Re: “Spa shooting victims ID’d as Biden, Harris head to Atlanta” [March 19, Nation]:
I am a lifelong Seattleite, Asian-American and American grieving this loss.
Following the deadly attacks in Atlanta, the word “parlor” has been widely used to describe Asian massage businesses. Why are they not salons, or spas, or businesses that offer massage?
“Parlor” has become common parlance to describe a place for adult entertainment. Is that what these were? And does it matter? Or is it possible that we reflexively use this word because the victims are Asian?
If multiple Aveda spas had been targeted in a string of murders, would we refer to them as parlors? Would we have grieved more, or differently, for the lives lost?
Some have been quick to assert that it’s unclear whether these murders were racially motivated, despite the fact that every targeted business was Asian! Yet, many have in the same breath been equally quick to assert pejorative and racially biased language into the narrative, describing these Asian businesses as “parlors” — a word that clearly gives the unsavory connotation of sex work.
Let’s all of us not call them parlors. When we ask each other what we can do to help, let’s in addition to kindness and care offer words that do better.
Laurie Eckardt, Seattle