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Statement of Solidarity to the AAPI Community

[Content Warning: Anti-Asian Racism, Death, White Supremacy]

On behalf of the staff and board at Housing Matters, we want to extend our deepest condolences to the Asian American community and the loved ones of Soon Chung Park, Hyun Jung Grant, Suncha Kim, Yong Ae Yue, Delaina Ashley Yaun, Paul Andre Michels, Xiaojie Tan, and Daoyou Feng—the victims of the string of shootings at three Atlanta-area spas.

We condemn these and all forms of white supremacy, anti-Asian racism, misogyny, and xenophobia. This racially traumatizing act of violence has had a profoundly harmful impact on the lives of the victims, their families, the Asian American community, and our staff of Asian descent.

As is true across the nation, Asian Americans have historically experienced intense segregation and housing discrimination in Santa Cruz County. Understanding this history is a critical step in moving toward a more equitable future, where housing is accessible to all.

Chinese Gold by Sandy Lydon documents much of the following.

Xenophobic power structures in the 19th Century did everything they could to displace Chinese residents in Santa Cruz. The Santa Cruz Sentinel, for example, published an article in 1879 describing Chinese immigrants as “half-human, half-devil, rat-eating, rag-wearing, law-ignoring, Christian-civilization-hating, opium-smoking, labor-degrading, entrail-sucking Celestials.” [2]

Anti-Chinese sentiments were as rampant here in Santa Cruz as anywhere else in California at the time [6]. While 20,000 Chinese immigrants helped construct the transcontinental railroad in California, most Chinese people did not experience the social and economic growth that resulted from its creation [1, 5]. In Santa Cruz, this unequal economic growth led to rent increases in Chinatown properties. Coupled with landlords who were unwilling to rent to Chinese people, many Chinese immigrants were forced to leave Santa Cruz [7].

Those who did live in Santa Cruz Chinatowns were displaced, excluded, and experienced the impacts of environmental racism. Buildings in Santa Cruz Chinatowns were unsustainable, and many fell into dilapidated conditions. Local industries, for example, dumped raw sewage into the San Lorenzo River, but the 1870s anti-Chinese movement blamed the Chinese people for the rancid odor [8]. Policing, poverty, and illegal activities all contributed to young families leaving to find housing elsewhere [4]. After the Great Earthquake and Fire of 1906, more Chinese residents left Santa Cruz to find an accepting community elsewhere [3]. The 1955 flood destroyed the last Santa Cruz Chinatown, but by then, only a few individuals remained [4].

These events only scratch the surface (e.g., Watsonville Riots, The Chinese Exclusion Act, Yellow Peril, 1877 Workingmen’s Party).

Housing in our community continues to be shaped by history. It is up to us — Santa Cruz County today — to be aware of this history and make strides toward a more equitable future.

As many have pointed out, the shooting in Atlanta occurred during a pandemic replete with anti-Asian and xenophobic rhetoric (e.g., calling COVID-19 the “Wuhan” or “China” virus).

StopAAPIHate.org reported that from March 19, 2020, to February 28, 2021, there have been almost 3,800 hate crimes against the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community. The majority of these attacks occurred in California, and women experienced these attacks 2.5 times more than men. These hate crimes and the shootings in Atlanta are a stark reminder of how race, gender, and class intersect and impact Asian American lives. It is also important to acknowledge that attacks on the Asian community during times of crisis are a structural American practice.

We have linked more information about the victims, videos we recommend to further your education on Anti-Asian racism, and resources compiled by the AAPI community for the AAPI community.

Learn more about the victims:
What We Know About The Victims Of The Atlanta-Area Shootings

Recommended DEI Video:
We Need To Talk About Anti-Asian Hate
Anti-Asian Xenophobia Rises Amid Pandemic

Other Resources:
Anti-Asian Violence Resources

Resources for the AAPI Community:

Stay Safe From Hate
Surviving Racism Amongst COVID-19
Stop AAPI Hate
Asian Mental Health Collective

 

This blog post was authored by Housing Matters’ Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee members in March 2021.

 

Sources include:

[1] Chang, G., 2019. Op-Ed: Remember the Chinese immigrants who built America’s first transcontinental railroad. [online] Los Angeles Times. Available at: https://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-chang-transcontinental-railroad-anniversary-chinese-workers-20190510-story.html#:~:text=Between%201863%20and%201869%2C%20as,wanted%20a%20whites%2Donly%20workforce.

[2] Chang, I., 2003. Opinion | Fear of SARS, Fear of Strangers. [online] Nytimes.com. Available at: https://www.nytimes.com/2003/05/21/opinion/fear-of-sars-fear-of-strangers.html

[3] Dunn, G., 1989. Santa Cruz is in the Heart. 1st ed. Santa Cruz: Capitola Books Co. https://history.santacruzpl.org/omeka/files/original/9ec1941544d2da6ffb31b291a63dd60f.pdf

[4] Dunn, Geoffrey. “Watermarks: The last Chinatown in Santa Cruz was both sustained and destroyed by the San Lorenzo River.” Santa Cruz Magazine, v5n1, p 60-63. 2010-Spring. SCPL Local History. https://history.santacruzpl.org/omeka/items/show/4753

[5] Kennedy, L., n.d. Building the Transcontinental Railroad: How Some 20,000 Chinese Immigrants Made It Happen. [online] HISTORY. Available at: https://www.history.com/news/transcontinental-railroad-chinese-immigrants

[6] Marston, Mary. “The 1965 Immigration Act and the Gaslighting of East Asians.” American University Journal of Gender, Social Policy & the Law, Journal of Gender, Social Policy, and the Law, 16 Nov. 2020, www.jgspl.org/the-1965-immigration-act-and-the-gaslighting-of-east-asians/.

[7] Pfaelzer, Jean. Driven Out: The Forgotten War on Chinese Americans. Random House, 2008.

[8] https://history.santacruzpl.org/omeka/files/original/22965ac9fd3f28c9a796663ca85a0907.pdf