We are outraged and deeply saddened by the massacre of the eight people in Atlanta. We give our love, support and deep condolences to the victims and their families. We grieve for their loss and for the violence surging against Asian American Pacific Islander communities, especially women, who make up 70% of those victimized in the 3,800 hate crimes reported between March 1, 2020, and Feb. 28, 2021.
We are immigrant Asian American women who grew up in this society. We personally know the damaging, and all too often deadly, impact of stereotypes. Imaged variously and repeatedly as sexual temptresses, exotic, dragon ladies, servile domestics, or wartime prostitutes, we are consistently portrayed as subservient and secondary objects. Accordingly, we are disgusted by the spokesperson for the Cherokee County Sheriff who fed into these delusional fantasies by dismissing the identities and fate of the victims and focusing only on the perspective of the white suspect and his “bad day.” When did having a “bad day” become a license to murder others? For the spokesperson, the deaths of Xiaojie Tan, Daoyou Feng, Delaina Yaun Gonzalez, Paul Andre Michels, Soon C. Park, Hyun J. Grant, Suncha Kim and Yong A. Yue, were either the suspect’s “temptations,” his objects or simply expendable.
And why do some question whether this was a “hate crime?” The alleged perpetrator killed people at one Asian salon, then drove 27 miles to kill more people at two other Asian-owned salons. It is obvious he targeted Asian businesses and Asian women because of his racist “fetish.” These are not coincidences, they are hate crimes.
This is not an isolated occurrence. There is always violence toward AAPI, but these crimes do not receive media coverage because we are portrayed as “model minorities” who “do not have problems” and are “subservient” to white persons. Recall how in 2011-2012, Seattle attorney Danford Grant raped and stalked Asian American massage spa workers. The media, at that time, portrayed the women as prostitutes and presented Grant as their “victim.”
Then there is the notorious Beacon Hill groper (2008-2013), who was apprehended but has never been prosecuted. Then there are the murders of Susana Remerata Blackwell, Phoebe Dizon and Veronica Laureta, which some people diminished because Blackwell was a “mail-order bride.”
Emma Catague, one of the founding mothers for API Family and Safety Center (now API Chaya), worked with the Filipino American community to organize a vigil to mark the violence against Asian women. As Emma recalled, the annual vigil held in front of the King County Courthouse, “galvanized a movement about the issues confronting Asian women.”
King County staffer and community leader Cindy Domingo had worked in the courthouse for decades, and regularly passed a memorial for the women killed by Blackwell’s former abusive spouse. Cindy was instrumental in working to provide resources and emphasized “the role of government in the fight against gender violence.” This annual vigil, while more visible, is a reminder that, while too many women experience harassment on a daily basis, AAPI women have the additional burden of being objectified by institutional and individual racist fantasies that fuel tragedies such as those in Atlanta.
Enough with excuses. Enough with harassment. Enough with objectifying women. Enough with violence against women and AAPI. Enough of domestic terrorism against women and Black, Indigenous and people of color. Enough with hate crimes. Enough with white supremacy. We stand in solidarity with others demanding justice.
We encourage people from all communities to join the vigils, rallies and/or marches being planned by our AAPI communities. Notably, API Chaya’s Outreach Project is coordinating a vigil at 9:30 a.m. Monday, March 22, at Hing Hay Park in the Chinatown International District neighborhood of downtown Seattle to honor the lives lost in Atlanta, and all those impacted by anti-Asian violence. Join us and stand up against hatred, misogyny and violence.
- If you are a victim of a hate crime, you can make a report online: stopaapihate.org, aapihatecrimes.org and standagainsthatred.org.
- If you’d like to learn more about how to respond to hate crimes, see OCA — Asian Pacific American Advocates’ COVID-19 Toolkit, Responding to Hate Crimes Community Action Guide and Hate Incident Reporting website.
- Locally, API Chaya is one of the leaders in the nonprofit, anti-violence movement in highlighting the intersections of gender-based violence and state violence. API Chaya’s helpline number is 877-922-4292. Advocates will be accessible in the languages you speak.
The Seattle Times occasionally closes comments on particularly sensitive stories. If you would like to share your thoughts or experiences in relation to this story, please submit a letter to be considered for publication in our Opinion section. You can read more about our community policies here.