Vincent Chin was beaten to death in Detroit in June 1982, by two white auto workers who reportedly said it was because of him that they had lost their jobs. At the time, listeners may recall, Japan was being widely blamed for the collapse of the Detroit auto industry. Chin was Chinese-American. Elite media, as reflected by the New York Times, didn’t seem to come around to the story until April 1983, with reporting on the protests emanating from Detroit’s Asian-American community about the dismissive legal response to the murder.
Atrocities targeting people and bodies we identify as our own tend to incite powerful feelings of exception. A shared sense of singular vulnerability and violation circulates virally, and the epidemiology of toxic intimacy with violence is simultaneously social and personal. The sheer quantity of casualties matters less than the bare fact of unexpected cruelty. Singularity and exception yield to righteous outrage, communal mobilization, and militant demand on surrounding authorities. Something must be done now. A famous few may issue bounties for individual culprits, with no regard for the collateral consequences of such grandstanding. A larger narrative quickly forms, condensing in precious keywords: hate, hate crime, justice, ignorance, safety, policing, prosecution, inclusion, education, criminal.
This past year of the pandemic has seen a horrifying uptick in anti-Asian violence and hate crimes in the U.S., many targeting the elderly. From Vicha Ratanapakdee, an 84-year old Thai man who was knocked to the ground, to Noel Quintana, a 61-year old Filipino man who was slashed in the face, many Asian elders have been assaulted and attacked since the pandemic’s onset. Asian people, especially Chinese folks have been subjected to verbal and physical violence—much of which has been fueled by Trump’s anti-Asian rhetoric pertaining to COVID-19’s origins. Racial epithets such as “kung flu” and “Chinese virus” have only exacerbated the situation. While some people have donated or raised awareness, others have expressed their grief by calling on more policing as a means for justice.
On the show this week, Chris Hedges discusses with journalist and writer May Jeong the deep American roots of the Atlanta shootings. May Jeong’s op-ed, ‘The Deep American Roots of the Atlanta Shootings - The Victims Lived at the Nexus of Race, Gender and Class’, was published in the New York Times on March 19, 2021. Jeong is a writer at Vanity Fair and an Alicia Patterson fellow. She is working on a book about sex work.
Ever since a white Georgia man killed six Asian women and two others in Atlanta, the corporate media have jumped onto the “stop Asian hate” bandwagon as if they are innocent bystanders. It is easy to point fingers at a murdering local redneck and leave unexamined the media role in spreading hatred based on race and nationality. Sinophobia in particular has been quite overt, with the corporate media following the dictates of U.S. foreign policy. When Donald Trump was president they repeated his every lie and insult, and supported every decision intended to thwart China.
Since coronavirus shutdowns began last March, thousands of Asian Americans have faced racist verbal and physical attacks or have been shunned by others, according to a study released Tuesday. The report by Stop AAPI Hate documents 3,795 racially motivated attacks against Asian Americans from March to February, noting that the number is likely a fraction of the attacks that occurred, because many were not reported to the group. On Tuesday, eight people, including six Asian women, were shot to death at massage parlors in the Atlanta area.
The ANSWER Coalition stands in solidarity with the Asian community in the midst of the horrific, racist and misogynist massacre that took place in Atlanta on March 16th. Six Asian women were among the eight shot to death at point blank range. The alarming rise in hate crimes over the past year correlates to an increasingly hostile U.S. foreign policy towards China. The opportunistic scapegoating of China during the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, coupled with the intensity by which China is deemed the enemy and adversary of the United States, has driven a widespread Sinophobic sentiment nationally.
On March 16, eight people were killed at three different spas in North Georgia including six Asian women. We are heartbroken by these murders, which come at a time when Asian American communities are already grappling with the traumatic violence against Asian Americans nationwide, fueled by the United States’ long history of white supremacy, systemic racism, and gender-based violence. As we collectively grieve and respond to this tragedy, we must lead with the needs of those most directly impacted at the center: the victims and their families.