Racism Against Asians In The US: The Atlanta Attack, The Most Violent End Of a Growing Problem In a Pandemic

Flowers of all colors are still at the foot of the massage parlor and the two spas where this March 16 Robert Aaron Long, a 21-year-old white man, shot dead eight people, six of them women of Asian origin. Victim support is seen not only on the doorstep of these Georgia establishments, but also throughout the United States under the banner “#StopAsianHate” (end hatred against Asians), a label that has spread so much for the networks as in protests that have developed throughout the country.

The shooting has been the last straw. Between March 2020 and February 2021, 3,795 incidents were recorded against citizens of Asian origin on US soil, including verbal (68.1%), physical (11.1%) attacks, discrimination and abuses against their rights, according to data of Stop AAPI Hate, an organization that represents people of Asian or Pacific Islander origin in the United States. The organization notes that this figure only reflects “a fraction of the number of hate incidents that actually occur.”

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Figures supported by the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, which states that Hate crimes against the Asian minority skyrocketed by 145% between 2019 and 2020 in major US cities. The study is conducted with police data on hate crimes in the 16 largest cities in the country. This increase occurs while in 2020 hate crimes in general fell by 6% compared to the previous year. The report notes that this decline is likely due to the “lack of interaction” due to the restrictions of the pandemic. Hate crimes against Asians had already been on the rise in previous years. Between 2014 and 2019 there was a 12.8% increase in this type of attack.

“My boyfriend and I were on the DC subway when, on the escalator, a man hit my back repeatedly and passed us. When I was at the top of the stairs, he turned around and yelled at me repeatedly. : ‘Chinese bitch.’ The attacker forced a cough and physically threatened us. A few days later, we saw on the news that the owner of Valley Brook Tea in DC was harassed and pepper sprayed by the same man, who called him ‘COVID -19 ‘repeatedly “. This is one of the many accounts compiled by the Stop AAPI Hate report.

Not all the attacks that the community has suffered during the pandemic have been by strangers. “One of my teachers was talking about the work of health personnel in the face of COVID-19 and explicitly called it the Chinese virus,” says another of the sources echoed by the organization.

Another great personality who used that term, along with “Kung flu“(a pun on the term ‘flu’ in English), was former President Donald Trump. For his part, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo chose to call the new disease” the Wuhan virus. ”

Despite the fact that at the end of March the ex-president published a tweet in which he expressed his support for the Asian-American community, during his tenure he did not take any specific government measure for the protection of people belonging to this community.

For his part, during his first week in office, President Joe Biden signed a decree prohibiting the use of discriminatory language against Asian Americans within the federal government. However, activists in this community, as well as some Democratic legislators, are asking for more attention and resources to address this issue.

This past Friday, Biden and the vice president, Kamala Harris, traveled to Atlanta to condemn the multiple murder. The president said it was part of the “skyrocketing growth” in attacks on Asian Americans.

“They have been attacked, blamed, treated as scapegoats and harassed. They have been verbally attacked, physically attacked, killed. It has been a year in which they have lived in fear for their lives.” said biden.

Unless the criminal mentions the origin of the victim before or during the attack or confesses that he did it for racial reasons, it is very difficult for the US authorities to classify an attack as a hate crime. This is why Salman Muflihi, who this February stabbed an Asian man in the back in Manhattan’s Chinatown and said he did not like the way he looked at him, was charged with attempted murder, but did not hate crime. The reason, according to the police, is that the offender never saw the face of the victim.

Regarding the Atlanta shooting, the authorities for now do not rule out that the massacre could be a hate crime and continue to investigate what happened, but in a press conference, the Cherokee County Sheriff, Frank Reynolds, affirmed that the detainee He had denied that his actions were “racially motivated” and attributed it to a disturbance derived from his “sexual addiction”, since during his interrogation the twenty-year-old presented himself as a “sexual obsessive” eager to suppress “a temptation”.

“People are literally debating whether this was a misogynistic attack on women or a racist attack on Asians. What if maybe it was both?” The founder of the Asian-American feminist blog tweeted. Reappropriate, Jenn Fang.

“I have experienced racism. I have experienced sexism. But I never experienced both as much as when I came to the United States,” he explained to the New York Times Sung Yeon Choimorrow, Executive Director of the National Forum of American Women of Asia Pacific. “Most of us did not sleep well the night of the shooting … because this was what we had feared for a long time. We were afraid that the objectification and hypersexualization of our bodies would lead us to death,” she added.

This problem is reflected in data from Stop AAPI Hate, which indicates that 68% of the incidents recorded were attacks on women.



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