The worldwide epidemic of COVID-19, as well as the subsequent social unrest across the United States, has intensified plenty of disparities that predate COVID-19. The effect of hate crimes on Asian American communities, however, has received little attention in comparison to the health or economic breakdown experienced by native Americans before the recent Spa Shootings in Atlanta.
On March 16, 2021, three spas or massage parlors in the Atlanta, Georgia, metropolitan area were targeted in a string of mass shootings. There were eight people killed, six of whom were Asian women, and one person was injured. Later that day, the attacker, 21-year-old Robert Aaron Long, was arrested. The horrific shootings triggered tremendous outrage and fear among Asian-Americans. And though the attacker denied any racial hatred while in detention, investigators said they had not ruled out bias as a motivation. According to investigators, the gunman admitted to police that he had a “sexual addiction” and that the killings at the massage parlors were carried out to remove his “temptation.” He also said that he used to visit massage parlors and that the attacks were a form of revenge. The police claim that, however, only one of the victims were women. Regardless of the motivation, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said that the accident was unforgettable. “Whatever the motivation was for this guy, we know that the majority of the victims were Asian,” Ms. Bottoms said. “We also know that this is an issue that is happening across the country. It is unacceptable, it is hateful and it has to stop.”
This is definitely a frightening nightmare for all Asian-America. But let’s hear what a sheriff said about this shooting crime. The official with the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Department, Capt. Jay Baker claimed that the suspect was “having a really bad day.” Apart from that, on March 17, Capt. Jay Baker was accused of racism and anti-Asian racism by Twitter users for potentially promoting xenophobic t-shirts.
In March of last year, Stop AAPI Hate was created to resist racism during the coronavirus pandemic. The organization gathers reports on instances of hatred and abuse aimed at Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders in the United States. The group said it received reports of 3795 cases between March 19 and February 28 in a report released this week. However, the number may be higher since not all accidents are registered.
Spa shooting crime is just one case among all of the nearly 3800 recent hate crimes against Asian and Pacific Islanders over the last year according to the Stop AAPI Hate organization, and it is everywhere.
The threats and even killings of Asian Americans blamed for the outbreak of the so-called “Kung Flu” are only the latest in a long line of anti-Asian racism and abuse against individual Asian Americans for world incidents that have nothing to do with them. Even the previous president Donald Trump renamed the coronavirus the “Chinese Virus” on purpose.
A number of viral videos showing violent threats against elderly Asian Americans across the United States have sparked concerns that racism against members of Asian community is on the rise once again.
The old man walking down the street in Oakland’s Chinatown neighborhood does not even see the face of his attacker, a man who violently shoves him to the ground and runs away. The assault on the 91-year-old man was caught on camera on January 31, and it became the most recent example of a surge of largely unreported hate crimes targeting Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.
So why are Asian Americans suffering under this challenging living situation? According to research, Asian Americans are often stereotyped as meek, compliant, or of all traits that would make them more desirable targets. Even if direct hatred isn’t the reason Asian Americans are being attacked, this type of passive racial bias will affect them. Additionally, traced back to history, racism towards Asian Americans can be found a long time ago. The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 was the first significant piece of immigration legislation enacted by the United States Congress, prohibiting all citizens of Chinese origin from entering the country. Literature is littered with government-sanctioned racism against Asian immigrants: In the 1880s, Asian children in California were segregated in “Oriental” schools, and the 1892 Geary Act allowed all Chinese born in the United States to receive and bear government identification confirming their legal status. In recent years, these racist policies have evolved into racism by association, which is followed by brutality.
The community is struggling with the fact that the legislation is clearly not structured to account for many of the ways Asian-Americans face racism as the controversy about what defines anti-Asian prejudice unfolds. Additionally, Experts claim that confirming a racial motive in attacks on Asians can be especially difficult. A noose is probably the most commonly known symbol of anti-Asian hatred. Many Asian crime victims in the United States have historically been small-business owners who have been robbed, which complicates the issue of motivation of the crimes.
However, there are uplifting cases that represent the toughness and courage of Asian Americans.
An elderly woman who was assaulted on Market Street in San Francisco turned the tables on her attacker, hitting him and causing him to go to the hospital. The woman appeared to have been injured on the side of her face and eye, and she was seen with an ice pack on her face. Both the attacker and the victim were taken to a hospital for treatment, according to police. “You bum, why did you hit me?” the woman yelled to the attacker in Chinese. The woman then turned to the crowd who had gathered, shouting, “This bum, he hit me,” as she lifted the stick she cried. “He hit me, this bum,“ she repeated.
Stop AAPI Hate co-founder Jeung believes that the best way to stop racial attacks is through group cooperation and empathy. He took part in a civil peace rally in San Francisco and Oakland and is now assisting in the organization of strolls around Chinatown, where residents walk to provide a sense of safety and comfort for merchants and senior citizens. “We know we need that this is an issue that affects all our communities, and we have to break the cycle of violence,” Jeung says. “And we’re calling not necessarily for more punitive measures but restorative justice models that break the cycle of violence, ethnic studies to teach people about racial solidarity, community mediation efforts to not only hold people accountable, but to work together to resolve issues.”
How can we deal with a hate crime if you find yourself in the middle of it? It is super important to respond to hate crime quickly and effectively. Hate crimes are distinct from other types of crimes in terms of their effect on victims and community cohesion:
- Hate crimes are usually injurious or even vital.
- Victims usually feel traumatized.
- Others in the community with similar characteristics to the victim may feel victimized and insecure.
Here are some suggestions for you:
- Get medical help immediately if you are severely injured.
- File police report and verify that the officer filled out a documentation form and assigns a case number. If you do not get a police report at the time of the report, go to the police department and request one. Even if it’s just a draft report, you can still have your own copy.
- As soon as possible after the incident, write down any and all information about the crime. Sex, age, height, ethnicity, weight, clothing, and other identifying features should all be included. Include any threats or biased statements that were made previously.
- Find support from whether your family or friends, or you can contact the anti-violence support service.