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Asians stand against hate on anniversary of Atlanta shootings

Today marks the third anniversary of the Atlanta spa shootings in 2021, which took the lives of eight people, six of whom were Asian women.

Asian American organizers across the country are working to honor this day through events in cities such as San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York and Atlanta, said Justin Zhu, co-Founder of Stand with Asian Americans (SwAA), in an email to AsAmNews.

Zhu said the shootings anniversary have an “enormous significance” for the Asian American community since this made the community recognize that even today, especially since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the community can be “violently targeted for who we are.”

A recent survey, Zhu noted, found that in the span of 12 months, one out of every five Asian Americans in New York City had been physically assaulted because of their race. 

“This anniversary is both about remembering and honoring those who have been lost to hate, but also about coming together to fight for change for the future,” said Zhu to AsAmNews. “This is a crucial moment to shine a light on timely issues including voter engagement, workplace discrimination and mental health concerns that are critical to our community’s ability to thrive. We hope this anniversary will spark further progress.”

Events scattered across the country will feature a variety of Asian American leaders, activists, artists and community members addressing anti-Asian hate, mental health issues, multiracial solidarity and voter engagement, according to SwAA spokesperson Kayla Butler in an email to AsAmNews. 

These events, Butler added, gives hundreds of Asian Americans the chance to commemorate victims of hate and demand social advocacy through discrimination-focused workshops, musical and dance performances and community-based panels. 

Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus Chair Rep. Judy Chu said in a statement that honoring this day is important since this was a “targeted attack that was a direct result of the xenophobic, anti-Asian rhetoric that had proliferated at the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

“We cannot let another family or community be torn apart like this, and we must keep working to rebuild a sense of safety for AANHPIs and all Americans across the country,” said Chu in the statement. “I remain proud of my colleagues in Congress and the Biden-Harris Administration who came together to enact the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act in 2022 to better track and address these incidents. But I know our work to defeat hate is far from over. To honor the memory of the victims of this tragedy, I will continue to speak out against bigotry and xenophobia until our nation is a place where everyone feels safe.”

A joint statement by co-Chairs of the White House Initiative and President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islander noted that the Biden-Harris Administration continues to promote community-wide safety such as through its first-ever national strategy to advance equity, justice and opportunity for AAPI communities. 

The statement also mentioned the administration’s recent inaugural plan to combat gender-based violence as well as its first-ever White House Office of Gun Violence Prevention.

“As people of all faiths and backgrounds gather in Georgia to mark this somber anniversary, we are also reminded of the Atlanta community’s resilience and unbreakable spirit,” read the statement. “Our White House Initiative and President’s Advisory Commission have been honored to work collaboratively with the local community in Georgia to confront gender-based violence and anti-Asian bias, tackle the epidemic of gun violence, and ensure that hate has no safe harbor.”

Erika L. Moritsugu, deputy assistant to the President and Asian American Native Hawaiian & Pacific Islander Senior Liaison at The White House, said the Atlanta community and broader Asian American population has displayed “extraordinary resilience” since the events in 2021.

Moritsugu also noted the importance for this anniversary to honor victims of hate not as “faceless victims, but as whole people.” These events, she said, allow different communities to comfort one another and unite together as they work toward a safer future.

“Allies are important both inside and outside our own communities,” said Moritsugu in an email to AsAmNews. “Commemorations like these are an opportunity for all of us to rededicate to joining together to help our communities prevent, respond, and recover from acts of hateful violence. When we stand together, we show the world that we all have so much more in common than what separates us.”

Zhu explained these events, while an ample opportunity to take a united stance against Anti-Asian hate, should extend beyond just a day of social advocacy but rather be a topic discussed throughout the year.

“We hope this event serves as a reminder to Asian Americans and all Americans about the devastating consequences of hate, and a reminder that all of us must stand against it and take collective responsibility to prevent tragedy,” Zhu said to AsAmNews. “Our concerns and contributions must be given importance not just once or twice a year, during an anniversary or heritage month, but throughout, to ensure our safety and true belonging in the United States.

AsAmNews is published by the non-profit, Asian American Media Inc. Follow us on FacebookX, InstagramTikTok and YouTube. Please consider making a tax-deductible donation to support our efforts to produce diverse content about the AAPI communities. We are supported in part by funding provided by the State of California, administered by the California State Library in partnership with the California Department of Social Services and the California Commission on Asian and Pacific Islander American Affairs as part of the Stop the Hate program. To report a hate incident or hate crime and get support, go to CA vs Hate.


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