Eight people were killed in a series of shootings at massage parlors in the Atlanta area on Tuesday, including six Asian women, raising concerns that the crimes were racially motivated. While police are still investigating a connection and motivation, the attacks shook the Asian American and Pacific Islander community, which has been targeted in a surge of hate crimes. 

Online, the hashtags “#AsianLivesMatter,” modeled after the Black Lives Matter movement, and variations of “#StopAsianHate” were trending as many members of the community spoke out against racism. Other people of color, including Black activists, joined them in solidarity against white supremacist rhetoric that has spiked in the last year.


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“This latest attack will only exacerbate the fear and pain that the Asian American community continues to endure,” said Stop AAPI Hate, a coalition tracking and fighting anti-Asian hate and discrimination, in a statement that went on to say, “Not enough has been done to protect Asian Americans from heightened levels of hate, discrimination and violence. Concrete action must be taken now. Anything else is unacceptable.”


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There were 3,800 anti-Asian racist incidents in the last year, mostly against women, who are the target of a combined racism and sexism that objectifies the “model minority.” The attacks have not let up as hate crimes hit record levels, prompting President Biden to sign an executive memorandum last month acknowledging that “inflammatory and xenophobic rhetoric has put Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) persons, families, communities, and businesses at risk.”

Both during his tenure and since, former President Trump has used derogatory language to blame China and the Chinese for the coronavirus pandemic without evidence, calling it the “Chinese virus” and “Kung Flu.” Experts have drawn a link between the start of the coronavirus pandemic and the increase in harmful actions against Asian Americans, but some online pointed out that the history goes further back. 

 

From the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, the first and only law in American history banning a specific ethnic group from immigrating to the United States, to Japanese Concentration Camps, anti-Asian discrimination has been present throughout American history. Even as Asian Americans were granted rights, their status as a model minority — used to divide them from other minority groups — hasn’t protected them from hate crimes and even killings. Asian women, who are exoticized and fetishized in racist and sexist stereotypes, are most often the targets of this violence. Last night in Atlanta, there were six of them.  


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