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A woman’s brutal attack exposed a torrent of anti-Asian violence after the Atlanta shootings

The fear and outrage felt by Asian Americans after the Atlanta-area spa shootings hasn’t vanished and neither has the bias and violence that preceded it, lawmakers and activists say.

A horrific attack on a 65-year-old woman in New York City this week has prompted widespread condemnation and became the latest reminder that anti-Asian bias and violence in America has not abated.

The woman of Filipino descent was punched and kicked in front of a New York City apartment complex in broad daylight by an attacker who allegedly made anti-Asian statements toward her.

The attack comes days after the NYPD began deploying undercover Asian officers to help combat hate crimes against Asians. It took place on the same day that the US attorney’s office in Brooklyn announced plans to double the size of its civil rights criminal division, citing the “spiking number of hate crimes directed at Asian Americans” in its jurisdiction.

In the two weeks since the shootings in Atlanta, others have been assaulted or received threats.

A 38-year-old Asian man was punched in the face near Penn Station in New York City. A 54-year-old woman was hospitalized after a man struck her in the face with a metal object. An elderly woman in California got a letter in the mail threatening Asian Americans after her family laid her husband to rest.

As the attacks persist, the rallies calling for an end to anti-Asian violence continue and have spread to large and small cities across the country and abroad.

At a rally in Los Angeles, Tam Nguyen shared a letter that he said was sent to several Vietnamese-owned nail salons in California last week.

“It’s a tough time to be Asian. I want to read this (letter),” he said, and recited a litany of racist slurs and stereotypes that ended with “go home.”

He told CNN that his parents moved to the United States to give he and his sister a better life but “right now it doesn’t feel that way.”

Another rally in Atlanta last weekend was among the roughly 60 events held that day organized by the Act Now to Stop War & End Racism (ANSWER) Coalition.

Women are speaking out about being fetishized

For the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community, it was impossible to disconnect the shooting from the incidents of hate they have experienced since the start of the pandemic and the misogyny and stereotypes that are familiar for Asian women.

Authorities haven’t offered a firm explanation for a motive behind the mass shootings but said the suspect told investigators that the shootings were not racially motivated and noted that he has a “sexual addiction.”

Asian and Asian American women are often fetishized and hypersexualized, activists say, and the Atlanta-area shootings was so horrific that the country “finally stopped and paid attention.”

The shootings especially struck a chord among Asian women. It led many of them to speak up about the harassment they have experienced in the past due to their race and gender, said Sung Yeon Choimorrow, executive director of the nonprofit advocacy group National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum.

“This shows that so many of us were carrying this pain and this oppression on our own,” Choimorrow said. “Finally, we are finding space to talk about it, (talk) to each other, and be brave to share with the world.”

“It opened ways for all of us to start talking about something that we’ve been made to feel ashamed of,” she added.

The perceptions of Asian and Asian American women as submissive, hypersexual and exotic can be traced back centuries.

One of the earliest examples comes from the Page Act of 1875. That law, coming a few years before the Chinese Exclusion Act, was enacted seemingly to restrict prostitution and forced labor. In reality, it was used systematically to prevent Chinese women from immigrating to the US, under the pretense that they were prostitutes.

Nearly 3,800 hate incidents targeting Asian Americans were reported to Stop AAPI Hate between March 19 last year and February 28 this year. Women made nearly 70% of those reports while while men made up 29%, the report found.

White House announces actions to combat anti-Asian attacks

Elected officials visited the Atlanta-area spas, held meetings with community organizations in multiple cities and continued pushing for action to end the violence in the past weeks. Some of them even shared how they’ve been subject to abuse and discrimination.

Lee Wong, a board of trustees chairman in Ohio’s West Chester Township, bared his chest during a recent town meeting to reveal scars from injuries he suffered while in the US Army.

“There are some ignorant people that will come up to me and say that I don’t look American or patriotic enough,” Wong said during the meeting on March 23. “Now that just gets my goat.”

“Here is my proof,” he said pointing to his scars. “Now is this patriot enough?”

Wong wasn’t prepared to make a speech that day, he told CNN on Thursday, but felt like he needed to say something after all the verbal threats he’s received.

“We are all human. This increase in violence against Asian Americans, it’s just wrong,” Wong said. “We are all hardworking Americans, law-abiding citizens, and we need to be treated equal.

Earlier this week, the White House announced several initiatives aimed to address anti-Asian violence.

The administration will appoint a permanent director to coordinate all federal policies impacting the AAPI community, establish a cross-agency Justice Department initiative to investigate anti-Asian violence and establish a committee to address coronavirus-fueled xenophobia against Asian Americans.

The Department of Health and Human Services will also allocate $49.5 million from the American Rescue to increase funding for AAPI survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault.

Several Asian American female lawmakers applauded President Joe Biden’s “concrete actions,” including Rep. Grace Meng and Sen. Tammy Duckworth, who recently criticized the lack of AAPI diversity in top roles in the new administration.

“Within the span of a year we’ve gone from a former President who literally incited violence to a President who has not only taken meaningful steps but he’s taken these steps as a result of listening and talking to congressional members,” Meng told CNN on Wednesday.

While numerous companies and institutions have issued solidarity statements in the last month, a coalition of hundreds of Asian American business and tech leaders announced Wednesday a collective monetary commitment.

The group announced Wednesday that it will donate $10 million over the next year to support advocacy and research groups in their fight against violence against Asians. The group includes some of the founders of Zoom, DoorDash and YouTube.

Article Topic Follows: National-World

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