The Alliance for the Study of Adoption and Culture sends love and support to the victims of recent violence in Atlanta that left eight people, including six Asian women, dead, as well as to their families, friends, and loved ones. ASAC strongly condemns not only these acts but also the pervasive systemic discimination targeting Asian, Asian American, and Pacific Islander people that often remains unacknowledged. We also acknowledge the pain, anger, and fear that this racial, gendered, sexualized, and classed violence has caused for the larger Asian and Asian American communities. Over the past year, we have seen an increase in acts of discrimination and violence against Asians, Asian Americans, and Pacific Islanders. The U.S.-based Stop AAPI Hate reports nearly 3,800 documented incidents have been submitted to their website since the COVID-19 pandemic began, representing only a fraction of incidents that have occurred. These hate crimes—and recent murders—must not be decontextualized,  but should be understood as a result of historic and contemporary state-sanctioned anti-Asian racism, proffered most recently and notably by former President Trump and his continual racist and xenophobic blaming of the pandemic on China. And yet anti-Asian racism is not solely an American phenomenon and has reared its ugliness in many countries around the world.

These murders that targeted working-class Asian womxn also reflect racialized misogyny and whorephobia that indelibly shape the experiences of Asian and Asian American womxn. This particular form of violence originated in the nation’s earliest immigration laws, notably the 1875 Page Law, which targeted Asian women for exclusion due to the racialized and gendered moralization and criminalization of sex work. Even as other anti-Asian immigration laws followed over the course of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, the Page Law coupled with Orientalist notions of Asian womanhood helped cement misrepresentations of Asian womxn as deviant, hypersexual, and submissive. U.S. militarism during the Korean and Vietnam Wars alongside fictional portrayals of Asian women by the media (e.g., The World of Suzie Wong, Full Metal Jacket, Miss Saigon, Mulan) reinforce these racist, sexist depictions of women of Asian descent. This objectification of Asian womxn is a contributing factor to their dehumanization.

We also recognize how these events are being felt and experienced by transracial Asian adoptees, especially Asian womxn-identified adoptees. Many, who have white adoptive families, have questioned why their family members have not checked in on them in the aftermath of this violence. Harmful ideology that attempts to ignore the realities of race in the context of adoption as an institutionalized practice contributes to the erasure of how racial and sexualized discourse and violence affect Asian adoptees. While their proximity to whiteness can afford some privilege for transracial Asian adoptees, it does not mitigate the dehumanizing anti-Asian hate or racialized and sexualized violence that they experience. Nor does it erase the ways adoptive parents and family members deploy dehumanizing tropes (e.g., dumplings, wontons, China Doll) and rhetoric to describe their Asian adopted family members or the assumptions about adoptees’ relationships with white men in their families and their sexual availability to men outside of their families due to racist fantasies about Asian women. It does not erase the sexual, physical, emotional, or material violence that also may occur within adoptive families. The silence and inaction on the part of many adoptive parents and families erases and invalidates Asian adoptee experiences. This can be born from the belief that Asian adoptees are “not even considered Asian.” At the same time, transnational and/or transracial adoptees, broadly speaking, often grapple with the ways that members of their adoptive white families may support systems of white supremacist violence against communities of color and Indigenous communities.

The Alliance for the Study of Adoption and Culture focuses on families, and we wish in particular to notice the way in which these murders, and racial and gendered violence more broadly, destroys families and kinship networks. American history is full of institutions that bring harm to families, including slavery, anti-Asian immigration legislation, settler colonialism, anti-Black violence, Japanese American internment, separation of children and parents at the U.S.-Mexico border, and other policies and forms of violence dating back to the country’s inception. The death of one person affects children and parents, and ripples out to kin of all kinds, both in the U.S and beyond. We acknowledge not just the harm done to the murdered women, but to their families, and to our own. We are disturbed by and condemn the response of various local governments to increase police presence in Asian communities, which in turn reinforces efforts to increase policing in communities of color, Indigenous communities, and immigrant communities. We recognize the role of policing and other forms of state security in separating children of color, Indigenous children, and immigrant children from their families throughout U.S. history.

This means movement to #StopAsianHate is inextricably tied to larger movements to end white supremacist, heteropatriarchal, and ableist ideologies and structures. It requires the continued support of Black liberation, decolonization, and abolition futures. We must acknowledge all of the variegated and intersecting forms of violence in order to reject and dismantle them.

The Executive Committee for the Alliance for the Study of Adoption and Culture

Additional Resources

Association for Asian Studies Statement

The Circle for Asian American Literary Studies Statement:

Human Rights Campaign Statement

National Women’s Studies Association Statement

Stop AAPI Hate

AAPI Emergency Response Network

Asian Americans Advancing Justice—Atlanta

Anti-Asian Violence Resources

Black and Asian American Feminist Solidarities: A Reading List

Asian American Feminist Collective

Hollaback! Bystander Intervention Training

ASAC Statement on Police Killings and Protests

The Alliance for the Study of Adoption and Culture Executive Committee (ASAC EC) expresses its grief and outrage over the recent killings of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, David McAtee, Tony McDade, and George Floyd by police officers and vigilantes. ASAC also grieves the killings of Black, Brown, and Indigenous people by police in not only what is presently recognized as ‘the United States of America’ but also globally. We mourn the deaths and are in solidarity with the current nationwide and global protests against the continued police violence and murders as well as the modern-day extralegal lynching by civilians of Black Americans.The heinous murders of these individuals are rooted in white supremacist thought and practice that are not only located in the extremes of society but in the institutions that are core to America’s foundation and function. They have been made possible by the enduring legacies of slavery, Jim Crow segregation, the prison industrial complex, and other forms of structural oppression.

We call on scholars who study adoption and the larger adoption community, especially adoption agencies as well as white adoptive parents who raise Black children, to take stock in the political moment that necessitates change of thought and action. We also understand that anger, hurt, and fear expressed by protestors are also caused by less lethal but nevertheless harmful interactions by people of all political leanings such as Amy Cooper, a white liberal woman who called the police on Christian Cooper. Adoption discourse and practice based on postracial ideologies such as All Lives Matter, which ignores and perpetuates anti-Blackness, persist in the adoption community.

Many of us who are transracially adopted viscerally understand the negative repercussions and power dynamics involved in being accepted only under certain pretexts and with our fragile proximity to whiteness. ASAC EC refuses to participate in the calls for civility, the respectability politics, or the riot shaming that are circulated by critics and the media and are based in white supremacist logics. Being “civil” will not guarantee change, and history has proven this. Instead, we must collectively address the actual problems of white supremacy and anti-Blackness.

ASAC EC unequivocally believes that Black Lives Matter. As President Trump threatens further state-sanctioned violence against U.S. protestors, and as white resentment against people protesting Black oppression grows, we believe that the Black Lives Matter Movement is more relevant and urgent now than ever for the adoption community. We must listen to the BLM Movement and be a part of the conditions that enable anti-Blackness to be challenged and dismantled.

The Alliance for the Study of Adoption and Culture officially formed, through a constitution established in 1998, under the name The Alliance for the Study of Adoption, Identity, and Kinship.  ASAC promotes understanding of the experience, institution, and cultural representation of domestic and transnational adoption and related practices such as fostering, assisted reproduction, LGBTQ+ families, and innovative kinship formations.  ASAC considers adoptive kinship to include adoptees, first families, and adoptive kin.  In its conferences, other gatherings, and publications ASAC provides a forum for discussion and knowledge creation about adoption and related topics through interdisciplinary culture-based scholarly study and creative practice that consider many ways of perceiving, interpreting, and understanding adoption.
ASAC has arranged biennial international conferences starting in 2005 and publishes the journal Adoption & Culture.  It published a newsletter from 1999 to 2014. Join our email list and follow us on Facebook and Twitter for current news and important updates.