Deadly shootings in Atlanta come as Asian American women are bearing brunt of rising in hate incidents across the US.A
When news broke that a gunman had opened fire on spas in the US city of Atlanta, eventually killing eight people including six Asian women, Tiffany says she felt as though she was having an out-of-body experience.
The Vietnamese-American 22-year-old, who spoke to Al Jazeera on condition of anonymity, said she turned to her mother – who before the COVID-19 pandemic worked at an Atlanta hair salon – and realised that she, too, was in shock.
“Now as somebody who’s a daughter of an immigrant, I’m just really relieved that I don’t have to worry about my parents walking out the streets and working while this is happening,” Tiffany told Al Jazeera.
But the attacks, she said, hit very close to home.
“Hair salons, nail salons, janitorial work, massage parlours, spas – this work is very common within our community,” she said. “And to see this sort of act of violence … we [were] frightened and scared and confused and angry.”
Six Asian women were among those killed in the shootings at three separate spas in the Atlanta area on Tuesday evening, which sent shockwaves throughout the city and across the United States.
Authorities charged the alleged gunman with eight counts of murder and one count of aggravated assault in relation to all three shootings, US media reported on Wednesday. He is expected to appear in court on Thursday.
Police told reporters the 21-year-old suspect told them he was “not racially motivated” but that he saw the establishments as “temptation” because of a sex addiction.
But Asian American leaders and experts say racism and stereotypes against Asian women played a role in the attacks, which have deepened an already widespread sense of fear within the community.
We cannot separate the race and the gender identity of the victims here in this case,” said Sung Yeon Choimorrow, the executive director of National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF).
Coimorrow says when she realised the shootings had taken place at spas, her first thought was that “there has been a mass killing of Asian American women”.
Deadly shootings in Atlanta come as Asian American women are bearing brunt of rising in hate incidents across the US.
“It was almost like our worst fears had come to fruition,” she told Al Jazeera, pointing to a rise in anti-Asian racism and hate incidents that have disproportionately affected Asian-American women across the country.
“This is what we were afraid of, was that we weren’t going to get enough attention in time to avoid, to prevent, something like this from happening.”
Choimorrow says the attacks are being felt by Asian-American women “at a personal level that we’ve never experienced before and it’s because we’ve all lived and experienced racialised sexual harassment and violence that is directed at us”.
Race and gender identity played a role in the deadly violence, she adds, as did the fact that the women worked in the service industry. “They were completely invisibility,” Choimorrow said. Here