On Tuesday, March 16, eight people, six of them Asian women, were shot and killed at three massage parlors in the Atlanta-area. A 21-year-old white man was arrested after a manhunt. This crime happened amidst increasing violence against Asian Americans in the United States over the past year. Earlier in the day on Tuesday, Stop AAPI Hate published a report that found there were nearly 3,800 hate incidents reported to group between March 19, 2020 and February 28, 2021, and the majority of them, 68%, were reported by women.
I heard about this tragedy a couple of hours after it happened. I had just finished re-watching Always Be My Maybe with my husband. This Netflix movie, written by and starring Ali Wong and Randall Park, is a funny, sweet, loving story filled with so much authentic Asian culture and joy. I was on such a cloud after spending 90 minutes laughing and crying happy tears with my husband.
I’ve not slept since. And my tears are no longer happy ones. At 5:30 a.m. on Wednesday, I finally had to put into words how I was feeling. Here is what I wrote:
It is 5:30 a.m. and I have not slept. I’ve not slept because I’m sad. I am scared. I am tired. I am emotionally drained. I am stressed. But mostly, I am angry.
I am angry that the fear and the pain that the Asian American community feels has been ignored or silenced for so long.
I am angry that six Asian women, several of whom reports say were in their 60s and 70s were killed by a terrorist, yet authorities and media outlets continue to refuse to call white men who commit these mass shootings in the name of hate anything but a “suspect” or “shooter” or “gunman” who “acted alone.”
I am angry that so many Asian immigrants who are survivors of war and other traumas in their home countries come to the U.S. seeking a better life for their families only to be subjected to racism and violence at the hands of the people who used them to uphold their white supremacist institutions.
I am angry that we continue to be labeled the model minority and used as a tool of systemic racism to oppress Black people.
I am angry that Stop AAPI Hate just released a report this week that found there were nearly 3,800 hate incidents reported to the group from March 19, 2020 to February, 28, 2021. Most of them, 68%, were reported by women. And even those numbers are likely severely underreported.
I am angry that I have seen very few people I know personally stand up in solidarity with the Asian American community. Where are your public declarations that this violence needs to end?
I’m sad. I am scared. I am tired. I am emotionally drained. I am stressed. But mostly, I am angry.
Since writing that post at 5:30 a.m., more information has come out about the motive behind this attack. The suspect confessed to the murders and, of course, has an explanation that removes any accountability from himself and instead places it squarely on the lives of the victims. He reportedly targeted the Asian-owned businesses because “he blames massage parlors for providing an outlet for his addiction to sex.” He told authorities that the “crimes were not racially motivated.” And perhaps the most infuriating part for me, is that, as I predicted in my writing above before any official reports, authorities stated that it appeared “the suspect was acting alone.”
Once again, the system is gaslighting the experiences, the fear, the pain and the suffering of a community of color.
Throughout the day, I’ve had people reach out to me offering words of encouragement, kindness, support. I am grateful for this. But we don’t need more thoughts and prayers. We need action. We need people to speak up. To stand in solidarity with us and publicly condemn the violence against the Asian American community. To educate themselves about the beautiful, diverse cultures within the Asian community and understand we are not a model minority. To amplify Asian voices. To diversify the information they consume on their social media accounts, their televisions and the books they read. To support Asian businesses. To make donations to Asian organizations that are leading the fight and helping those who need it most.
To recognize that we are stronger when we are united. This is not an “us” versus “them” issue. This is an “ALL OF US” versus “INJUSTICE” issue.