Asian celebrities using their platforms to #StopAsianHate
On the night of March 16, an armed attacker targeted three separate massage parlors and day spas in Atlanta, Georgia. The assailant claimed eight lives that night, and six of the victims were Asian women. The perpetrator was caught and taken into custody before he could continue. It was then reported that the the attacker confessed that he had a “sex addiction” and tried to purge the “temptation” around him. To make matters worse, investigators claimed that it’s too early to rule the incident as racially charged.
Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms says that she was to take the statement of it not being racially motivated with a grain of salt. “This is a man who murdered eight people in cold blood. All of the victims in Atlanta were Asian…It is very difficult to ignore that the Asian community has once again been targeted, and it's happening all over the country,” she says in an interview with CNN.
This incident devastated the AAPI (Asian-American and Pacific Islanders) communities around the world. Famous personalities have taken to social media to denounce the grave act of violence against the community. They grieve for lives lost while calling out the holes in the reporting by the media and the police. But it's simple. Whether or not the police would categorize it as such, Asians would say that it is what it is:
A hate crime.
It'd be hard to consider this an isolated case. Ever since COVID-19 was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization, there has been a spike in anti-Asian crimes in the US and the UK. According to the coalition Stop AAPI Hate, they’ve received 3,795 complaints of anti-Asian hate incidents since March 2020 to February 2021. This also offers the possibility that the actual numbers could be even higher than reported.
Hate crimes are also said to be fueled by rhetoric of former US President Donald Trump calling it the Chinese virus or the kung flu. Manifestations of this continue to persist even after his term. Asians have unwillingly become scapegoats due to the pandemic, and he added salt to the wound. Asians in western countries live in fear of being attacked. Why? All because bigots figured they’re the cause of the pandemic due to their race.
But Asian-Americans aren’t going to take this sitting down. This generation and their families are taking matters into their own hands. They are amplifying the cries for protection of AAPI lives. They're stepping up and condemning Asian-American hate. On March 20, protests in different parts of America were held to decry racism against the community. Even Sandra Oh also made it a point to speak and appear in one.
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Meanwhile fashion watchdog Diet Prada is using their platform to open up topics often swept under the rug. They’re facilitating conversations about the long-standing racist depictions of Asians in mainstream media and the real life consequences that endangers Asian-Americans everyday. 88rising has also made it a point to proactively uplift the AAPI community by giving back and rallying for the cause, whether it's through social responsibility efforts or art.
If there’s anything we can learn from this, it's that protests and online signal boosts should go hand-in-hand with on-ground efforts. It’s through these efforts that communities can begin to take down long-standing, toxic and dangerous notions in societies.
The campaign against discrimination and hate is a long one, winding way back to the early movements against segregation and women’s suffrage. But with tireless persuasion and continuous groundwork, we can continue to go against the current in making sure that we shift into a world where it’s no longer the norm.
Art Matthew Ian Fetalver