It’s infuriating to see new cases of Asian hate crimes trending every day. It’s depressing, exhausting, and makes me feel so defeated as an Asian American. Especially since most of these hate crimes are targeting the elderly, it makes me feel a sense of panic, knowing that my family could very well be in danger just being out in public. It’s a shame to see Asians being targeted in San Francisco, an area that is no stranger to large Asian populations. Seeing new surveillance videos of elderly Asians being attacked in San Francisco, Daly City, Oakland, makes me fear for my community, and the Asian community as a whole. However, more and more violent cases against young Asian women are popping up, and it’s really making people apprehensive. No one is off limits, and it is really hitting way too close to home.
Just this week alone, the Asian community has endured so much fear, pain, and loss. Especially seeing the mass shooting that took place on Tuesday, March 16, 2021, in Atlanta that left 8 people dead – 6 of them being Asian. The murderer claims that he targeted these spas because he’s a sex addict and wanted to take out these places he believed were temptations. Sexual frustration is no excuse to go around killing innocent people, and the public finds it hard to believe that this was not a targeted hate crime. If you go into Asian spas, you will expect to find Asian workers. According to leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/ a hate crime is defined as:
“Hate crime” means a criminal act committed, in whole or in part, because of one or more of the following actual or perceived characteristics of the victim:
(4) Race or ethnicity.
(6) Sexual orientation.
(7) Association with a person or group with one or more of these actual or perceived characteristics.
The public is outraged that this crime is still being investigated, and isn’t publically and officially declared as a hate crime yet. 6 of the 8 victims were Asian women. The murderer targeted Asian spas, and it didn’t take the public long to put 2 and 2 together to see that this man was targeting Asian workers. I refuse to use the killer’s name and give him more public attention than he is already getting. In these kinds of tragedies, the killer usually gets more recognition than the victims and the deceased. The murderer’s name is plastered in every news story, on TV, and is being talked about constantly. It seems as though the killers get more attention and coverage than the lives they are responsible for taking away. He wrongfully took the lives of:
Suncha Kim, 69
Hyun Jung Grant, 51
Soon Chung Park, 74
Yong Ae Yue, 63
Xiaojie Tan, 49
Daoyou Feng, 44
Delaina Yaun, 33
Paul Andre Michels, 54
And I refuse to make this low-life’s name be known more than the actual victims. The murderer targeted spas because he claimed to be a “sex addict,” proving once again that society’s view on Asian women is hypersexualized. Being labeled “exotic” is fetishsizing Asian women, and is dehumanizing. Fetishsizing Asian women makes people think that Asian women must be submissive, that they can have access to their bodies, and any sexual advances are welcomed. Some bring up that massage parlors do have a reputation of having sex workers. To me, that is a deflection to take away from the bigger issue at hand. Regardless of the reputations that some massage spas have, it doesn’t excuse the actions of the killer.
What added salt to the wounds of the Asian community was when Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office, Capt. Jay Baker, went on television the next day and stated:
“He was pretty much fed up and kind of at the end of his rope. Yesterday was a really bad day for him and this is what he did.”-Jay Baker
It’s this downplayed narrative that enrages the Asian community. Even something as blatant as a mass shooting – a hate crime that left 8 people dead – the Asian community still has to prove why it’s not excusable, not just someone having a “bad day,” and make a ruckus about law enforcement publicly sympathizing with the killer. The Asian community is pleading with law enforcement to see this for what it is – a hate crime. Being a sex addict, being at the end of your rope, and “having a bad day,” shouldn’t be an excuse that results in targeting certain businesses ran by a certain race of people. Being sexually frustrated should never end in 8 people losing their lives. The Asian community is tired of proving our suffering, tired of trying to get others to see our oppression and mistreatment, and we are tired of people of power downplaying our pain and experiences. The Asian community is outraged, scared, and fed up.
A racist Facebook post of Capt. Jay Baker surfaced after his statement. In this post, Baker was advertising shirts that stated “COVID-19, imported virus from Chy-na,” saying that these products were selling fast. The internet works fast, and when people discovered that Baker had previously posted anti-Asian content, they were not surprised with his statements. Instead of saying the murderer’s actions were horrible and never should’ve happened, it sounded like he was making excuses for the killer and downplaying his actions. A bad day doesn’t result in 8 people dead for no reason. Families and friends shouldn’t be without their loved ones because someone is having a bad day and is sex deprived. Those excuses are not valid nor acceptable. It’s an insult to the families of the deceased and a slap in the face to the Asian community.
With so many attacks caught on camera, and now the mass shooting in Atlanta where Asian workers were targeted, the Asian community is terrified of what’s to come next. Asians are begining to realize that staying silent is not the way. We as a community have been ignored and been labeled insignificant for too long. We’re speaking out, bringing awareness, and banding together. That might be the only bright side that is coming out of all these violent acts of hate. Some are taking this time to learn the history of certain Asian groups and their part in American history. Just because Asian American history isn’t taught in schools, doesn’t mean we didn’t play a significant role.
It’s time to relearn our history, but also time to make history.