It feels like it was just yesterday when our Editorial Board wrote an opinion condemning silence when injustice, in any capacity, takes place against marginalized communities. That editorial was written in response to the killing of George Floyd and the protests across the nation, including our local community. 10 months later, we find ourselves deeply saddened by the recent spa shootings in Atlanta, which resulted in the deaths of eight people, six of whom were women of Asian descent.
Since the March 16 killings, we have witnessed it all. Law enforcement has come out and publicly stated that the shooting suspect was just having “a really bad day.” The suspect told officers that he committed those vicious acts to fight his sexual addiction. Asian communities, subject to a history of racism and xenophobia in this country only enhanced by the COVID-19 pandemic, are in pain.
As we made clear in late May, we believe silence is compliance. We stand with those directly impacted by the massacre in Atlanta. Further, we condemn the hateful actions, rhetoric and white supremacy that led to them — actions that continue to place Asian communities in danger.
A report released by Stop AAPI Hate, a national non-profit organization that tracks hateful and discriminatory actions toward Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, reveals that from March 2020 to February 2021, nearly 4,000 incidents were reported. The number only represents “a fraction of the number of hate incidents that actually occur.”
Time and time again, when white supremacy is involved, we witness differences in how people of different races and ethnicities are treated. The Atlanta shooting suspect was just having a bad day, while people of color are portrayed as the problem. Law enforcement rushes to judgment on a person of color’s character, while officials are still trying to determine if the Atlanta massacre was motivated by race — a hate crime.
This country’s understanding of race dynamics, or lack thereof, contributes to the issues that plague our communities every day. Make no mistake: The Atlanta shootings were hate crimes.
The shooting suspect believed going to the spas and eliminating “the problem” — women of Asian descent — would allow him to overcome his sexual addiction. His actions ended the lives of six Asian women while also inflicting emotional harm on Asian communities across the globe.
Racism is racism, no matter if one is conscious of it or not. But, of course, there is no self-responsibility when white supremacy is involved. Communities of color continue to suffer from the selfish, negative inclinations and habits created by their racial counterparts.
An Asian-owned restaurant in San Antonio was recently vandalized after the owner publicly condemned Gov. Greg Abbott’s Executive Order to end the state’s mask mandate. Hateful messages, such as “Go back 2 China,” were spray-painted on the property.
Women’s Golf Head Coach Par Nilsson told The University Star last year, at the onset of the pandemic, that Asian players on the team received racist comments on airplanes, during tournaments and in restaurants.
The bigger issue, which those who spread hate disregard, is willful ignorance and the politicization of human decency. Instead of blaming themselves for their and others’ irresponsibility that lead us to crises like we are experiencing now, they take their frustrations out and place blame on the people who break their backs to improve the conditions of our communities. Racism and white supremacy at their finest.
Our Editorial Board understands that there is much work ahead when it comes to coverage of our local Asian community and all that it contributes to our city and university. We are disappointed that it too often takes a tragedy for newsrooms, including ours, to step outside our comfort zones and hold a consistent presence in territories that feel unfamiliar — connect with people and establishments we too often do not communicate with. But, holding ourselves to the standards we set at the beginning of this school year when taking on projects like The 11% and beyond, we plan to do the work.
Members of our community are hurting. Instead of trying to justify why racism and white supremacy exists, we all should do the work to understand their complexities and find solutions to combat them. This is not the time to focus on ourselves and disregard the livelihood of the communities negatively impacted. That is what placed us here, to begin with.