In response to the tragic shooting that happened in Atlanta this past week, hundreds gather in Levin Park for an Emergency Rally for Asian Solidarity.
By Naasir Qaz
“An injury to one is an injury to all.”
The event today was an Emergency Rally for Asian Solidarity organized by multiple racial justice groups, including the SEAD project and MIRAC. The crowd of hundreds was diverse; more so than we’ve seen in the past year. There was a noticeably heavier presence from the Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) community. This apparent infusion of AAPI faces was not lost on the speakers. One after another, members from the AAPI community lamented the lack of support that local Black Lives Matter movements received from the Asian community.
“Let’s be honest, there’s a lot of anti-Blackness in our communities” said Hao, one of the speakers at the event. He started his speech with a scream of frustration, emphasizing how members of the Asian community don’t usually get to be loud, flamboyant or chaotic; that they don’t get to be messy and make mistakes. They are trapped inside the prism of being the “model minority”.
This event was held in response to the tragic mass shooting that occurred in Atlanta, Georgia two days ago. This tragedy was the action of 21-year-old Justin Long who drove to three massage parlors in Atlanta where he shot and killed eight people, six of which were Asian women.
The police response was what really enraged members of the Asian American community. In a press conference, Sheriff spokesperson Jay Baker said that Long was simply “having a bad day.” It was that remark that demonstrators and protestors hung on to today. Various speakers addressed how the fetishization of Asian women through stereotypes and media portrayals have enabled the continued violence perpetrated against them.
“We have bad days too, but we don’t go around killing white people.”
One of the primary organizers of the march, Athena Yur, was quick to establish the link between childhood bullying and the stereotypes of meek and quiet “model minorities”. These perceptions have proven to be especially harmful for Asian women. The shootings in Georgia are just the latest example in a tragic trend of increasing violence against Asians in the United States. The actual data on hate crimes can be difficult to use and that’s for a few different reasons. The first is that the federal statistics on hate crimes won’t be published until at least the end of the year, and second is that cities and states define hate crimes in different ways.
However you may define the acts carried out by Robert Long on Wednesday, what seems clear, is that they were driven by hate. While authorities have yet to complete their investigation or provide a motive beyond a possible “sex addiction”, the local Asian community was loud and clear today --- that they will no longer tolerate hate.