March 19, 2021
The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) strongly condemns the escalating violence against the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community, most recently manifested by this week’s mass shooting in Atlanta. We mourn for the victims of that tragedy and their families.
The loss of those innocent lives, as well as numerous other episodes of violence against AAPI people over the past year, underscore what the ASHA community intrinsically understands: Words matter, and words of hate and prejudice can unfortunately translate into violent action. Language that is used to weaponize, target, and perpetrate harm against individuals of a particular race, ethnicity, gender, or sexual orientation is unacceptable—always.
Racist and xenophobic language that has been used and promoted, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic, sadly has real-world consequences for innocent people. The consequences of this bigotry are not only a severe emotional toll on members of AAPI communities but also physical harm that has received far less attention than warranted from the public, media, law enforcement, and state and federal governments.
ASHA calls on politicians and legislators at federal, state, and local levels, political pundits, and members of the media to be responsible in their rhetoric and to reflect on their roles in addressing racist words and actions. We stand in solidarity with our AAPI members, students, and colleagues, and share concern for their safety—and that of their families and the clients/patients/students served in AAPI communities.