A man shot eight people in Georgia this week, six of them Asian Americans and seven of them women. This is yet another tragic reminder of the devastating effects of gun violence—but those who think this is an isolated incident against Asian Americans haven’t been paying attention.
Not only were the majority of victims Asian American women, but the spokesperson for the county sheriff’s office dismissed the seriousness of the incident by saying the shooter was “having a bad day.” The same spokesperson had posted an image on his Facebook page of a t-shirt blaming China for the pandemic, reported BuzzFeed News.
According to the “Stop AAPI Hate National Report” (PDF), released Tuesday, there were 3,795 incidents of anti-Asian hate received by the Stop AAPI Hate reporting center between March 19, 2020 to February 28, 2021—before this week’s shooting. They note, however, that “The number of hate incidents reported to our center represent only a fraction of the number of hate incidents that actually occur.” Women reported incidents 2.3 times more than men.
And according to a new report from the Anti-Defamation League, 2020 saw “a near-doubling of white supremacist propaganda efforts,” including the distribution of racist, antisemitic, and anti-LGBTQ fliers, stickers, banners and posters. I don’t think it’s much of a stretch to see this as nurtured by Donald Trump’s consistently bullying, racist, remarks and his encouragement of white supremacist groups. Stop AAPI Hate, a national coalition aimed at addressing anti-Asian discrimination, was in fact formed because of the anti-Asian rhetoric spouted by Trump and many of his followers, who blamed China for the spread of COVID-19. That rhetoric and those fears were picked up by many, in Georgia and elsewhere; I’m not going to repeat any of the incidents here; they’re vile and could be triggering. If you want to learn more, however, look at Stop AAPI Hate’s “Georgia Report” from last December.
One read I found thoughtful, as a White American wanting to be a better ally, is “What This Wave of Anti-Asian Violence Reveals About America,” by Anne Anlin Cheng in the New York Times, which was written at the end of February (before the shooting!) and discusses anti-Asian violence in the broader context of race in America. She notes, “Thanks to the ‘Model Minority’ myth … Asian-Americans have long been used by mainstream white culture to shame and drive a wedge against other minority groups…. They are persistently racialized, yet they often don’t count in the American racial equation.” She observes, “There is something wrong with the way Americans think about who deserves social justice—as though attention to nonwhite groups, their histories and conditions, is only as pressing as the injuries that they have suffered.” Democracy, she says, is not about identifying with others like yourself nor about giving up your self-interest, but rather “about learning to see your self-interest as profoundly and inevitably entwined with the interests of others.”
How can we do better at that? I’m not sure I have any answers, but I think we all need to ask ourselves the question.
Those of us who are not Asian should also try to understand more about anti-Asian hate in the U.S. Try “Asian-Americans Are Being Attacked. Why Are Hate Crime Charges So Rare?” by Nicole Hong and Jonah E. Bromwich of the New York Times, and the Angry Asian Man blog’s latest “Read These Blogs” post, which rounds up a few additional pieces. Additionally, author Malinda Lo, whose latest novel Last Night at the Telegraph Club is both a lesbian coming-of-age story and a look at anti-Asian and anti-queer sentiment in the 1950s, recommended a few items in this Twitter thread (click the timestamp to see the whole thread):
For those who aren’t familiar with the long history of anti-Asian racism in the US, I recommend these pieces (thread):
(1) Hua Hsu at the New Yorkerhttps://t.co/A2tWIcVUXD
— Malinda Lo (@malindalo) March 18, 2021
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I have lost track of the number of shootings I have written about since starting this blog in 2005. Some have been acts of violence in schools; some are in other public places; many have targeted specific marginalized communities: the LGBTQ community; the Jewish community; the Sikh community; the Black community, and many more. Some of the shootings are communities of which I am part; others are not, but all are all equally horrific. My heart goes out to those in the Asian community today. We as a country have to do better.