Silence Allows Violence
CEO James Morton
THE JUSTICE SERIES BY JAMES MORTON

I follow the lead of a beloved and admired YMCA colleague by saying: “This is a non-political denouncement of violence against any individual or community because of their race and background.” This is also a non-political appeal, as an attack on one of us is an attack on all of us. If we don’t oppose race, gender and religious based violence, we become victims of it. 

Case in point, who amongst us has not been affected by images of racial and gender violence? Who isn’t alarmed by these images? Who does not fear that his, her or their loved ones will become the victims of race and gender violence? These fears are not political or partisan; these fears are real and human; these fears are informed by, for some of us, the racism and/or sexism (or other-ism’s) we’ve experienced – first hand and daily. My colleague is correct: “This is not-political.”

Today, we mourn the death of eight individuals, six of whom were Asian American Pacific Islanders (AAPI) and women, in the Atlanta area. Our hearts go out to our AAPI community and our sisters who must be staggered by this barbaric act of violence. When will it stop?

Yet again, we witness violence against people of color, as AAPI’s across America are being subjected to brutality and death for being of Asian descent. We are left to ask ourselves: Is there a correlation between the derogatory references used to describe COVID-19 and the people of China? I will leave that to your consideration. Suffice it to say, that there seems to be a direct relationship between race baiting and race hating. That’s undeniable. There has also been a significant increase in the incidence of hate crimes against AAPI’s, with more than 3,800 cases reported since the start of the pandemic.

Likewise, there is a reason the virus is officially known as COVID-19, and not “Kung Flu” or “Wuhan Flu” or other equally distasteful and inappropriate references. These references are causing resentment toward AAPI’s and leading to their victimization. They are being scapegoated to distract us from our failure to create and implement a “national” response to COVID-19. In other words, the blame game distracts us from coming to terms with our anemic response to a worldwide pandemic.

The other factor is that this was an overt attack on women. The assailant took the lives of six women. That point was not significantly highlighted in initial news reports. Is that because they were women, or women of color, or both – were their lives less valuable? There was significant emphasis on the fact that they worked in a particular industry, which seemed to suggest that their lives were less important – less valuable. And we are being told the shooting was not about race, as if to suggest that the death of women is OK, especially women relegated, by poverty and racism, to certain jobs. The bottom-line is that six women of color are dead and that’s a tragedy. 

We cannot accept an America where women, especially marginalized women of color, can be victimized without outrage; we must demand an end to the violence against women and folks of color– now! 

Again, we mourn.

James Morton, Esquire
President/CEO
YMCA of Greater Boston