Violence shakes the Asian American community
Phil Yu was not surprised that a white gunman killed eight people, including six Asian women, at Atlanta-area spas advertising their “Asian” or “international” staff.
The worst thought he had on Wednesday, the day after the massacre, was just that, he said – he saw it coming.
“Being Asian in this country, no matter how long you’ve been here or how you got here, often feels like a constant negotiation of feeling unwelcome,” said Yu, blogger and commentator in Southern California who posts as Angry. Asian Man.
Many Asian Americans are bristling with pain and fury, viewing the killings as the culmination of a constant rate of racist attacks, with some blaming them for the coronavirus pandemic due to its origins in China.
Law enforcement officials said Robert Aaron Long, a 21-year-old from Woodstock, Ga., Was motivated by a “sex addiction,” that there was probably no racial component in them. attacks and that Tuesday was “a bad day for him.”
Long was charged Wednesday with eight counts of murder and one count of aggravated assault.
But many Asian Americans saw it differently. The murder of so many Asian women, in companies known to employ Asian workers, was racial targeting by its very circumstances, they said.
They feared for their parents, their grandparents, their friends, their children, themselves. They lamented that the dreams of hard-earned immigrants were tarnished by hatred. Some Asian American women shared their experiences of being dehumanized and fetishized by white men.
After all, the murders took place the same week, the Stop AAPI Hate advocacy group reported that thousands of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have been the victims of racist verbal and physical assault since the start of the pandemic over a year ago.
Also this week, former President Trump called COVID-19 “the Chinese virus” again on national television.
Representative Judy Chu (D-Monterey Park) is scheduled to testify Thursday at a congressional hearing on the rise in hate crimes against people of Asian descent.
Chu, the first Chinese-American woman elected to Congress, chairs the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus.
She laid the eight dead directly at Trump’s feet, as have other Asian Americans.
“President Trump has clearly fanned the flames of xenophobia against AAPIs with his rhetoric,” Chu said on Capitol Hill Wednesday at the weekly Democratic caucus press conference, calling the virus “kung flu” and ” Wuhan virus’ in addition to the virus. “Chinese virus”.
“And what we saw yesterday is the result,” she said.
At least four of the women killed were of Korean descent, and the attacks received close coverage in Korean media.
At the Korean H Mart supermarket in Garden Grove, some shoppers debated the suspect’s motives.
Some wondered why there hadn’t been more attention to the shooter’s “racial targets”.
When asked what they thought of the violence, several older buyers turned away.
“We don’t want to be targets either,” one said.
In nearby businesses, people were flocking for quick haircuts and steamed tofu lunches.
Elizabeth Choi was choosing a birthday cake for her uncle at the Paris Baguette bakery.
The occasional mention of hateful anti-Asian incidents within his entourage seemed “just like a casual conversation, until we heard about what the guy did to the spa workers,” said Choi, who is of Korean origin.
“Why would people want to hurt the working poor? Something more aggressive seems to be happening – yes, we’re scared now, ”she said through an interpreter. “Really scared. Terrified.
Brea’s housewife, 51, said her daughter advised her not to travel to “too many areas outside of Asia.”
“When they’re looking for a Chinese face” to blame the pandemic, “any Asian face” will do, Choi’s daughter told him.
In early 2020, as news of the coronavirus circulated in Asia and Europe but not yet in the United States, Christine Liwag Dixon was preparing for what was to follow.
Dixon is Filipino and white mixed race, a 31-year-old writer who lives in New York City. Family and friends had shared some of the racist comments about Asians they had endured even at the very start of the pandemic.
“I was afraid to leave the house,” she said.
When she finally ventured out once last year for a walk around the neighborhood, she wondered, “What if they say something?” What if they throw something at me?
As Dixon watched the news of the Atlanta bombings and learned of the increase in anti-Asian hate crimes in New York City, she cried.
All of these times, she realized, she wasn’t overdoing it. When officials said the shooting was not racially motivated, she laughed in disbelief.
“I think it’s a bull load—” she said.
Dixon and other Asian Americans are frustrated and angry that there hasn’t been more attention on the matter.
“I almost felt suffocated from the lack of coverage,” she said. “I’ve been sitting here all day wondering, ‘Why now? Why today? ‘ We have been talking about it for a year. Why do these Asian women have to get slaughtered for people to suddenly pay attention? “
Social media was accused of such an outrage on Wednesday.
“In less than 48 hours, we had a historic moment for the Asian Oscars with several premieres in 93 years and then a mass shootout targeting 3 Asian companies. This is how terrorism works: you are not allowed to feel safe, accepted or valued. We can resist. Take up space. Make noise,” tweeted novelist Min Jin Lee.
“Instead of centering a white supremacist who had a ‘sex addiction’ (who incidentally you can also be a racist terrorist at the same time), remember the real victims of yesterday and their families,” Los Angeles actress Kristina Wong said in a tweet.
And rep Ted Lieu’s tweets got angry throughout the day.
At 8:27 a.m., the Torrance Democrat targeted Trump and some elected officials for creating a hostile environment with hateful anti-Asian rhetoric.
“If you are one of those officials,” he wrote, “please stop.
At 9:55 am, he scoffed at reports that “sex addiction” rather than racism was motivating the shooting suspect.
Two and a half hours later, he looked like he had had enough, after a spokesperson for the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Department in Georgia said the alleged shooter had gone on a rampage because ” yesterday was a very bad day for him “.
“We’ve all had bad days,” Lieu tweeted. “But we don’t go to three Asian companies and shoot Asian employees.”
The former prosecutor said in an interview that denying a racial component to the shootings “does not correspond to the facts as we know them now.”
“We have seen an increasing amount of violence against Asian Americans, starting with more verbal harassment,” Lieu said. “Then it got out of hand. You had an Asian American family in Texas last year who were stabbed because the perpetrator thought they had spread the virus… Then you saw elderly Asian Americans being targeted. For many of us, it was not surprising to see several Asian victims of crime. “
And then there is the story, a reminder that the past is a prologue, from the scapegoat of the 19th century “yellow peril” and the Chinese exclusion law to the incarceration of Japanese Americans by the government. American during World War II.
In 1982, a 27-year-old Chinese-American named Vincent Chin was beaten to death with a baseball bat by two Detroit autoworkers who believed he was Japanese.
It was a time when the American auto industry was in decline. The attackers blamed Chin.
“When Americans feared the rise of Japan in the 1980s, it caused an increase in hate crimes,” Lieu said. “And now, with the pandemic, you see an increase in hate crimes against Asian Americans. … When America felt threatened in the past, this country sometimes targeted Asians.
Times editors Jenny Jarvie, Emily Alpert Reyes, Don Lee and Victoria Kim contributed to this report.