The Aftermath of the Atlanta Shooting
I can’t describe to you the rage that I felt when I read the news. My entire body was trembling. I couldn’t breathe, but I couldn’t cry, either. Every piece of violence I’d read up till now had been an angry pinch, a prod; this was the breaking point. I thought to myself, there’s no way anyone can try disguising this horror for what it is. There’s no way the entire nation won’t be outraged and ready to fight on behalf of the AAPI community.
But I was proven wrong.
In the media, a few phrases became prevalent within the next few days: “He was having a bad day,” “It wasn’t about race, he was just addicted to sex,” “This was a temptation he wanted to eliminate.”
Are you kidding me?! Are we seriously going to attribute the deaths of Xiaojie Tan, Daoyou Feng, Soon Chung Park, Suncha Kim, Yong Yue, and Hyun Jung Grant to a white man needing an “outlet” for his “sexual fantasies?”
The tragedy that occurred on March 16th in Atlanta, Georgia, forced us to examine this country’s own bigotry and hatred towards anyone who doesn’t fit the “white cishet male” mold.
The problem is the mild, naïve language used by the police to describe this hate crime. The problem is many media outlets pretending that domestic terrorism didn’t occur in the string of these three spa shootings.
President Biden said the day after the shooting, that “the question of motivation is still to be determined.” If this sort of language is being used by our president, someone so many in our nation look up to, that means that the same mentality is going to be passed down to assuage white guilt, to pretend the U.S. isn’t polarized, to show the world that this is the global superpower everyone should look up to. This mentality seems like it will fester through the pandemic. And I’m so. Done with it.
Later, I saw the media coverage had shifted to include the phrase “hate crime.” Then I saw the flood of people rising in a fervor of support and outrage for the deaths of these Asian women. I felt a bitter relief seeing others standing with the community, seeing that this moment wouldn’t be brushed away like all the others. But that brought up another question.
Why is it that these lives seem to only matter when they’re gone?
Where is the outrage when AAPI elderly are getting thrown to the ground and beaten? To me, the elderly is the community that deserves the most respect. Seeing them tossed around violently is gut-wrenching. Seeing them crying and bloody and helpless only solidifies the hatred I’ve felt towards racist monsters. How DARE you torture them? And bystanders--how DARE you leave these innocent people bleeding on the floor? Why won’t anyone protect them?
I’m upset that it took a shooting for the Asian hate crimes to get coverage. And even then, the shootings received skewed media coverage from the beginning.
So many of my Asian friends have felt disgusted by their cultures during the pandemic. At the start of the pandemic, Chinese people were referred to as “bat-eaters” by the media. Stigmatizing news headlines and commentary ran rampant, circulating the “China” or “Wuhan” virus. I saw my friends embarrassed and ashamed. So many times, my friends joked, “I eat dog, yum yum,” or something along the lines of that in an attempt to shoo away the media’s anti-Asian sentiment with humor. They shouldn’t have had to do that.
From those media microaggressions to domestic terrorism, the AAPI community has borne the weight of this nation’s hatred.
This is a moment of acrid grief. A mourning period. Stand in solidarity with the AAPI community.