A 21-year-old white male named Robert Aaron Long has been arrested in connection to a mass shooting that took place in Atlanta yesterday and killed eight people, including at least six Asian women. Per the BBC, four of the victims were of Korean descent.
The shootings took place over the course of Tuesday afternoon/evening and targeted three different locations. The first happened at Youngs Asian Massage Parlor in Acworth, Cherokee County, killing four people. Less than an hour later, Long reportedly targeted two more spas in north-east Atlanta — Gold Spa and Aromatherapy Spa — and killed a further four victims. Whatever the broader media tries to "neutrally" portray this as, do not be mistaken, this was an act of white supremacy and the latest horrific anti-Asian hate crime.
There is a great deal of fear and pain in the Asian American community who have been scapegoated, blamed, and harrassed for the Covid-19 pandemic. The Atlanta shootings, along with the hundreds of cases of racist violence against Asians, show just how vicious anti-Asian xenophobia has become. This cannot be tolerated, this cannot go on, we all need to do our part to stop the hate before it takes more lives.
Asians in America have been calling to #StopAsianHate following a huge increase in hate crimes and racist attacks in the last few months — a large number of which have targeted elderly people, including Vicha Ratanapakdee, an 84-year-old Thai man who died after being violently shoved to the ground in San Francisco. These incidents aren't only happening in the US, either. A Japanese man was recently attacked with acid in Paris, while in the UK, hate crimes against people of East and Southeast Asian heritage increased 300 percent since the start of the pandemic.
Furthermore, even before the Atlanta massage parlor shootings, most racist attacks against Asian Americans this past year have targeted women. According to research released by Stop AAPI Hate, 68 percent of the attacks nearly 3,800 incidents were reported during the pandemic, of which 68 percent of the victims were Asian women. It's the intersection of racism and sexism that has made Asian women such frequent targets coupled with the xenophobic political dialogue of the last year.
A lot of this is linked to the coronavirus. After Donald Trump called Covid-19 “the China virus” last March, advocacy group Stop AAIP Hate recorded more than 650 incidents in just one week, ranging from verbal harassment to assault.
“The issue of violence against the Asian American community has been widely underreported in the media and somewhat silenced during the pandemic,” designer Phillip Lim told WWD. “These hate crimes are up by 1,900 [in New York City, according to 2020 NYPD data] and are a symptom of a larger issue rooted in systemic racism. It is a direct result of the xenophobia and colonialism that has existed in America for decades.”
The #StopAsianHate campaign started gaining prominence after Asian celebrities, including actors Olivia Munn, Harry Shum Jr, and Daniel Dae Kim felt that violence against Asians was being downplayed or ignored and came together to raise awareness of the issue. Here's how you can join them to #StopAsianHate.
A host of Asian fashion industry insiders — including Philip Lim, Opening Ceremony's Humberto Leon, and Carol Lim, Susie Bubble, Bryanboy, and Eva Chen — have teamed up with GoFundMe to start an official fundraising campaign to raise funds for AAPI (Asian American and Pacific Islanders) grassroots organizations. The exact organizations haven't been announced but they are chosen by Gold House, a "nonprofit collective of Asian founders, creative voices, and leaders."
Philip Lim announced the campaign on Instagram, writing that he and those involved are "turning the anger and cumulative frustration into an actionable step forward!"
Go Fund Me kickstarted the campaign with a $25,000 donation, and Silicon Valley It-couple Jen Rubio and Stewart Butterfield donated $50,000, but the majority of the donations are less than $100 and will be spread across a variety of organizations. As Lim also wrote in his announcement: "Every dollar matters, every voice counts!"
If you want to have a physical symbol of your support of the movement, Ruba Abu-Nimah and Philip Lim's "NY TOUGHER THAN EVER" project has created a red #StopAsianHate keychain with 100 percent of all net proceeds going to AAPI grassroots organizations.
You can also support local initiatives, like Made in Chinatown a merchandise program started by grassroots organization Welcome to Chinatown directly supporting businesses in Manhattan’s Chinatown during these uncertain times.
Report Hate Crimes, Signal Boost & Get Involved In Your Community
If you can't donate financially, there are still plenty of ways to help the movement. One is to report any instances of anti-Asian assaults and crimes with Stop AAPI Hate or a local group advocacy group.
Another is to help draw attention to these incidents by signal boosting social media posts or articles discussing the issue. Browse the hashtags #StopAsianHate, #HATEISAVIRUS, and #ProtectOurElders, follow activists like Amanda Nguyễn and Michelle Kim to stay informed, and read personal accounts of racism by Asian-American writers here, here, and here.
Join online communities like Hate is a Virus and Act to Change that support the AAPI community in educating and combating racism. You can also physically get involved. Safe Walks NYC and Compassion in Oakland have gathered volunteers to be a walking-home companion for anyone feeling unsafe.
Understand the history
Of course, racism against Asians or Asian-Americans didn't start with the Covid-19 pandemic. The story of anti-Asian hate in the US is long and varied and, like most of society's ills, can be linked back to colonialism, imperialism, and white supremacy. It ranges from state-sanctioned racism like the ban on Chinese immigrants under the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act (similar bans were in place in Australia, New Zealand, and Canada), and the Japanese internment camps in the 1940s, to attacks on Filipino farmworkers in the 1930s, the “Chinese Massacre” in Los Angeles in 1871, and the violent death (and lack of conviction for the killers) of Vincent Chin.
Despite this, there is a myth of Asian-Americans as "the model minority," one that has thrived under white supremacy. This myth helps downplay the racism that Asians face and also helps perpetuate the oppression of other minorities in the US. The fight against racism won't end when the pandemic does, and learning about the history of Asians in America will help inform the continued struggle.
A simple way to learn the history is by reading the Hate Is A Virus Toolkit, published by activist group Act To Change. The toolkit explains Asian-American history and gives you strategies on how to stand against racism and xenophobia today.