Statement of Solidarity from the Asian American Leaders Table on 9/11

September 10, 2021

As a network of local and national Asian American organizations that convened in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have been working together to address the rise in anti-Asian violence. Together, our collective voice has been louder and stronger in uplifting the shared strength of our communities and speaking out against racism and violence.

It is in that spirit that we offer reflections and commitments upon the 20th anniversary of September 11th and its aftermath. 9/11 lives in our memories as a day of unspeakable loss and pain. In the days, weeks and years that followed 9/11, we witnessed an unprecedented rise in hate violence, bullying, profiling and workplace discrimination targeting members of South Asian, Arab, Muslim and Sikh communities. In addition, government policies instituted in the US and abroad as part of the War on Terror led to war and torture, surveillance and profiling, and detentions and deportations. In response, South Asian, Arab, Muslim and Sikh organizations and advocates organized, resisted, and strengthened the power of grassroots movements.

To mark the 20th anniversary of 9/11, the Asian American Leaders Table invited our colleagues in the Asian American and racial justice movements to remember and reflect on the past 20 years. We asked ourselves: How did the tragedy affect me, us, and our community? What are we still grappling with as communities of faith and communities of color? How do we use our collective power and resources to build a truly inclusive nation?

Here are some reflections that Arab, Muslim and South Asian leaders offered:

“This narrative to fear and suspect Muslim and Middle Eastern communities has created this culture of scarcity that makes us think 'well at least it isn't us,' rather than a culture of abundance that assumes there is enough freedom, enough humanity for all of us.”

“I'd like us to stop apologizing for 9/11. We were never supposed to have been apologizing to begin with. Stop forcing us to explain things we had nothing to do with.”

“We cannot continue to center our solutions around law enforcement. This doesn't mean there's no accountability when a hate crime is committed, but that as we seek whatever the currently available means for justice that do exist in our flawed system, that we also invest in creating the alternative.”

“Let’s start conversations, call each other in, and avoid engaging in the tactics used to divide us. Let’s have compassion as we work for accountability. Let’s listen more, empathize and work to build community and alliances across movements.”

“What we've become much more aware of in the last 20 years is an understanding of a history of state violence targeting immigrant communities of color in the US. We're talking about immigration bans, surveillance, forced removals, mass roundups, detentions and deportations. We need to be prepared now, because there will be a racial backlash against Afghans here and we have to stand against that in solidarity and to protect the refugees arriving on our shores.”

“I'm hopeful that we will be able to continue to grow our communities’ power and do it in an intersectional, multigenerational way. The young people we’re working with now know nothing of the pre-9/11 experience. This is their reality, and that's their future.”

On this 20th anniversary of 9/11, the Asian American Leaders Table recommits ourselves and our organizations to building deep and meaningful solidarity with South Asian, Arab, Muslim and Sikh communities. We condemn the misguided policies and climate that have targeted and harmed communities on the basis of their faith, race, national origin, and additional identities.

As we reflect on our collective movement for freedom and justice, we also acknowledge that Asian Americans can do much more to advocate for the rights of South Asians, Muslim, Sikh and Arab Americans. This means that we pay close attention to our own rhetoric and messages to avoid falling into stereotypical language or national security justifications. It means that we do not compromise on the rights of Muslim, Arab, South Asian and Sikh communities in advocating for public policies. It means incorporating the histories and perspectives of communities targeted in the wake of 9/11 within Asian American movement curricula and political education. It means recognizing that we are working against a shared source of oppression, and finding the commonalities and connections between the Islamophobia that profiled Muslims in the aftermath of 9/11 to the xenophobia that incarcerated Japanese Americans during World War II to the racism that’s driving the rise in anti-Asian violence during the COVID-19 pandemic.

We commit to learning from programs that are anchored in transformative solidarity such as Bridging Communities where the Japanese American Citizens League and Nikkei for Civil Rights and Redress (and later involved the Council on American-Islamic Relations) brought together Muslim and Japanese American youth to visit Manzanar, building connnections from a shared history of being treated as outsiders in their own homes.

We also look to Vigilant Love as another way to move forward. Created in a time of rapid response following the 2015 shooting in San Bernardino, this Los Angeles-based group of Muslim and Japanese American leaders are challenging Islamophobia through direct action, political education, and arts performances.

We look to the solidarity between the children of incarcerated Japanese Americans who stood side by side with Muslims and Africans affected by the Trump Administration’s Muslim and African bans.

Our work will continue beyond the 20th anniversary of 9/11. Today, we are witnessing another consequence of the War on Terror with the US withdrawal from Afghanistan. Our communities add our voices to the call for welcoming Afghan refugees to the United States.

As Asian Americans, it is our responsibility to step up and speak out. Solidarity in a post-9/11 America asks us to acknowledge the pain and injustice inflicted on Arab, Muslim, Sikh and South Asian communities; to stand together as Asian Americans, engaged in a steadfast practice of building relationships beyond our identity groups; and to commit to our collective movement for freedom and justice. We are here to answer that call.

In solidarity,

18 Million Rising
9to5
AAPIs for Civic Empowerment Education Fund
API Equality-LA
Asian American Advocacy Fund
Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF)
Asian Americans Advancing Justice - AAJC
Asian Americans Advancing Justice - Asian Law Caucus
Asian Americans Advancing Justice - Atlanta
Asian Americans Advancing Justice - Chicago
Asian Americans Advancing Justice - LA
Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders for Justice San Antonio, TX
Asian Americans United
Asian and Pacific Islander American Vote (APIAVote)
Asian Law Alliance
Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance (APALA)
Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon (APANO)
Asian Pacific Environmental Network
Asian Pacific Islander Community Actions
Asian Pacific Islander Political Alliance (API PA)
Asian Pacific Policy & Planning Council (A3PCON)
Asian Pacific Policy and Planning Council/Stop AAPI Hate
Asian Solidarity Collective
AYPAL
CAAAV Organizing Asian Communities
California Commission on APIA Affairs
Can’t Stop! Won’t Stop! Consulting
Center for Empowered Politics
ChangeLab
ChangeLawyers
Chinese for Affirmative Action (CAA)
Chinese Progressive Association, San Francisco (CPASF)
Coalition of Asian American Leaders

Coalition of Asian American Leaders - Minnesota (CAAL - MN)
Community Youth Center of San Francisco (CYCSF)
Filipino Advocates for Justice
Freedom, Inc
Grassroots Asians Rising
HANA Center
Hate Is A Virus
Helen Zia
Immigrants Rising
Japanese American Citizens League (JACL)
Korean Americans for Civic Participation
Legacies of War
Mekong NYC
National Asian Pacific American Women's Forum (NAPAWF)
National Coalition For Asian Pacific American Community Development (National CAPACD)
National Council of Asian Pacific Americans (NCAPA)
National Korean American Service & Education Consortium (NAKASEC)
National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance (NQAPIA)
New Breath Foundation
North Carolina Asian Americans Together (NCAAT)
OCA - Asian Pacific American Advocates
OPAWL
Organization of Chinese Americans National (OCA National)
San Francisco Rising (SF Rising)
Seeding Change
Service Employees International Union (SEIU)
Stop AAPI Hate
South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT)
Southeast Asian Freedom Network (SEAFN)
Stop AAPI Hate
Tsuru for Solidarity
VietLead

additional resources

We've compiled a list of additional resources and initiatives related to the 20th anniversary of 9/11. This is a non-exhaustive list; please further research and support Arab, Middle Eastern, Muslim and South Asian (AMEMSA)-led organizations.

  • 911hub.org — a learning hub on the impact of 9/11 on people of color hosted by Sikh activist Valerie Kaur

  • Teaching Beyond September 11th — multimodal curriculum for high school and college educators and students about the ongoing global impact of 9/11

  • The American Mosque 2020 — gives the most current data on mosques and their congregations in the United States from Institute for Social Policy & Understanding

  • Teaching the Costs of War — provides resources for university educators seeking to engage their undergraduate students in interdisciplinary conversations about the post-9/11 wars and their costs, as well as alternatives for a demilitarized future

  • Teaching September 11, 2001 in Classrooms — tool to facilitate and enrich classroom discussions in schools about the 20th anniversary of September 11th hosted by Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR)

  • 9/7 - 9/10: Reckoning with the Global War on Terror: Rethinking Security and Realizing Justice — virtual conference on the impacts of the global war on terror hosted by The American Friends Service Committee

  • 9/7 - 9/10: 20 Years Later: A Peace and Justice Film Festival — virtual film festival commemorating the 20th anniversary of September 11

  • 9/9: Shoulder to Shoulder Campaign — public conversation on “Multifaith Solidarity: 20 Years Since 9/11”

  • 9/10: South Asian Americans Leading Together — 20 years since, an interactive pop-up installation in New York City’s Greenwich Village

  • 9/11: Whose Narrative? 20 Years since September 11, 2001 — Moderated by renowned historian dr. Robin D. G. Kelley, this inaugural roundtable kicks off a semester-long intergenerational conversation that challenges the exceptionalization of 9/11/2001; legitimization of “war on terror” and other imperialist wars and interventions; justification of the “Security” State, and promotion of hyper masculinity and a colonial gender and sexualized order of modernization and “civilization.”

  • 9/13: De-Securitizing Muslim Identity Lecture Series — by Professor Abdullahi An'Naim & Center for Security, Race and Rights

  • 9/14: 20 Years After 9/11: Solidarity Lessons and Practices — an online teach-in to mark the 20th anniversary of 9/11 through the lens of solidarity hosted by Building Movement Project & SolidarityIs

  • 9/20: 20 Years Post 9/11 — Relive, Reflect, React Virtual Symposium hosted by SALDEF

  • 9/20: Letters from Detention — virtual performance, conversation, and reflection on 20 years since the post-9/11 roundups, detentions, and deportations hosted by Center for Constitutional Rights & The Public Theater


Questions or concerns? Please email [email protected]