Call it What it Was: A Hate Crime


By Victoria Sananikone, Editor In Chief

Photos from Victoria Sananikone, Rappler, Chicago Tribune, The Economist

Let’s talk about what happened in Georgia on the night of March 16. On Tuesday night, eight people were shot and killed by a white man named Robert Aaron Long. He targeted three spas that were located in Woodstock and Atlanta: Young’s Asian Massage, Gold Massage Spa, and Aroma Therapy Spa. Six of the eight victims that were killed were Asian and only one of them was male. Their names were Delaina Ashley Yuan, Paul Andre Michels, Xiaojie Yan, Julie Park, Park Hyeon Jeong, and two other names that have not yet been released.

Woojin Kang, 27, a priest, cries at the makeshift memorial outside Gold Spa near Acworth, Ga., on Thursday, March 18, 2021, one of three massage businesses where eight people were killed and another injured by a shooter on Tuesday.

The BLM movement has always been at the forefront of our news because the world needed to know the ways in which black people have been discriminated against throughout history and in today’s society. Change still needs to happen. While we continue to stand with the black community, we must also shift our focus to the Asian community whose own racial oppression is often dismissed by the media. 

Since the start of COVID-19, there have been 3,800 reports of discrimination acts against the Asian community. I remember seeing a video of an old Asian man getting harassed by a group of people as he was walking home. His face was contorted in terror as he attempted to run past the individuals who continued to block his way while threatening him with jeers. I read about people actively avoiding contact with Asian individuals in fear of contracting the virus. I saw on the news that Asian men and women—who were minding their own business—have been beaten by people who think the virus is their fault.

A man assaults an Asian woman waiting in line outside a bakery in Queens, NC.

Racism has always threatened the Asian community, but it intensified after the outbreak of COVID-19 due to beliefs that Chinese people started it by eating bats and spreading it to the world. While China may have been the country where the virus appeared, it does not excuse any acts of hate towards the community. Former President Donald Trump’s continuous use of the phrase “the Chinese virus” only inflamed this hate.

A quote from one of his rallies in Tulsa, OK: “By the way, it’s a disease–without question–that has more names than any disease in history. I can name… Kung flu… I can name 19 different versions of names.”

“Kung Flu.” How creative. Trump has such an eloquent way with words, wouldn’t you say?

Robert Long told authorities that he blamed his act of terrorism on the fact that the massage businesses fueled his sex addiction and that it was “a temptation he wanted to eliminate.” Are you actually kidding me? Ladies and gentlemen, please read that again. One man’s shortcomings justified him to take the lives of eight people. No, I don’t believe that was his motivation. This was a blatant, despicable act of hate—fueled by racism. Let’s not forget the audacity of one of the captains in the Cherokee County sheriff’s department claiming that Long’s actions were a result of him having “a really bad day.” When I have a bad day you don’t see me or any of my friends shooting up an establishment. I guess that comes with being a sane human being.

It’s truly sickening to see an act of terrorism done to people that you identify with. I am of Thai and Laotian descent, and I have always been so proud to be Asian, as one should be with their own race. But there is a part of me that’s scared. I’m scared that I may one day be targeted. I’m scared that my immigrant father may one day be targeted–that my uncles, my cousins, and all of my Asian friends will one day be at the wrong place at the wrong time. It blows my mind how some people are so hateful to a race whose food they obsess over and whose culture fascinates them to the extent of appropriation.

My father, Oudone Sananikone, was born in Laos and transitioned to Thailand as a refugee. Later, his family immigrated to America.

Why are we just now focusing on the Asian community? We should be advocating for them daily, supporting them in the same manner we do the black community. Don’t just repost something on social media to show your support; start a conversation, volunteer, and donate to an Asian-supporting organization. Extinguish any acts of racism that you witness and report them to a higher authority. Our world has a long way to go in the fight to eradicate racism, but you can start today.

Donate or volunteer here:

https://www.advancingjustice-atlanta.org/

https://www.sendchinatownlove.com/ways-to-donate.html

https://givebutter.com/enoughisenough

One thought on “Call it What it Was: A Hate Crime

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  1. Thank you for this post. I have a sister who is Chinese, and not knowing how this is affecting her and my nephews, nor knowing how I can help … I just really appreciate seeing this here at McKendree.

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