I Am An American: #StopAAPIHate

Note: Due to the on-going investigation,
I will continue to update this blog as new developments are reported.

March 18, 2021
Last Updated: March 19, 2021

When I saw what happened in Atlanta on the news, I had this déjà vu-mix of emotions, the same feelings I experienced when I saw the video of a police officer killing George Floyd; when I read about the police shooting that killed Breonna Taylor. You get the picture. I was not sure if I should cry or scream. (I did a combination of both throughout the day.)

To hear that eight people, including six Asian women, died at the hands of a white man because he has a “sex addiction” (which I believe to be a bullshit reason) is atrocious. That not only says to me, “I targeted them because they were Asian,” but also, “I targeted them because they were women, and Asian women are easy, and they must be stopped.” The stereotype that “all Asian women are ‘easy’ and subservient” is racist and misogynistic.

Most people may have read or heard by now that these businesses the suspect targeted were massage parlors, an industry that has had a history of concerns surrounding sex trafficking. I also read that he had frequented at least two of the three places before he decided to shoot them up. As far as I can tell, it has not been reported whether or not any of these places posed as a front and conducted that kind of business. In a New York Times article (linked above), it reads:

Atlanta’s mayor, Keisha Lance Bottoms, stressed that the Atlanta Police Department had not had any calls to the two spas in her city where the shootings occurred on Tuesday.

“We are not about to get into victim-blaming, victim-shaming here,” she said. “And as far as we know in Atlanta, these are legally operating businesses that have not been on our radar, not on the radar of A.P.D.”

“The killings targeted an industry with a history of concerns about sex trafficking”
New York Times, March 18, 2021

Is it possible that these businesses were fronts for prostitution? Sure, but that does not give anyone the right nor the permission to kill eight people! The suspect used his “sex addiction” as an excuse to kill these people. He knew these businesses were Asian-owned and/or run by Asian women and saw his opportunity. Some reports I read say that witnesses at Gold Spa heard the suspect shout, “I’m going to kill all the Asians.” This is an on-going investigation, but I know one thing for sure: this is a hate crime.

When I heard the sheriff spokesman’s statement about how the shooter was having “a really bad day” and “this is what he did,” my anger and frustration intensified. Clearly, this statement says to me, “When a white man is having a bad day, it is OK for him to go shoot a bunch of people, no matter the cause.” It also came as no surprise when it was revealed that this sheriff spokesman had made racist posts on his social media accounts in the past. It is people like him who are part of this problem with hate.

While I was scrolling through Twitter on Wednesday, I could not help but feel helpless. Sure, I posted Tweets about how upset I was, how broken this country is, how unsafe it is to be an Asian American (and to be a woman) in this country full of racism, misogyny, and hate. Of course, I also retweeted posts made by other Asian Americans, mostly celebrities with larger platforms than mine. But even with all that “yelling into the void,” I felt that I had no impact, no voice. I thought to myself, “How can I make a difference when I am just me?”

In my personal experience, I have not witnessed nor been a victim of a hate crime, and I pray I never do. But the fear and anxiety that has accumulated in my psyche from reading and hearing about these hate crimes is real and it is paralyzing. I am fortunate enough to live in an area where I feel safe and where these kinds of events do not occur – if not very often, then never – but the possibility of it happening anytime, anywhere by anyone is enough to make me hyper-sensitive and super-aware of my surroundings.

After talking to a few of my friends, I realized that I just need to speak up and speak out on my own platform, no matter how small; share my experiences, my opinion, and a number of reliable sources to make even the slightest difference. Hence, this blog post.

I Am An American!

Throughout my life, I have experienced racism and sexism. (I will have a separate blog post that goes more in-depth about my experiences.) But for many years, I never really thought of myself as an “Asian American”. I just thought of myself as an American; I am an American citizen, I live in America. What about me is not American? What gives anyone the right to treat me like “an other”? I love this country just as much as any other American. Why must I be seen as “an other”?

I cannot imagine the pain the families of these victims are going through nor the painful realization that many Asian parents with young children have to explain what has happened and why. How do you explain to a child that the country they were born in, grew up in, the country they know and love hates them because of what they look like?

How do you explain to a child what white supremacy is? How do you explain what racism and sexism is to a child? How do you explain to a child why white supremacist groups commit hate crimes because of the color of one’s skin? because of one’s country of origin? because of one’s gender identity and/or sexual orientation? because of the hateful rhetoric that surrounds one’s community?

I am angry because these hate crimes, this violence has to stop. I am frustrated because I feel like my voice won’t make a difference, won’t be heard. I am upset and I am scared because who knows when and where this will happen next. I mean, God forbid it ever happens again, but with the amount of hate that has been boiling under the surface of our society for so long, it is bound to happen again. I am worried because I have so many friends, know so many business owners, teachers and professors, neighbors that are Asian American. I fear for their safety and their lives, as well as my own.

We are Americans! America is supposed to be the country where “all men are created equal.” We have all come to this country to achieve one goal: the American dream. But why must we, the non-white folk, face such hate, such violence, such racist rhetoric, sexist rage, when all we want is to be accepted and strive for our American dream?

The United States of…Hate

Over the past several years, I have been hearing too much about hate and the violence that accompanies it. There is no doubt in my mind that the harmful rhetoric that was created and used by the former president was the gasoline, the match, and the fan that stoked the flames, giving white supremacists and other white nationalist organizations the platform and the encouragement they needed to commit these heinous acts. I mean, they rioted and attempted a coup at The Capitol on January 6. If that does not give anyone an idea of the amount of hate this country is dealing with right now, I do not know what will.

Racism, misogyny, and hate are nothing new in this country; all have been deeply rooted in America for generations. It is only within the last few years that many of these closeted racists, sexists, and hate-driven groups have been emboldened to act on their hate. After comments like the “Chinese virus” and “Kung flu,” it is no surprise that anti-Asian attacks, verbal and physical, have significantly increased over the last year. In New York City alone, the NYPD reported a 1,900% spike in hate crimes motivated by anti-Asian sentiment.

A Call for Strict Gun Control

As I was scrolling Twitter to see if there were any further developments, I saw a headline and thread from NowThis News: “Georgia spa shooter purchased gun on same day of killing spree”. In the thread, I read, “Georgia is one of 40 states that does not have a waiting period when purchasing a firearm.” That is sickening and unnecessary! The fact that, in forty states, someone can walk into a gun shop and walk out with a gun they purchased that same day… Is that not insane? Seriously. Is that not a concern to anyone?

According to Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, states with waiting periods (between purchasing a gun and taking it home) can potentially reduce gun homicide deaths by about seventeen percent. The organization also says:

“By delaying immediate access to firearms, waiting periods create an important ‘cooling off’ period that can help prevent impulsive acts of gun violence, including gun homicides and suicides.”

“Georgia spa shooter purchased gun on the same day of killing spree”
NowThis News, March 18, 2021

I know Americans are crazy about their second amendment, but we need stricter gun control! We need strict laws nationwide so that shootings like these can be prevented. From thorough background checks to mental health examinations to waiting periods, all states should make it less convenient for people, like the suspect in this case, to purchase a firearm. It is unfathomable that anyone can purchase a gun and take that gun home with them that same day. It is unneeded, and with strict laws in place, this shooting spree (among many others) could have been easily prevented.

Taking a Stand

In order to eradicate this malice, we need to educate our future generations, teach them how to identify racism and sexism, show them how to fight against it; give them the tools, the knowledge, and introduce them to the communities that will help them become more accepting, or at least more tolerant, of others. We must unite and fight to overcome this hate, this violence.

In reaction to these crimes, lawmakers and organizations are demanding justice, change, and action against hate. With overwhelming support, I know these lawmakers and organizations will have an impact on building a better future.

If you want to speak out or simply become more aware of what’s going on, research and find an organization you want to support, find out about the latest protests and movements that are being carried out, use their supporting hashtags on social media, and if you can, donate to their cause. Because these movements, like Black Lives Matter, Stop AAPI Hate, and Human Rights Campaign, will create a less hate-filled tomorrow for ourselves and for generations to come.


I want to thank everyone who speaks out against the hate, using your platforms to build awareness and take action. Thank you to all of the organizations who support the victims of hate crimes and push to create anti-hate movements. And thank you to all my friends for supporting me, my community, and my voice. It means so much to me to know that I have people who love me and stand with me.


To read: learn how to support Atlanta’s Asian American community

Published by Georgia Iris Salvaryn

Writing Arts graduate student

2 thoughts on “I Am An American: #StopAAPIHate

  1. Hey thanks for sharing your story. I understood how you felt.
    One thing that annoys me is that every minority group (except for caucasians) are called asian american/african american/even hispanic american. As you said, why can’t they just be american? What makes them not as American as a Caucasian? I never liked the term Asian American or African American. Unless you are personally from Asia or Africa, and then later become naturalized, you are American. Just American. This one thing here is one of the many ways that minority groups are set apart from Caucasians.

    Like

    1. Yes, I definitely agree with that notion. But I also understand that some people might like that separation to, I guess in a way, pay homage to their motherland.

      Like

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