By Aspen Strauss
My name is Aspen Strauss. I am a 19-year-old Asian American from South Korea, and I am disgusted at the alleged hate crimes that occurred in the Atlanta spa shootings.
On Tuesday, March 16, eight Asian Americans were shot and killed in Georgia at three different Atlanta-area spas that left mostly women of Asian descent dead. Six of the Asian American women included four Koreans.
Robert Aaron Long, 21, of Woodstock, Georgia, was arrested and charged with eight counts of murder and one count of aggravated assault after he allegedly killed eight people at the massage parlors. Police stated that Long targeted the spas because of sexual addiction and not a racial motive.
“Long has taken responsibilities for the shootings, but he does claim it was not racially motivated,” said Capt. Jay Baker of the Cherokee County Sheriff’s office in a story in the South China Morning Post.”
Although it’s tough to say whether the crimes committed were intended to target the salons in regards to hate crimes or sexual addiction, it’s hard to know truly what was going on in Long’s head. Baker, after being interviewed stated on March 18, that “he (Long) had a really bad day and this is what he did.” After the statement came out, Baker was criticized for his relaxed explanation of the situation, as many see this as a major hate crime and a threat toward anyone who is of Asian American descent.
President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris took a visit to Atlanta on Friday where they both condemned this week’s attacks as well as the rise in the recent anti-Asian hate crimes over the past year.
“Whatever the killer’s motive, these facts are clear,” Harris said, pointing out that six of the eight people killed were of Asian descent, seven were women, and “the shootings took place in businesses owned by Asian Americans”.
She told the media, “The president and I will not be silent. We will not stand by… We will always speak out against violence, hate crimes, and discrimination, wherever and whenever it occurs.”
It’s hard to sit on the sidelines to watch as these horrible things happen in our world. Especially when the community being hurt is my own. Although it is hard to decipher between hate or another motive for Long to lash out, there is no excuse for the eight lives lost in Atlanta. Asian Americans are scared. They are scared to leave their homes, show their faces in public, and live their lives without the fear that something may happen to them all because of race.
As a young Asian American in a predominately white public school, I was stereotyped because of my race. People would comment how because of my small eyes I would be a terrible driver, or that I was supposed to be very smart because of my background. I was told to go back to my country and was shamed for North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un when South Korea was my birth home. People would make fun of my birth name because it was different and sounded funny. I grew up wishing I was white because of all the hate and prejudice I received at a young age for simply being Asian.
To many of you, we don’t look the same as you, we have different cultures, we don’t all speak the same language. Yet tell me why we need to be looked down upon. We never asked to be different from you. But here we are now, mourning for the eight mothers, friends, and family members who lost their lives working for their families and for themselves. My heart breaks at the news that occurred in Atlanta. Soon Chung Park (74), Hyun Jung Grant (51), Suncha Kim (69), Yong Yue (63), Delaina Ashley Yaun (33), Paul Andre Michels (54), Xiaojie Tan (49) Daoyou Feng (44), I along with millions mourn for you and we are so sorry that this happened to you.