As I’m sure you’ve heard by now, there were shootings around the Atlanta area last week that sparked a rise across the country in the push to end anti-Asian sentiment. For those who haven’t heard, 8 people, 6 of whom were Asian women, were killed in a series of mass shootings at massage parlors around Atlanta on March 16. The suspect, a 21-year-old white man, was taken into custody later that day.
The gunman told police told the police he had a “sex addiction” and the spas were a “temptation he wanted to eliminate”. This echoes the constant fetishization of Asian women that has been occurring for decades. Asian women are often seen as objects of sexual attraction rather than as human beings. In fact, these tropes are so engrained in society that authorities and media outlets stumbled when discussing the shooting as to whether it occurred at spas or massage parlors (the latter has been associated with a connotation of prostitution and sexualization).
These shootings are just one part of the anti-Asian sentiments and xenophobia that have been spreading rampantly across the country since the start of the pandemic. Since last March, COVID-19 has been referred to by hateful names such as “Chinese virus” by Donald Trump and “Wuhan virus” by Mike Pompeo, among others. The especially concerning thing about this is that Trump and Pompeo are high-profile individuals that only represent the tip of the iceberg that is their long lists of supporters.
Beyond this, Asian-Americans have experienced an increase in discrimination, racism and even physical attacks, so much so that by the end of April last year, a reporting center created by several Asian-American groups called “STOP AAPI HATE” received almost 1500 incidents.
While it’s easy to get swept up in all the hatred and bigotry around, it’s important to make sure we honor those whose lives were lost: Hyun Jung Grant (51), Xiaojie Tan (49), Delaina Ashley Yaun (33), Yong Ae Yue (63), Suncha Kim (69), Soon Chung Park (74), Daoyou Feng (44) and Paul Andre Michels (54). All of these individuals had families and children they supported and all of them had their lives taken from them in a cruel and unfair way.
So what can you do about all of this? The quickest and most important way we can make a difference in our communities and help put an end to this hatred is by educating yourselves and others around you. For starters, any time you hear or see someone acting discriminatory or racist to Asian-Americans, you can call it out, letting that person know that their actions are not welcome.
Beyond that, you can buy from Asian-owned small businesses and help keep them running. This is particularly important because many of these businesses saw an even larger drop in sales compared to other small businesses due to customers being discriminatory and choosing not to use those businesses. Education of yourself and others is vital to putting an end to these Anti-Asian sentiments. You can do this through reading books and listening to podcasts by Asian-Americans, which will also support the individuals and businesses who create them.