Addressing Asian Hate:

Responding to the Atlanta Shootings

This page is dedicated to ACENet's response to the horrific acts of Asian hate that have taken place in Atlanta.  Our hearts go out to the victims and families involved.  The mass murder on March 16, 2021, is one of many heinous crimes that have been committed increasingly against Asian people since the start of COVID-19.  

Below are the candid responses from individuals who have consented to share their thoughts publicly.

Addressing Asian Hate: Responding to the Atlanta Shootings

Written by Mary Reid - March 18, 2021

Dr. Mary Reid is an active ACENet member who chairs the research committee.

She is an assistant professor at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education

(OISE), University of Toronto. As a settler to Turtle island, she identifies as an East

Asian cis gender woman, a partner to Steven, and a mother to two daughters. 

Anti-Asian Hate and What it Means to be Asian: A Response to the Atlanta Shootings

Today I learned about the unspeakable mass shootings in Atlanta, in which the White shooter targeted Asian women. Eight lives were violently taken, the latest in the alarming rise of anti-Asian hate crimes throughout the pandemic.

I write this reflection as a cis-gender Asian woman, who recognizes my power and privilege, and also feels vulnerable and terrified in the world in which I am situated.

I watched the press conference where police captain Jay Baker casually talked about the killer, “…he was fed up, at the end of his rope… yesterday was a really bad day for him and this is what he did.” These words demean the lives of the victims, leaving them valueless. In fact, he undeniably dehumanized and reduced their lives to a ‘really bad day.’ These words normalize the actions of a killer with an apologetic tone. Words matter. The inability to recognize this abhorrent crime as racially motivated and as gender-based violence is an emblematic example of White privilege where White supremacy dominates the narrative. Unquestionably, this press conference would have played out differently, if the killer was BIPOC and the victims were White.

Captain Baker goes on to say that the killer said the shootings were not racially motivated, but rather, he wanted to ‘eliminate’ these locations because they were temptations for his sex addiction. Killing Asian women is not an option for coping with sex addiction. Western culture continues to objectify and fetishize Asian women and this stems from White toxic masculinity. In my early twenties, I felt caught in many battles against aggressive and harassing White men, excusing their behaviour due to their ‘yellow fever,’ touting themselves as ‘rice kings, rice chasers, and dumpling lovers.’ The hypersexualization of Asian women intertwined with pervasive stereotypes of obedience and docility creates a monolithic picture of us. It promotes the yellow fever phenomenon which equates our bodies as commodities. Speak out against these harmful notions. If you are witness to Asian women subjected to this kind of aggression, whether it be in the media or in real life, recognize the violence, name it, and report it.

Enough is enough. We must call this out. Excusing these murders based on a ‘really bad day’ or ‘being at the end of your rope’ is an act of racist media reporting. This was undeniably a hate crime, deeply rooted in anti-Asian racism and misogyny. Dismantling racism and misogyny requires all of us to stand up against White supremacy and toxic masculinity. How the media covers shootings by White perpetrators of racialized victims must be disrupted. Press conferences must de-center White supremacy such as the one led by Captain Baker, and fully disclose the misogyny, hate, oppression,and racism. Our actions must move beyond performative hashtags.

Here are a few ideas that support action:

1)      Reach out to your Asian friends, colleagues, students, and family members. Do a wellness check and simply ask “how are you?”  I reached out to my daughters today, and broke down emotionally. I had hoped that the world they would navigate would be different than what I experienced as a young adult. Sadly, not much has changed.

2)      Center your activism on Indigenous and Black lives. The oppression of Black, Indigenous, and Asian Peoples are intertwined and it is critical that we stand united in anti-racism work.

3)      Access resources. One of my favourite documents is the TDSB/ETFO resource, which aims to support educators on dismantling anti-Asian racism. This resource highlights that to rid our world of anti-Asian racism, we must stand together to rid the world of all forms of racism.

4)      Understand the historical landscape of Asian Canadian people. The Asian diaspora is rich and diverse. I am a first generation Canadian. My parents wanted to immigrate to Canada but couldn’t due to the Chinese Exclusion Act. Instead, my family immigrated to Trinidad and Tobago. When the discriminatory law was repealed in the late 1960s, my family finally immigrated to Canada in the early 1970s, and they had to rebuild their lives from scratch.

5)      On a final note, I invite you to be part of the Asian Canadian Educators’ Network (ACENet). We are a group of educators who amplify Asian voices and work collaboratively on educational issues and concerns related to Asian Canadians. We’ve explored critical topics such as the harmful effects of the model minority myth, the mental health of Asian students, the bamboo ceiling, and recently we critically examined the rise of anti-Asian hate crimes in the midst of Covid19.  All educators are welcome!

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