TTT Philadelphia: In Atlanta on Tuesday evening, eight people were shot dead at three massage parlors around the city in what is the latest example of racially motivated attacks against Asian Americans – now deemed an easy target for such attacks.
According to law enforcement officials, six of the people killed were Asian, and two were white. Only one was male.
Robert Aaron Long, was later identified as the perpetrator of this horrific crime, and was arrested in nearby Crisp County after a surveillance footage image of him outside one of the massage parlors was released.
Long has since been charged with eight counts of murder connected to the attacks.
As some sort of bizarre attempt at justification for his actions, he has also told the police that he has a “sexual addiction” and intended to get rid of the “temptation” by carrying out the shootings.
He has also reportedly admitted to committing the crimes as an act of vengeance after visiting the parlors many times.
In response to this latest terrifying racist attack, Stop AAPI Hate, an organization formed to prevent anti-Asian discrimination during the COVID-19 pandemic, said that the shootings are an unspeakable tragedy, further suggesting that the Asian-American community in the US has been exposed to a high risk of racist threat – and attacks – since the pandemic started to sweep the US.
US president Joe Biden and vice-president Kamala Harris also addressed the deadly shootings in the Atlanta area.
Biden said on Wednesday that the brutal assault aimed at the Asian community is “very troubling.”
Harris, as the first vice-president of the United States of South Asian descent, called the shooting “tragic” and contended that the shooting spoke to a larger issue of violence.
She also indicated that she, as an Asian American has received a myriad of racist insults since she became the vice-president.
However, neither Biden nor Harris called the shootings a hate crime.
Instead, they left this issue as one for the Justice Department to determine.
The COVID-19 pandemic has led to incessant racist attacks against Asian Americans in the US in recent months.
At the end of January, an 84-year-old immigrant from Thailand was violently shoved to the ground when he was walking in the Anza Vista neighborhood in San Francisco.
On February 16th, a man in Queens, New York was apprehended after footage showed him brutally shoving an Asian woman on the street.
The New York Police Department said the 52-year-old women was waiting in line while the man was approaching her and some sort of dispute broke out. She was physically attacked after the initial altercation.
From the aforementioned cases, it can be seen that disturbing racist attacks or harassment are now being aimed at the vulnerable in the Asian community, such as women and the elderly.
But these are only the cases we see on TV or hear about from the online media.
As the author of this piece and Asian myself, I have also seen examples of racial discrimination against Asian people in the US – the country I am currently living in as part of my studies.
Most cases go unreported and ignored.
On one supposedly fun road trip, a friend was met with a straight up example of verbal racism when she was walking in Chicago.
A homeless person passed her by and told her to “go back to her own country,” a phrase sadly all too common in the US.
On the back of this, when the same female friend was travelling in Oklahoma, a conservative state in the South she was targeted by several middle-aged white men and was verbally harassed.
Similar to the mask-wearing issue, issues related to the Asian (American) community have become highly political during the pandemic, and many in our community have experienced either microaggressions or direct racist humiliation.
This intolerable act of racism in Atlanta will be and should be condemned. A prompt response from the authorities in cases like this is imperative.
But while an every increasing series of hate crimes are still under investigation in the US, back in my country, Taiwan, some are ignorant of these events and in some cases have taken to blaming, and even attacking white people.
‘Revenge’ is never an effective and healthy way to settle racial or ethnic conflicts.
Every one of us should work together to recognize and combat racism, whilst weaving peace into the fabric of society that links different ethnicities.
The Asian community has always been deemed the “modeled minority.” Part of this reason is that Asian people rarely addresses their issues publicly or fight for their rights when confronting racism.
However, the Atlanta shootings have shed light upon the current difficult situation Asian Americans have long put up with in terms of racial inequality during the COVID-19 pandemic, and before.
Whether this atrocious crime in Atlanta will be seen as a turning point in improving the status of the Asian community remains to be seen.