By Aditi Shukla
On March 16, a white gunman targeted three Atlanta-area massage businesses and killed eight people, seven of the victims being women and six being Asian American. That night, many Asian Americans took to all forms of social media to express outcry, and the hashtag #StopAsianHate was trending on Twitter.
What brought even more anger to the masses was the fact that the suspect, 21-year-old Robert Aaron Long, wasn’t immediately charged with hate crimes because the suspect claimed he targeted the places because of a sex addiction, even though six of the eight victims were of Asian descent.
The shooting in the Atlanta-area is an example of the many anti-Asian hate crimes that have surged across the country. On a Saturday evening in March of 2020, when COVID-19 first wreaked havoc on the nation, Bawi Cung was looking to purchase rice. Then suddenly, a man punched Cung in the back of his head and cut his face with a knife. The man left, but came back to stab the boys. He stabbed the 3-year-old in the back and slashed the 6-year-old from his right eye to a couple of inches past his right ear. An off-duty Border Patrol agent, Zach Owens, intervened and stopped the man. According to the FBI, the assailant thought that the family was Chinese, and that by being in public, they were spreading the virus.
Now, almost a year later, Cung and his two sons have many scars. Cung said this has sparked a fear in his family, whether it was not being able to walk freely in a grocery store or his son not being able to sleep alone.
In April, Kelly Yang and her children were walking in the park in Richmond, California, when an older white couple came up to Yang and said, “Go back where you came from.” Yang had to explain to her children what that phrase meant, something she thought she wouldn’t have to do for many years. Her children started crying.
Douglas Kim, the owner of Jeju Noodle Bar in New York City, had his Michelin-starred restaurant vandalized, with someone scribbling on the walls “stop eating dogs,” a stereotype.
Yang said she is glad President Joe Biden is planning to combat anti-Asian racism. Kim said that he hopes education will improve to the point that no one refers to the stereotypes that were targeted at him.
Recently, in the past two months, many crimes of attacks on older Asian Americans have called for more attention from politicians and the media. California Governor Gavin Newsom allocated $1.4 million to Stop Asian American Pacific Islanders (AAPI) Hate and the UCLA Asian American Studies Center. Many celebrities and well-known figures are also bringing awareness to the issue.