On Tuesday, March 12, eight people were killed in a series of shootings in Atlanta, Georgia. The shootings occurred in three different spas in Cherokee County and the Atlanta area.
The suspect, Robert Aaron Long, was charged with eight counts of murder and aggravated assault according to the Atlanta Police Department. Long, 21, told the police he felt compelled to carry out the shootings in order to eliminate his “temptation” for his sex addiction.
Out of the eight people killed in the shooting, six were women of Asian descent. This immediately raised alarms for a multitude of reasons for the general public. Although authorities reported that it is too early to know Long’s motive, millions have already taken to social media to speak about the many injustices committed against Asians historically and during the COVID-19 pandemic. Along with criticisms of the general media’s coverage on the issue, many also criticized a Georgia officer for claiming the shooter was just “having a bad day.”
The link between the rise in anti-Asian hate crimes and the shooting is not hard to miss.
The coalition “Stop AAPI Hate” has received 3,795 reports of anti-Asian hate incidents since March 2020. Throughout social media, thousands of videos of Asian elders being harassed and assaulted have shown the epidemic of anti-Asian hate crimes. Much of this spike in hate-crimes is correlated with the harmful rhetoric used by politicians during the COVID-19 pandemic, such as “Kung Flu” and “Chinese Virus.” The same organization found that women reported incidents 2.3 times more than men, leaving Asian women around the nation feeling scared, angry, and exhausted.
Glendora High School (GHS) student Melanie Lam remembers feeling speechless after reading the news on Tuesday.
Speaking on her thoughts as an Asian-American woman, Lam noted that over the few weeks, “It’s really so terrible that I open my Instagram feed to reports on new hate crimes. I’ve almost built an immunity to it before this shooting.”
Another GHS student, Kaili Hiramoto, shares her experiences as a half-Chinese person. As violence against Asian-appearing women increased throughout the year, she caught herself almost feeling lucky that she wasn’t a clear target.
Reflecting on this, Hiramato firmly stated, “That is absolutely wrong. I shouldn’t have to be afraid of sharing the appearance and culture of my Chinese brothers and sisters.”
Fear within Asian women has been normalized throughout history. Although not talked about much, Asian women are often hyper-sexualized and perceived as “cute” and “innocent” women. The harms of this stereotype can be seen in Long’s reason for targeting an Asian-owned spa to satisfy his “temptations.” On top of these existent stereotypes, Asian women now live in constant fear of being shoved to the ground, stabbed, or even killed because their race is seen as the cause of the coronavirus.
To bring some light to the situation, it is evident that non-Asian people of color have tried to stand in solidarity with Asian communities online and in protests. Although different racial groups have been pitted against the Asian community by the model minority myth and white supremacy, it is evident that people around the country are becoming aware of this ongoing issue. Hiramoto reminds others to support Asian-owned businesses at this time and continue to actively fight against racism in order to truly stand in solidarity with the Asian community.