Asian Sex Worker Collective 'Red Canary Song' Leads Response to Atlanta Shootings

Asian Sex Worker Collective 'Red Canary Song' Leads Response to Atlanta Shootings

ATLANTA — The grassroots collective of Asian sex workers and allies Red Canary Song released a statement about the shootings at Gold Massage Spa, Young’s Asian Massage and Aroma Therapy Spa in Atlanta, Georgia on Tuesday.

The statement by Red Canary Song — also endorsed by multiple organizations — asks for “radical healing from State and community violence” and expresses “mourning with Asian massage workers in the Americas.”

This is the group's statement:

In the wake of the deaths of multiple Asian women massage workers in Georgia, we are sending radical love, care and healing to all of our community members. We acknowledge the ongoing pain and grief from continued violent assaults on our Asian and Asian American, APIA community, which has been compounded by the alienation, isolation and violence brought on by racist rhetoric and governmental neglect in reaction to the COVID-19 pandemic. We are concerned that many of those calling for action in this moment have and will continue to endorse violence towards Asian sex workers, massage workers, and survivors.

We reject the call for increased policing in response to this tragedy. The impulse to call for increased policing is even greater in the midst of rising anti-Asian violence calling for carceral punishment. We understand the pain that motivates our Asian and Asian-American community members’ call for increased policing, but we nevertheless stand against it. Policing has never been an effective response to violence because the police are agents of white supremacy. Policing has never kept sex workers or massage workers or immigrants safe. The criminalization and demonization of sex work has hurt and killed countless people — many at the hands of the police both directly and indirectly. Due to sexist, racialized perceptions of Asian women, especially those engaged in vulnerable, low-wage work, Asian massage workers are harmed by the criminalization of sex work, regardless of whether they engage in it themselves.

Decriminalization of sex work is the only way that sex workers, massage workers, sex trafficking survivors and anyone criminalized for their survival and/or livelihood will ever be safe.

Media coverage that examines the racist or sexist motivations of the killings as independent of each other fail to grasp the deeply connected histories of racialized violence and paternalistic rescue complexes that inform the violence experienced by Asian massage workers. We see the effort to invisibilize these women's gender, labor, class and immigration status as a refusal to reckon with the legacy of United States imperialism, and as a desire to collapse the identities of migrant Asian women, sex workers, massage workers and trafficking survivors. The women who were killed faced specific racialized, gendered violence for being Asian women and massage workers. Whether or not they were actually sex workers or self-identified under that label, we know that as massage workers, they were subjected to sexualized violence stemming from the hatred of sex workers, Asian women, working class people and immigrants.

We are asking that the community stand in solidarity with us and all immigrant and migrant massage workers and sex workers.

We highlight the following demands from NY-based massage parlor workers:

  1. Pay attention to the life and work safety of massage and salon employees
  2. Asian massage workers and businesses come from the community and give back to the community
  3. The legal working rights of Asian massage workers must be protected
  4. The lives of Asian massage workers must not be lost in vain
  5. The legal profession of massage work should be respected and protected by U.S. society

Signed,

Red Canary Song

There are also versions of the statement in Chinese and Korean.

Those interested in donating and learning more about the outreach that Red Canary Song does with Asian sex workers, click here

FSC Expresses Solidarity

Adult industry trade group Free Speech Coalition also issued a statement yesterday regarding the Atlanta shootings:

We were horrified to learn this morning of the murder of eight massage parlor workers in the Atlanta area. We offer our condolences to the families of those killed, and stand in solidarity with the sex workers, the Asian and Pacific Islander community, and Atlantans during this devastating time.

A lone gunman may have confessed — allegedly outraged over his own sexual desire — but we cannot ignore the racism, sexism, xenophobia and 'whorephobia' that fueled his rampage.

Despite its viciousness and cruelty, this was not an isolated incident, nor a surprising one. In the past year, we’ve seen a dizzying rise in anti-Asian discrimination, harassment and violence. Across the country, at least 54 sex workers were murdered — the unreported violence against themm [is] incalculable.

When politicians, pundits and law enforcement push immigrants, people of color and sex workers to the margins, it fosters a culture of exploitation, harassment and violence. When these communities are treated as threats to our culture, it enables and encourages violence against them. When sexuality is treated as shameful and dangerous, it gives permission to those who use their desire to justify brutality.

This was a hate crime, no matter how the media reports it and no matter how it is eventually prosecuted. The grief is overwhelming today, as we mourn for those we lost, but tomorrow we must rise again to fight the systemic racism, intolerance and injustice that bred last night’s hatred and violence.

For more about the Red Canary Song and Free Speech Coalition, follow them on Twitter.

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