This September marked the 21st anniversary of 9/11. For AMEMSA communities, the post-9/11 era has defined much of their lives because of the expansion of the national security state, the global War on Terror, increased militarization of local police forces and White supremacist forces, and the criminalization of civil liberties. Over two decades after 9/11, we are currently facing a rise of violence against Asians that have echoes of similar state and interpersonal violence. To share lessons that pan-Asian communities should be made aware of to build stronger fighting forces to combat hate violence, GAR hosted Lessons Learned Post-9/11: Combating Violence Against Asians, a peer exchange of over 50 participants, staff, members, and allies.
Desis Rising Up and Moving (DRUM) was organizing on the ground in NYC immediately after 9/11. DRUM shared how they had to be vigilant in understanding that almost all expansions of state policing and surveillance was done in the name of “protecting” our communities, or for the “common good.” DRUM organized directly-impacted Muslim and South Asian communities to prevent self-interests from being used against each other to break solidarity. DRUM effectively held the orientation and built community bases with collective interests.
Muslims for Just Futures stressed the pitfalls of failing to connect the role of our government and state violence in perpetuating hate violence. This disconnect happened post-9/11 and is happening currently with efforts to #StopAsianHate. Without understanding that state violence is at the root of why our communities are experiencing harm, our work can easily get co-opted by our opponents to expand violence even more.
Arab Resource and Organizing Center (AROC) expanded on this connection, emphasizing that the attacks on working-class Muslims and Arabs are part of a much longer history of US-led wars on Black, Brown, and Indigenous people domestically and internationally. The US has long collaborated with repressive regimes, mainly the apartheid state of Israel, to share tactics, weaponry, and technologies in the violence against our communities.
Although not an organization that organized AMEMSA communities nor existed immediately post-9/11, Red Canary Song stressed the necessity of solidarity within working-class, pan-Asian communities to protect and empower our bases that are at the most precarious of margins, including sex workers and trafficking survivors. In the aftermath of 9/11, anti-trafficking laws became severely enforced to “protect.” In actuality, these laws surveil and criminalize migrant women of color.
Conversations within the working-class, pan-Asian movement are crucial in order to build solidarities that exemplify community alternatives to stop the expansion of policing and surveillance. As DRUM shared, “ there are no shortcuts to the basics of organizing.” These solidarities between organized bases take intentional efforts from grassroots organizations to bring impacted folks in, build up their leadership, engage them in local, regional, and national fights, and share political education about the work we must do to build a better future for all.