On the night of Tuesday, 16 March, a 21-year-old white man attacked three spas in the metro Atlanta area, shooting and killing eight people. Six of the eight victims were Korean American women. This attack is the worst possible outcome of the rise in coronavirus-driven anti-Asian hatred – another mass shooting rooted in white supremacy and goaded by politicians’ xenophobic rhetoric.
The incident is a horrific peak in the bigotry we’ve all witnessed over the past year: once again, marginalized working-class immigrants are targeted at a time of global crisis; once again, we witness our nation’s inability to recognize the dominance of gendered white supremacist violence and racism in all of its structures; once again, our healing is disrupted.
Still, local police are not categorizing this mass shooting as a hate crime, nor recognizing the significant role of both race and gender in the shaping of this tragedy. But we must be clear: seven of the eight victims were women; six of the eight victims were Asian American. It is clear the shooter (who has cited “sexual deviance” as his motivation for murder) also had some bias in his targeting, whether explicit or implicit. This, in turn, demands that we – as Asian and Pacific Islander Americans, as Americans of color, as Americans generally – question how embedded anti-Asian rhetoric is in American culture and how American culture benefits from patriarchal white supremacy and erasure. And more specifically, these intersections point to the clear history of dangerous sexualization of Asian women in the U.S. Last night’s shooting can only be understood and approached as an act of race‑, class‑, and gender-based sexual violence.
Considering these complexities, it is our responsibility as members and allies of the broader APIA community to push for an intersectional analysis that understands the racism facing Asian and Pacific Islander Americans, as well as the violent and sexualized misogyny aimed at our East Asian and Southeast Asian sisters. Our role in this moment is to both remember the pain of our past community experiences with mass violence, and honor and move towards the point of healing and reparation.
Below are some allies who have ties to the victims, their families, and their communities; please follow them to stay updated on calls to action and news.
- Asian Americans Advancing Justice (AAAJ) — Atlanta
- Red Canary Song
- Survived & Punished
- National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF)
SAALT mourns the loss of our Korean American siblings’ lives, and in their honor, reaffirms our responsibility to protecting others from similar harm.