resources for social support and opportunities to learn and engage. Among the calls to action and messages of solidary, you will find the City of Portland’s letter against motivated hate, bias and racism.