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LACMA Health Equity Council Statement on the GA Killings and Ongoing Violence Against the AAPI Community

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“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”

– Letter from Dr. Martin Lurther King Jr. in a Birmingham Jail, April 16, 1963.

The below statement is written by LACMA leaders Dr. Resa Caivano, Dr. William King, Dr. Diana Shiba, Dr. Jeffery Lee and Dr. Hector Flores.

As we grieve the events of the past week, many thoughts and emotions come back to the surface—anger, frustration, disappointment, fear, disbelief, and unfortunately, lack of surprise.  The shocking crime in Atlanta makes us realize that our emotions and thoughts are not isolated reactions. They are becoming frequent- they are becoming a common reaction.  We are slowly recognizing that this trauma we are experiencing is not a new and situational phenomenon. The recent light shone on the racism, violence and prejudice put on Black bodies has now spotlighted the racism, violence and prejudice put on our Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI)  family and friends.  The abhorrent rhetoric of our last administration equating COVID-19 with China has been heavily correlated with the rise of over 3800 AAPI reported hate crimes. Again, this is unfortunately not new. Past harmful rhetoric and xenophobia resulted in federal legislation impacting AAPI civil rights and freedom as evidenced by the Chinese Exclusion Act and the internment of Japanese Americans into camps during World War II. Current harmful rhetoric and xenophobia have birthed incidents of daylight assault and battery on elderly AAPI citizens. Last week, we witnessed the brutal racially motivated murders of 6 AAPI women in Atlanta by someone, who the police spokesperson stated was “having a really bad day”.

This can no longer continue unanswered or unrecognized by the medical community. Gun violence is in our lane and is a public health issue. Racism,  hate crimes, microaggressions impact our health status and should also be recognized as a public health issue. As we strive to keep our patients healthy,  we are reminded to deeply recognize the links between history and the present, and the connections between racism, safety, health equity, and social justice in our communities, and our own workplaces.  We stand in solidarity with the AAPI community, and yet that is not enough. It is not enough to condemn the continued acts of violence that have escalated due to xenophobic, racist, sexist rhetoric.  It is not enough to treat the symptoms and sequelae of the intergenerational and repetitive trauma our Asian patients and other patients of color bear. We must act.  We must create an America that is worthy of all the richness of the people who live within its borders. We must speak out in the face of these injustices and support one another.  When one member of our community is hurting, we are all hurting. Racism and hate crimes harm us all.

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