Atlanta spa shootings: #stopasianhate


Over the past week, you may have seen your social media feed covered with posts raising awareness for a rise in hate crimes against Asian communities in the West and how you can help. This widespread movement was triggered by the Atlanta spa shootings, where eight people were killed, among whom six were women of Asian descent. Whenever there is a case of mass shooting, the media is often quick to link the motives to hate or mental illness, but they refuse to call it for what it is this time — an act of racial hatred. 

When asked about the shooter’s motives, officer Jay Baker remarked that the shooter was having a “really bad day”. Unsurprisingly, Baker’s ignorant and egregious comments were met with intense scrutiny, fuelling calls for his resignation. But his reaction was unsurprising, Asians living in Western societies are no strangers to discrimination after all, and they are certainly no strangers to having their cries for help ignored. Poet Cathy Park Hong encapsulated these frustrations in her recent book, Minor Feelings, “In the popular imagination, Asian Americans inhabit a vague purgatorial status: not white enough, nor black enough; distrusted by African Americans, ignored by whites, unless we’re being used by whites to keep the black man down.” 

When asked about the shooter’s motives, officer Jay Baker remarked that the shooter was having a “really bad day”.

Ever since former president Donald Trump began using racially charged terms to reference Covid-19 such as the “Kung Flu” at the beginning of the pandemic, the number of hate crimes committed against Asian Americans have surged and the nature of the attacks have intensified, with the latest mass shooting in Atlanta being its apotheosis. Indeed, researchers at California State University showed that hate crimes against Asian Americans spiked 149 per cent between 2019 and 2020. 

Naturally, numerous large-scale ‘Stop Asian Hate’ rallies have emerged across the USA since last week, with protestors carrying signs such as “THIS IS MY HOME TOO” and “STOP WHITE TERRORISM.” Several Asian American celebrities also shared their support, but Sandra Oh’s passionate speech in Pennsylvania stood out especially, in which she said, “One thing that I know is that many in our community are very scared, and I understand that… one way to get through our fears is to reach out to our community”. Her words echoed cries for unity and strength, urging people to help our “brothers and sisters,” and ending with a  powerful, “I am proud to be Asian, I belong here.” Similar cries have been reiterated at the  highest level, with Rep. Judy Chu saying in a congressional hearing, “The Asian-American community has reached a crisis point that cannot be ignored.” 

Hate crimes against Asians in the UK have increased by 300% in the past year, with no end in sight.

However, this isn’t just an American issue, in fact, hate crimes towards Asians in Britain are just as serious of an issue. In February last year, Singaporean student Jonathan Mok was told “we don’t want your coronavirus in our country” before getting brutally beaten up by a group of thugs on Oxford Street. Hate crimes against Asians in the UK have increased by 300% in the past year, with no end in sight. This begs the question of where are the ‘Stop Asian Hate’ rallies in this country? It is time for this country to unite against racism the same way it did in June under the ‘Black Lives Matter’ protests.

The Atlanta murders won’t be the last unless we all make a concerted effort to educate ourselves, condemn these attacks and most importantly, #stopasianhate. More needs to be done. There needs to be change, not tomorrow, not the day after tomorrow, but today. We need change, and we need it now.

Image: Miki Jourdan via Flickr

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