Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Asian Lives Matter (updated with a response to comments)

A shooter murdered eight people, including six Asian women, in Atlanta last night. Almost all the victims were workers at Asian massage spas, which gives the violence an undeniable racial aspect, even though one arresting officer ludicrously claimed the shooter was just "having a bad day." He was arrested "without incident," which told us he was white even before we saw his picture. These killings happened amid escalating attacks against Asians that Trump ignited by insistently calling Covid-19 the "China virus." In the past year, hate crimes against Asians have raged out of control, rising 1,900 percent just since lock downs began. My daughter and I had a text exchange about it just now. Her texts are in italics.

Mom! Having a moment about the Stop Asian Hate movement. Can I vent about it? Or use you as a sounding board?

Of course.  

I guess at the base of it? I feel like this is my first real opportunity to be an ally. Like the first movement I want to actively support that is not centered around an identity of mine. But how do I be a good ally? Do something more than post on my Instagram?

Also, I'm upset at all of the comments from Black people on the internet saying this isn't our fight or they give us hate so they're not supporting or fighting for them etc. That feels absolutely crazy to me but I can't get sucked into internet trolls .

Well, you can start by pushing back on those comments because this IS our fight. As MLK said “We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” 

And as Angela Davis and Kimberlé Crenshaw said, all fights for justice must be intersectional, because what uplifts one oppressed group uplifts us all.

It’s also interesting to me that while I absolutely want to be an ally too, because AAPI people like Mazie are powerful allies for us, I notice that even though my horror and sorrow at the killings last night are real, it doesn’t feel as VISCERAL as it does when it's a Black person, which helps me to have some compassion for it not feeling as visceral to non-Black people when the same happens to us.

It doesn't feel as visceral to me either!!! Which is kind of more motivating for me. Like I remember the deep pain I felt last summer when it was Black people, so I can understand the pain Asians must be feeling but am noticing I'm not feeling it in the same way. But knowing that and knowing that people stepped up in solidarity with us anyway is motivating me to want to step up too.

So true! Post on social media. That’s more meaningful than saying nothing. You can also read about the Asian experience in this country, like how Japanese American citizens were rounded up during WWII and put in American concentration camps, and how US immigration policy was most racist against Asians, and the Chinese Exclusion Act stayed on the books well into the 20th century. (Also non-white people were not allowed to become naturalized American citizens until the 1950s, which isn’t that long ago). Also, maybe google how to be a good ally.

Like it's my duty to do so! Because it's been painful when people have brushed off the murder of Black folk in the past.

Well, I remember last year when we were reeling we wanted people to take the initiative on reading and studying how to be an antiracist, instead of making Black people have to teach them, so it's on us to get ourselves up to speed on how we can help in meaningful ways.

Yes! Exactly that too. It is very surreal for me to be on the other side. Feels like quite a bit of extra work to be done that I didn't have to do when it was about my identities.  

Afterward, I got to googling and found that the website Stop AAPI Hate has good suggestions for how to help. Also we can read up Asian American and Pacific Islander news and issues on @NextShark, @ResonateVoices, and @DionLimTV.

Response to comments: Some of you wonder whether this was mass murder born of misogyny, not racial bias. To my mind, it was both, because while the shooter turned his firearm almost exclusively on women, his main target was Asian women at Asian spas. The one man who died was just walking by outside the spa, going to the check cashing place next door. 

I think Roxane Gay, author of Bad Feminist, Hunger, and other books, summed it up well on her Substack, The Audacity. In her piece, "A White Man's Bad Day," she wrote: "A hate crime was committed. It was vicious, gendered, and racially motivated. It was about class, the fetishization of Asian women, and men feeling entitled to sex. To eradicate this kind of moral rot, we need to name every part of it.” 

And then there is the matter of guns, and the fact that the murderer walked in and bought the weapon he used to massacre eight people that same day. The next day, 172 Republicans voted against the violence against women legislation, because they objected to a provision that would prevent domestic abusers from being able to purchase firearms. The gun lobby is so mean and mercenary it makes me despair. What keeps me going are people like you, who stay engaged and don't look away.


  1. This is very helpful. I also want to be an ally to the AAPI community, and I didn't know where to begin. this is a good starting point. Thank you. XXOO

  2. Thank you and I agree with the placard.

  3. These are powerful perspectives. Really powerful. And I thank you for letting us in on the exchange between you and your daughter and for the information as to where we can begin to educate ourselves.
    There is part of me, however, that wonders if it's not so much an Asian hate crime as a woman hate crime. If this guy is one of those Incels, it would make sense to me that he would take out his anger and frustration and yes, hatred for women at these places of business where he can buy a massage but cannot get true affection. Is this possible?
    I don't know. Whatever's going on, it is yet one more example of a how a white guy can kill multiple people and then be arrested and taken into custody without being so much as beaten up.

    1. That's an interesting question -- anti-Asian or anti-woman? If what we're being told about his motives is true, it sounds like the femaleness of his targets was his primary concern, but I suspect the fact that they were Asian women made it easier for him to "otherize" them. So ultimately maybe it was hatred for both groups.

    2. I read today that his social media is full of anti-Asian.

  4. Thank you for posting this conversation that you had with your daughter. So thoughtful and honest and compelling. I love the Martin Luther King quote. After all this time, all this violence, all this hatred I find it hard to have hope. I work at it though, and your post helps. Thank you.

  5. Hate's face appears to me to be mentally ill with deep roots in fear and ignorance. In contrast, because you mentioned his words, I'm reminded of MLK's face, that of an ally for so many -- his sane mind and heart praying for the strength to love. His spirit lives on in all who are learning to be allies, just as he had to learn. Thank you for including us in this conversation initiated by your daughter in the midst of yet another horrifying incident that calls for allies.

  6. Trump's shit lives on. This makes me angry.

  7. I just read happened. I don't know if they were shot because they were Asian or because they were women, either one is despicable.

  8. Great conversation. I found myself thinking around the 'visceral' comments. I think for this white woman (who has posted several times on prejudice against blacks) that when the perpetrator is a member of the police, say, or other group that should be trusted, the incident is more visceral for me. I too wonder if the shooting targeted women or Asians first. Probably the answer is *both*. But having said that, the details of the riot at the Capital building are still bouncing around in my head. The amount of armament - the obviously trained perpetrators - is totally frightening.

  9. It's great that your daughter comes to you with issues like this, to talk about them and work them out. That says so much not only about her but about your relationship! All your responses seem 100 percent right to me, especially the observation that what uplifts one group uplifts us all. Or, as the old saying goes, a rising tide lifts all boats.

  10. Thank you for a very uplifting post and I am very glad that you and your daughter can come to each other and offer support. I just cried and cried over such senseless crimes against humanity no matter the race but right now the Asian communities are in need of all of our support.

  11. I can not believe the police and the press are trying to excuse a mass shooting as some loser having a bad day. He's a murderer and should be named as such. The media should quit talking about him and talk about the victims and talk about how stupid the gun laws are that there was no background check. This country is wearing on my last nerve.

  12. "Having a bad day". Makes me sick.

  13. we've always had racism in this country against all non-white people but we had seemed to reach some sort of living together until Trump. every non-white group has suffered outright in your face racist hate since he was appointed. muslims, blacks, asians. like Ms Moon I thought at first that this was sexism, that it was directed at women and that they were asian was simply because those are the places he frequented but I have since learned that it was both. I still think his 'bad day' had an equal component of his hatred/fear of women, why else choose the places he did. anyway, we must all stand up for those being targeted. and until we rid the police of racists, something that seems impossible to do since their very genesis is in the slave hunting militias, or at least until we hold them accountable for the violence they get away with, then we the people are going to have to stand up to protect each other and total strangers.

  14. Humans seem to be more tribal than we acknowlege. I worked with caucasians, asians, indians, and blacks in Washington DC for 10 years and while we are all friendly, socialized at times, and worked as a team, at the end of the day the reality was - most people stuck to their own groups for the more intimate and deep conversations of life (and often in their own dialect) - the conversations that truly help you get to know each other better were saved "for their own."

    I really appreciated this post: it's honesty, your writing, the overall thoughtfulness (as in full of thought). Thank you. With greatest respect, Kim in PA

  15. Our Son's ex is Asian and the Grandkids, all Girls, so the recent escalation in Asian Hate Crimes alarms me and makes me concerned for their Safety. The Asian community has always experienced Racism, but been mostly stoic about it, which had given a sort of invisibility to what they've endured that goes way back here in America. This horrific crime was both Racial and Sexist, the 'having a bad day' statement from the Police spokesman was shocking and I'm glad they removed him immediately... but the fact those like him are on the Force just makes it all the more apparent that infiltration of Racism and Sexism and Homophobia within the ranks of the Police is just out of control and blatant now. I'm glad tho' that people are having to see and hear what many of us have always known... the naysayers and deniers will have a difficult time excusing away these things and pretending as if it doesn't happen.