March 22, 2021
Since last Tuesday when 8 people, 6 of whom were Asian women, were murdered in a series of shootings near Atlanta, Georgia, media attention has finally turned to a problem that has been silenced for too long. Anti-Asian hate and violence have seen a notable increase since the pandemic began, spurred by unjustly blaming (East) Asian Americans for the virus, but rooted in the centuries-old legacy of anti-Asian racism, including the hyper-sexualization and fetishization of Asian women and femmes.
Among the Asian Americans speaking up during this time, Asian American Jews are sharing their stories of anti-Asian racism so other Asian Jews can navigate this challenging time collectively and so the white Jewish community can become more educated on the ways in which anti-Asian bigotry continues to show up in the Jewish community and beyond. These 6 articles detail the lived experiences of Asian-Jewish identity, the need for solidarity, and a call for change—directly from the voices of fellow Jews.
Rebecca Kuss, a Korean and Jewish children’s book editor, revisits the ways that she and her mom navigated Korean-Jewish identity throughout her life. From overt exclusion such as assuming her mom was the maid trying to pick her up from her JCC preschool to racist slurs and racialized sexual harassment from strangers, Kuss has experienced hatred from others her entire life. Now, she turns to her Jewish community to open their hearts to these struggles as integral to the American Jewish experience.
Bekkah Scharf, a Chinese American organizer with Bend the Arc’s racial justice team, explores the themes of collective solidarity in the face of fear from the Tree of Life shooting in Pittsburgh to anti-Asian violence during the pandemic. She asks the community how to harness the strength of the Passover story to work towards liberation for Asian Americans and all oppressed peoples.
In this open letter, Mira Baum, a self-described Chinese Jewish girl, confronts the racism she experienced on a regular basis in the Jewish community since childhood—experiences she has felt the need to deny or ignore as a condition to her belonging. Providing example after another of microaggressions she has faced, Baum calls on the entire Jewish community to come together to stop the othering of Jews.
Dealing with racism has a distinct reality for parents, whose worries extend to the lives of their children. Melody Muhlrad shares how the Atlanta shootings led her and her husband to consider fleeing the U.S. to protect their children, but ultimately held onto the Jewish principle of tikkun olam as a reason to stay and work towards the change that is needed.
Written at the beginning of March, almost two weeks before the shootings in Atlanta, Gen Slosberg’s article drives to the heart of underlying anti-Asian sentiments, including fetishization of Asian women and femmes, that pervade U.S. society. She demonstrates how this racism shows up in particular ways among the white Jewish community and impacts Asian Jews.
Hanah Bloom, a first-year political science and philosophy student, explains the ways anti-Asian racism and hyper-sexualization of Asian women and femmes is rooted in American imperialism. Bloom calls on the white Jewish community for not only understanding but action to dismantle white supremacy.