2021 Atlanta spa shooting sparks debate over racism towards Asian community in US one year after Robert Aaron Long shooting

CHICAGO (WLS) — A year ago on Wednesday, eight people, including six Asian Americans, were killed at three Atlanta-area spas.

The deadly shootings drew attention to a wave of hate crimes targeting Asian Americans, especially women.

A year later, many Asian American women still say they still don’t feel safe.

Anti-Asian violence has been widely reported since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, but some Chicago-area Asian Americans say the crime against their people is nothing new.

“I know it’s easy to confuse it with everything happening with COVID and hate crimes related to COVID, but for me, this incident could have happened outside of the pandemic,” Sung Yeon said. Choimorrow, executive director of the National Asian Pacific. American Women’s Forum.

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Choimorrow said Asian women have been objectified for centuries in this country.

“A lot of us, even though we experienced some level of racialized sexual harassment, no one thought something like this could happen,” she added.

Last weekend, dozens of people gathered in Horner Park in Chicago’s North End to remember the victims.

Grace Pai is the Executive Director of Asian Americans Advancing Justice Chicago. She said that for many Asian American women, the Atlanta tragedy is a call to action. Many have started sharing their stories and pressuring their elected officials to take action.

“There’s a lot of fear in the Asian community and in the immigrant community not to talk about the things you’ve been through,” Pai said. “So now that we’re starting to see more public accounts, and more people are speaking up.”

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According to a National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum survey of over 2,400 AAPI women across the country, 74% said they had experienced racism and/or discrimination in the past 12 months, 38% said they had been victims of sexual harassment and 12% said they had been victims of gender and/or race-based physical violence.

Choimorrow said the police are not the solution.

“In order for Asian American women to start feeling safe again, we need to make sure that the people who look at me, who I pass on the street, see me as a human being and not as someone they can objectify,” Choimorrow said. noted.

Last spring, Governor JB Pritzker signed a bill making Illinois the first state to require Asian American history to be taught in public schools.

“So this is something that we hope will have a very broad impact, right and ensuring that students of all ages, whether or not they identify as Asian Americans, learn the history of Asian Americans, learn that Asian Americans are not an ‘other,’ that we are not perpetual strangers, that we are Americans, that we are a big part of history American,” Pai said.

Activists also pushed for the first-ever majority Asian neighborhood that would include Chicago’s Chinatown and Bridgeport.

“Just having people in the office who have the same lived experiences, who know what it’s like to have to walk into the dark alone as an Asian woman, to understand the intersection of racism and misogyny – I think it’s something you, it’s hard to identify with if you don’t identify yourself that way,” Pai said.

Although Chicago hasn’t seen attacks on Asian American women as violent as those reported in New York or the Bay Area, Choimorrow said the safety concerns of Asian American women in this city should be taken seriously.

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