Georgia. Eight people have been shot to death in three different massage parlors and spas last week on Tuesday evening, and six of them were women of Asian descent. After a year in which Anti-Asian hate crimes raised to historical figures, the crime have left in terror the asian-american communities.
A day after the shooting, the police arrested 21-year-old Robert Aaron Long, a white male, after his parents recognized him from a surveillance camera; he was charged with eight counts of murder. Long told the police that the crime was not racially motivated, and claimed to have a “sex addiction”; but this declarations were met with skepticism, given the fact that most of the women he killed were of Asian Descent.
For many Asian-Americans, the crime fueled fears against anti-Asian hatred that has been increasing in the last years. Many activists pointed towards former President Donald Trump for being responsible for (at least some) the hostilities the community receives. Trump, during the pandemic, used terms such as “China virus”, “Wuhan virus”, and “Kung flu” in reference to the coronavirus pandemic, that originated in Wuhan, China.
A report released by Stop Asian American and Pacific Islander Hate, said it counted 3.795 anti-Asian hate incidents between March 19, 2020 (a few weeks after the pandemic started) and February 28, 2021. At least 500 incidents were reported on 2021. 68% of the reports targeted women and involved harassment.
In a different survey, conducted by police departments in 16 major cities, the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at Cal State San Bernardino reported 122 anti-Asian hate crimes last year. The number was a 149% increase compared to 49 in 2019. New York, Los Angeles, Boston and Seattle had the highest number of hate crime in the last five years.
The history of anti-Asian racism goes all the way back to 1882, when the Chinese Exclusion Act was enforced. It was a legislation that prevented Asian American laborers from entering the USA, due to a widespread xenophobia. In history there has been times where the Asian community was blamed for different public health problems. For example, the smallpox outbreak in San Francisco in 1870, and we could even say the Coronavirus pandemic in 2020. The relation that many people made while connecting Asian with illness perpetrated the image of asian communities as “eternal foreigners”, never to be allowed to fully find inclusivity in society.
In the midst of the pandemic in 2020, the death of George Floyd in hands of a police officer in Minesota, marked a determing point in history. His death was the result of many issues that surround the American society, such as racism, inequality and discrimination. Black Lives Matter then came to be globally known, and inspired protests all around the globe.
After the attack of Tuesday, many activists of the Black Lives Matter movement, have shown their support towards the Asian-american community in Atlanta.
Said Malik Peay, an Atlanta resident, who is black and attended the spa where the killing was perpretated to show support. Many activist have shown their support too, such as Shaun King, an American writer and civil rights activist.
It is not a surprise that racism and inequality exists and continue to be a pressing issue in the Fashion Industry. According to The State of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion in Fashion Report, 27% of Asian employees in the Fashion Industry expressed that their race/ethnicity has had a negative impact on receiving raises and promotions. To read more about the report, check our previous article about it.
+ Words: Leila Salinas, Luxiders Magazine
Journalist | Berlin-based
Connect with her on LinkedIn or Instagram (@leisalinas)