Connecting State Violence and Anti-Violence: An Examination of the Impact of VAWA and Hate Crimes Legislation on Asian American Communities
In the United States, the dominant approach to responding to various forms of interpersonal violence, such as intimate violence or bias attacks, supports and expands the state apparatus of incarceration. For communities of color and LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, and queer) communities who are already at risk for institutional violence, solutions that are built on a foundation of criminalization become a source of violence as they intensify policing mechanisms. These uneasy dynamics can be examined through a closer look at legislation intended to protect survivors of intimate violence and hate crimes. Analyzing the emergence of legislative responses to violence that is committed against people who are marginalized because of their race, religion, ethnicity, nationality, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, and disability provides an insight into systematized sociopolitical institutions, such as the state incarceration apparatus. Legislation that addresses “violence against women” and “hate crimes” are used both against and in “protection of” Asian American communities and offer illustrative examples of the relationship between individualized violence and state violence. In this Article, we examine how these legislative acts exclude, neglect, and punish survivors who deviate from the parameters of the “model minority victim.” Next, we examine the impact of these different legal remedies—how they expand state criminalization of immigrant communities and perpetuate negative stereotypes of people of color, and how they rely on the criminal-legal infrastructure in the United States for “safety” and “punishment” and serve to build the perpetually expanding prison system. Finally, we examine the potential for transformative justice strategies as a response to individualized violence that do not rely on the state. We look at the ways in which state-based responses to violence contribute to race-based discrimination and fail to encourage solidarity among people of color. Instead, we propose a shift away from state-based responses to community-based responses that identify all forms of violence whether personal, political, state, or systemic.