Today, many Americans woke up to the news of a tragedy in Atlanta, where an alleged white supremacist shot and killed 8 people, 6 of whom were Asian women, in what was presumably an anti-Asian hate crime.
Once again, we have another city that joins the long list where white supremacists have murdered people solely for their identity — whether they’re Jewish, Black, Muslim, Sikh, LGBTQIA+, Hispanic or women.
Last night’s horrific and senseless shooting shows two disturbing, interconnected trends in our country: the rising threat of violent white supremacy, and the surge of violence against Asian Americans since the pandemic. These two things are inherently connected, as we witnessed President Donald Trump fan the flames of this bigotry by calling COVID the ‘China virus’ and ‘Kung Flu’, while telling white supremacists that he loved them and that they were ‘very special’.
As an Asian American myself, I am tired. My community is tired. We are tired of being told to keep our heads down. We are tired of racial slurs against us being normalized by everyone else around us. We are tired of being fetishized and of dangerous stereotypes perpetuated by the media and Hollywood. As a Marine Corps veteran, I’m a hero in uniform but a diseased bat-eater when out. However, this generation of Asian Americans is done being silent. We are done being invisible. And we are absolutely done with the Model Minority myth. We are speaking out, and we will be heard.
No words can bring back the lives of the 8 people killed in Atlanta. We cannot undo this damage. But we can continue to hold our leaders accountable. We can continue to unite together under a common banner of love, compassion, and justice. We can strive, every day, to fight back against these attacks on our communities. And we can send a loud, powerful, unmistakable message that our community of veterans and military families will stand together and refuse to back down. And that message will grow more and more powerful with you standing alongside us.
Yichen Yao, U.S. Marine Corps Veteran