A year after the fatal shootings at three Georgia massage businesses, crowds gathered at rallies across the country last week to remember the victims and denounce anti-Asian violence that has risen sharply in recent years.
Six women of Asian descent were among the eight people killed in and near Atlanta on March 16, 2021. The slayings contributed to fear and anger among Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs) and motivated many to join the fight against the rising hostility.
At the Atlanta Asian Justice rally, which drew some 100 people, speakers railed against the stereotypes of Asian women as either docile or exotic and said those harmful perceptions contribute to the violence.
Stop AAPI Hate has been tracking incidents nationwide based on victims’ self-reporting. From March 19, 2020, through the end of last year, it recorded a total of 10,905, with 4,632 occurring in 2020 and 6,273 in 2021. Women reported 61.8% of the incidents.
Earlier this month, a Black man used an anti-Asian slur before punching a 67-year-old Asian woman in an apartment building vestibule in Yonkers, New York, more than 125 times, police said. Also this month, a 28-year-old white man was charged with hate crimes after police said he randomly punched seven women of Asian ethnicity over two hours.
Prejudice and discrimination against AAPIs in the U.S. are not new, but racist verbal and physical attacks increased sharply after the coronavirus first appeared in China just over two years ago, with former President Donald Trump’s use of racial terms to talk about the virus contributing to the trend.
Asian women tend to be perceived as submissive and easier targets, less likely to fight back. That stereotype and realities of how gender bias and racism works has created an environment where Asian American women are disproportionately being targeted.
An NPR poll last October found that one in four Asian Americans feared—in the past few months—that members of their household would be attacked or threatened because of their race or ethnicity.
We need our safety back.
How much longer must we live in fear that we will be attacked because of the color of our skin, the way we look? We are not foreigners. We are Americans like the rest of the Americans who live and work in this country.
When do we get our life, our liberty, and the pursuit of happiness freely?