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?
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.