a military pact with the United States, one that Mr. Duterte has previously threatened to terminate. Herman Kraft, a political scientist at the University of the Philippines in Quezon City, said it was important to view Mr. Locsin’s comments against the backdrop of those geopolitics.

“Locsin probably wants to send a signal to the U.S. before President Duterte commits the Philippine government on a policy direction that would be difficult to backpedal from,” he said.

Mr. Cruz De Castro, the professor, said that Mr. Locsin’s Twitter storm was a “knee-jerk” reaction that reflected his personality more than specific policy priorities in the Philippines. But the response to the attack from people across the Philippines, he added, illustrated the country’s strong connection with its diaspora.

“It’s a reflection of our attitude of, ‘When we send people abroad, they’re still linked with us,’” he said, “ignoring the fact that they’re under private motive and have basically adopted the culture and citizenship of their host country.”

Jason Gutierrez reported from Manila and Mike Ives from Hong Kong.

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Prabal Gurung on Anti-Asian Violence, Discrimination and the Duties of Success

Prabal Gurung, the Nepalese-American designer, has been a vocal proponent of inclusion and diversity since his first show in 2009. In the wake of the Atlanta shootings and an upswing in anti-Asian violence, he talked to The New York Times about his own experiences and what his work has to do with it.

How do you grapple with what’s going on?

To watch a video of a 65-year-old woman being brutally attacked is triggering and heart-wrenching, not just for me but for my friends and people from my community. We all are so worried for our loved ones. My mother goes on walks every morning and evening. She’s 75-years-old. A couple of weeks ago, I bought a blond wig for her, and I said, “You know, just wear it when you go outside, wear a hat, wear glasses.” She tried it on. But the next day she came over to my place, and she was like: “I’m not going to wear it. Just buy me a big, strong cane.” That is the reality of this.

Is that why you were an organizer of a Black and Asian solidarity march with other designers and activists in March?

We didn’t know how many people were going to show up, but thousands and thousands of people showed up across races and gender: L.G.B.T.Q. friends, Latin friends, Black friends, Asian friends, white friends. What we recognize is that for this particular moment to turn into a movement, we have to have all the marginalized groups and our white counterparts coming together.

Oh, a wave of Asian designers.” Then there’s a wave of Black designers, a wave of women designers. We never say a wave of white designers. We are never considered designers on our own. So that kind of implicit bias, that kind of microaggression, we face it all the time.

Did you experience it when you were trying to get financial backing for your business?

For my 10-year anniversary I was at a potential investors meeting, and one asked, “What does the brand stand for?” I said: “The America that I see is very colorful. The dinner table that I see is very colorful. It’s diverse. That’s the America that was promised to me. That’s why I came here, because I was a misfit back home.” And he says to me, “Well, you don’t look American.” I looked at him, and I was like, “You mean to say I don’t look white?”

“It’s OK,” I said. “I’ve been in business in America for 20 years. I’m a citizen. I make more than 90 percent of my clothes in New York City. I am actively involved in social causes. I’ve contributed to my taxes.”

torrent of hate and violence against people of Asian descent around the U.S. began last spring, in the early days of the coronavirus pandemic. Community leaders say the bigotry was spurred by the rhetoric of former President Trump, who referred to the coronavirus as the “China virus.”

  • In New York, a wave of xenophobia and violence has been compounded by the economic fallout of the pandemic, which has dealt a severe blow to New York’s Asian-American communities. Many community leaders say racist assaults are being overlooked by the authorities.
  • In January, an 84-year-old man from Thailand was violently slammed to the ground in San Francisco, resulting in his death at a hospital two days later. The attack, captured on video, has become a rallying cry.
  • Eight people, including six women of Asian descent, were killed in the Atlanta massage parlor shootings on March 16. The suspect’s motives are under investigation, but Asian communities across the United States are on alert because of a surge in attacks against Asian-Americans over the past year.
  • A man has been arrested and charged with a hate crime in connection with a violent attack on a Filipino woman near Times Square on March 30. The attack sparked further outrage after security footage appeared to show bystanders failing to immediately come to the woman’s aid.
  • Part of what you are trying to do with your work is educate people about the nuances of different Asian cultures, right?

    Asian-Americans are the fastest growing immigrant group in the U.S. electorate, with roots all over the world. We are diverse. I look East Asian, right? But I’m from Southeast Asia. I sit in the center of the brown Asians and the other Asians. The wealth disparity between the richest Asian-Americans and the poorest is insanely high. I think maybe the largest of any ethnic group in this country. In spite of that, there is a myth of the model minority, of crazy rich Asians. That’s why “Parasite” is important, why “Minari” is important. Give us the platform so we can tell our stories.

    This stereotyping doesn’t make you angry?

    I’m OK with people making mistakes because it can start a dialogue that leads to a solution. I refuse to cancel people unless there’s something really harmful.

    Fashion is one of the hardest and most arduous industries, but it’s also an industry that can reward you in the most splendid, incredible way. And it is the only industry where in 10 minutes on a runway we can really change the narrative of what the culture can be. That’s the power of fashion.

    I am a living example of it, coming from a country like Nepal where nobody believed I could be a designer. To be able to live that dream and to have this platform. It’s been really incredible.

    This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

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    Gun reform laws eluded Biden in 2013. Could this showdown with the NRA be different?

    Within hours of 10 people being gunned down at the King Soopers grocery store in Boulder, Colorado on Monday – the second such bloody rampage in seven days – the calls had begun for Congress to tighten up America’s notoriously slack firearms laws.

    John Hickenlooper, a Democratic US senator from Colorado who was governor of the state at the time of the Aurora cinema shooting that killed 12 people in 2012, opined that “our country has a horrific problem with gun violence. We need federal action. Now.”

    Gabby Giffords, a former congresswoman and leading gun control advocate who was shot in the head in 2011, remarked: “It doesn’t have to be this way. It’s beyond time for our leaders to take action.”

    The most prescient comment came from Mark Barden, whose son Daniel was one of 20 six- and seven-year-olds shot dead at Sandy Hook elementary school in Connecticut in December 2012. His heart was with the grieving families of Boulder, he said, adding that he hoped this year the country would “finally expand access to background checks”.

    That hope that real legislative change could finally be on the horizon belied the years of disappointment that have brought Barden and other gun law campaigners to this point. In April 2013, the Sandy Hook father stood beside Barack Obama in the Rose Garden of the White House hours after the US Senate had voted down a bill that would have introduced universal background checks on all gun sales.

    It was a low point in America’s bleak history of political failure in the face of ongoing gun violence. If you can’t get Congress to pass such a rudimentary regulation as security checks on the purchasers of weapons just months after 20 young children have been shot at point-blank range with a military-style rifle, then when is possible?

    A customer fills out a background check form in Orem, Utah. Photograph: George Frey/AFP/Getty Images

    “This was a pretty shameful day for Washington,” a shaken and angry Obama said.

    Standing in the Rose Garden directly behind Obama and Barden was the man entrusted with driving gun reform on to the statute books: Joe Biden. After the slaying of the school kids, Obama had given Biden the job of coming up with a plan for substantial legislation that would help prevent Sandy Hook happening again.

    The mission was custom-made for the then-vice-president. As a father who had lost his daughter Naomi and first wife, Neilia, in a car crash in 1972, he had no dearth of empathy for the Sandy Hook families.

    He also had an impressive record on gun reform in the US Senate, having played a leading role in passing the Brady Bill in 1993, which required partial background checks, and having drafted a ban on assault weapons enacted the following year (it expired in 2004).

    So what went wrong? Why didn’t Biden achieve meaningful reform at a time when the nation was deeply traumatized by a horrifying slaughter of its children?

    The question is pertinent now, eight years later, when Biden has vowed yet again to take on the gun lobby. On Tuesday the president called on Congress to “immediately pass” legislation that would close loopholes in the background check system and reimpose the ban on assault weapons – almost exactly the reforms he failed to push through Congress in 2013.

    A clue to what happened was given in one of the first of many meetings that Biden held with interested parties to discuss his proposals. The encounter, held at the White House, was with the lobby group that posed the greatest threat to his efforts: the National Rifle Association.

    At the time the NRA, with more than 4m members and an iron grip on lawmakers whom it ranked according to their voting records, was widely feared as the most powerful gun lobby in the world. Wayne LaPierre, the NRA’s executive vice-president, had just days before issued his response to Sandy Hook, proposing in typically acerbic fashion that the way to prevent further mass shootings was to place armed guards in all schools.

    “The only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun,” LaPierre said. In the ensuing months, gun sales soared.

    By all accounts, Biden’s head-to-head with the NRA did not go well. The White House, the lobby group hissed, had “an agenda to attack the second amendment … We will not allow law-abiding gun owners to be blamed for the acts of criminals and madmen.”

    Joe Biden crosses his fingers in response to a reporter’s question on gun reform laws the day after a mass shooting in Boulder, Colorado.
    Joe Biden crosses his fingers in response to a reporter’s question on gun reform laws the day after a mass shooting in Boulder, Colorado. Photograph: Leah Millis/Reuters

    After that spluttering start, Biden went on to stage meetings with hundreds of other influential groups and individuals on either side of the gun divide. As an act of public consultation it was exemplary; as an effort at effective politics it was widely deemed to have crashed.

    “If, by some chance, there could have been some reasonable bill on the floor [of the Senate] by January,” a Senate aide told Politico, there would have been “less time for people to sort of become ambivalent”.

    Biden’s much-vaunted desire to be politically inclusive by reaching across the aisle cost him valuable time. In turn, that allowed the enormous energy unleashed by the horrifying events inside Sandy Hook elementary school to dissipate.

    By the time the vote was held in April 2013, four months after the slaughter, the NRA had reasserted its grip over cowering Republican senators. In fact, four Democratic senators had joined them to vote against the bill to introduce universal background checks, which gained 54 votes to 46 but fell short of the 60 needed to avoid a filibuster.

    Eight years on, Washington appears stuck in a scene out of Groundhog Day. Universal background checks are being talked about again in the wake of mass shootings, and all eyes are on Biden and the US Senate.

    Five days before the Atlanta spa rampages, the House passed the Bipartisan Background Checks Act by 227 votes to 203. The bill now passes to the Senate, setting up a repeat showdown that presents Biden with his greatest chance since 2013 to get things right.

    Aspects of the tussle have tipped this time in his favor. Control of the Senate has passed from the gun-loving Republicans to Biden’s Democratic party.

    The main roadblock, the NRA, has gone into a tailspin of scandal and financial calamity over the past 18 months that is likely to blunt its teeth as it tries to block the legislation.

    The Senate battle ahead remains formidable, however, given that the chamber is evenly divided 50 seats to 50, and with the 60-vote filibuster yet again posing a daunting challenge. Biden finds himself in an all-too familiar place, seeking to drive through change against the odds with the hopes of so many bereaved families depending on the outcome.

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    Atlanta Spa Shootings Reverberate Across South Korea, Long a U.S. Ally

    SEOUL—The killings happened more than 7,000 miles away. But for many South Koreans, the Atlanta-area spa shootings hit close to home. “The Victims Were Korean Mothers,” read a headline Sunday from the country’s largest newspaper.

    Of the eight people who died, six were women of Asian descent—including four who have been identified as ethnic Koreans, ranging in age from 51 years old to 74. One was a South Korean citizen.

    The rampage in Georgia has reverberated across this nation of 52 million, which in the decades since the Korean War has had a deep and enduring relationship with the U.S. The two are allies and share close cultural ties.

    It can often seem like every Korean knows someone with relatives or friends living in the U.S. South Korea sends more of its children to study in America than in any other foreign country.

    Lee Myung-kyu, a 55-year-old office worker, said he knows many South Korean families who have dreamed of immigrating to the U.S., hoping for a better life. His own daughter wants to go to school in America. But Mr. Lee said he now has doubts.

    “I keep thinking about whether something like this could happen to her,” Mr. Lee said.

    Demonstrators Call for End to Anti-Asian Violence in U.S.

    Protests and vigils urging an end to violence against Asian-Americans were held around the country on Saturday.

    Hundreds gathered Saturday in San Francisco’s Chinatown, calling for an end to violence against Asian-Americans. Eight people, including six women of Asian descent, were killed in a shooting spree in the Atlanta area on Tuesday.

    Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

    1 of 11

    Local police say the white man from Georgia charged with murder in the case said he was driven by what he called a sex addiction. Authorities say they are investigating whether the killings were racially motivated.

    The attack has sparked fear at the same time police and government officials in New York and other U.S. cities have said hate crimes against Asian-Americans have risen since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, which first emerged in China.

    Han Ye-rim, 32, said she has long idealized the U.S. as a diverse society. But staring at a victim list that looks much like herself, Ms. Han wonders how she would actually fare leaving Seoul.

    “Learning about the Atlanta incident was a wake-up call to me,” Ms. Han said. “I’m realizing that I can be targeted for being different if I leave this country.”

    What made the Atlanta rampage especially jarring was how good South Koreans, and Korean-Americans, had been feeling lately about their standing in the U.S.

    U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin visited Korea on their first foreign trip. Barely a year ago, the South Korean film “Parasite” emerged with an unprecedented Best Picture win at the Academy Awards. BTS, the Korean pop band, had recently performed at the Grammys and topped Billboard’s album charts.

    People rallied on Saturday in Atlanta.

    Photo: shannon stapleton/Reuters

    Meanwhile, South Koreans had rushed to the local box office to see the U.S. film “Minari,” which depicts a new Korean immigrant family in rural Arkansas and was itself just nominated for several Oscars.

    “It’s really a weird kind of dichotomy,” said Abraham Kim, executive director for the Council of Korean Americans, a Washington-based nonprofit group, with celebrations of pop culture on the one hand and what he described as Asians “being targeted for violence on the other.”

    South Korean media has given widespread coverage to the Atlanta shootings. In a Thursday editorial, Kyunghyang Shinmun, a left-leaning newspaper, called American society “defenseless to racist attacks.” Another outlet, the right-leaning Segye Ilbo, urged the U.S. to take “effective measures so that crimes against humanity do not take root.”

    On Friday, President Biden, saying that the investigation is still under way, mourned the victims and declared that “hate can have no safe harbor in America.”

    South Korean President Moon Jae-in has described the Atlanta killings as shocking.

    Photo: Jewon Heon-kyun/Associated Press

    South Korean President Moon Jae-in has called the Atlanta killings shocking, while the country’s foreign ministry supported the U.S. government’s efforts to stand against hatred and violence. “Such a crime is unacceptable under any circumstances,” the foreign ministry said in a Saturday statement.

    Walking with a friend just blocks from the U.S. Embassy in Seoul, where the American flag continues to fly at half-staff in honor of the shooting victims, Yoon Ji-a recalled living in California during her youth. Her parents had a few brushes with racism, she said. But the events in Atlanta caught her by surprise.

    “It’s scary,” said Ms. Yoon, a 20-year-old college student.

    There are about 1.8 million Korean-Americans, according to the U.S. figures. The biggest Korean populations are in the metropolitan areas of Los Angeles, New York and Washington, D.C., according to Pew Research Center figures, analyzing U.S. data. Atlanta ranks seventh-largest.

    Jean Lee has two children living in the U.S., though she hadn’t learned of the Atlanta-area shootings until local media began broadcasting coverage of the weekend protests and vigils across nearly two dozen American cities. Now the 48-year-old fears her children could be targeted.

    “A lot of hate speech surfaced when people began calling the coronavirus the ‘Wuhan virus’ and it’s unfortunate that this issue came to light because of the shootings,” Ms. Lee said. “It feels late for Asians who have been experiencing discrimination for so long.”

    Jenna Lee, a 25-year-old online shopping-mall owner, said she lived in Atlanta for two years as a teenager. In recent days, she said, she watched “Minari,” with its tale of struggling immigrants, and it prompted her to wonder whether Asian-Americans would be forever foreign and forever invisible.

    “Asians are more than just people trying to assimilate into American society,” Ms. Lee said. And in her view, she said, “the shootings show how vulnerable we are to discrimination.”

    Write to Timothy W. Martin at timothy.martin@wsj.com and Dasl Yoon at dasl.yoon@wsj.com

    Copyright ©2020 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved. 87990cbe856818d5eddac44c7b1cdeb8

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    ‘We all know hate when we see it’: Warnock rejects FBI chief’s view of Atlanta shootings

    Law enforcement officials including the director of the FBI have said the shootings in Atlanta in which eight people were killed do not appear to have been racially motivated, but the Georgia senator Raphael Warnock said on Sunday: “We all know hate when we see it.”

    Six women of Asian descent, another woman and a man were killed on Tuesday, in a shootings at spas in the Atlanta area.

    Robert Aaron Long, a 21-year-old white man, was charged with the murders. He told police his actions were not racially motivated, and claimed to have a sex addiction.

    Speaking to NPR on Thursday, the FBI director, Christopher Wray, said: “While the motive remains still under investigation at the moment, it does not appear that the motive was racially motivated.”

    But such conclusions are rejected by protesters who see a link to rising attacks on Asian Americans in light of the coronavirus pandemic, which originated in China, and racially charged rhetoric from former president Donald Trump and others.

    Warnock, a Democrat, took office in January as the first African American elected to the US Senate from Georgia. On Saturday he and his fellow Democratic senator Jon Ossoff spoke to protesters near the state capitol in Atlanta.

    “I just wanted to drop by to say to my Asian sisters and brothers, ‘We see you, and, more importantly, we are going to stand with you,’” Warnock said, to cheers.

    On Sunday, he told NBC’s Meet the Press: “I think it’s important that we centre the humanity of the victims. I’m hearing a lot about the shooter, but these precious lives that have been lost, they are attached to families. They’re connected to people who love them. And so, we need to keep that in mind.

    “Law enforcement will go through the work that they need to do, but we all know hate when we see it. And it is tragic that we’ve been visited with this kind of violence yet again.”

    Warnock also cited a Georgia hate crimes law passed amid outrage over the killing of Ahmaud Arbery, a young African American man, and which prosecutors may decide to use against Young.

    “I’ve long pushed for hate crimes laws here in the state of Georgia,” Warnock said. “It took entirely too long to get one on the books here. But thankfully, we do have that law on the books right now.”

    Calling for “reasonable gun reform”, Warnock also linked official responses to the Atlanta shootings to efforts by Republicans to restrict voting among minority groups.

    “This shooter was able to kill all of these folks the same day he purchased a firearm,” Warnock said. “But right now, what is our legislature doing? They’re busy under the gold dome here in Georgia, trying to prevent people from being able to vote the same day they register.

    “I think that suggests a distortion in values. When you can buy a gun and create this much carnage and violence on the same day, but if you want to exercise your right to vote as an American citizen, the same legislature that should be focused on this is busy erecting barriers to that constitutional right.”

    Young bought a 9mm handgun at Big Woods Goods. Matt Kilgo, a lawyer for the store, told the Associated Press it complies with federal background check laws and is cooperating with police, with “no indication there’s anything improper”.

    Democrats and campaigners for gun law reform said a mandatory waiting period might have stopped Young acting on impulse.

    “It’s really quick,” Robyn Thomas, executive director of the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, told the AP. “You walk in, fill out the paperwork, get your background check and walk out with a gun. If you’re in a state of crisis, personal crisis, you can do a lot of harm fairly quickly.”

    According to the Giffords Center, studies suggest purchase waiting periods may bring down firearm suicides by up to 11% and homicides by about 17%.

    David Wilkerson, the minority whip in the Georgia state House, said Democrats planned to introduce legislation that would require a five-day period between buying a gun and getting it.

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    Atlanta spa shootings: Georgia hate crimes law could see first big test

    A hate crimes law passed in Georgia amid outrage over the killing of Ahmaud Arbery could get its first major test as part of the murder case against a white man charged with shooting and killing six women of Asian descent at Atlanta-area massage businesses this week.

    Prosecutors in Georgia who will decide whether to pursue a hate crimes enhancement have declined to comment. But one said she was “acutely aware of the feelings of terror being experienced in the Asian American community”.

    Until last year, Georgia was one of four states without a hate crimes law. But lawmakers moved quickly to pass stalled legislation in June, during national protests over racial violence against Black Americans including the killing of Arbery, a 25-year-old Black man who was pursued by several white men and fatally shot while out running in February 2020.

    The new law allows an additional penalty for certain crimes if they are motivated by a victim’s race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender or mental or physical disability.

    Governor Brian Kemp called the new legislation “a powerful step forward”, adding when signing it into law: “Georgians protested to demand action and state lawmakers … rose to the occasion.”

    The killings of eight people in Georgia this week have prompted national mourning and a reckoning with racism and violence against Asian Americans during the coronavirus pandemic. The attack also focused attention on the interplay of racism and misogyny, including hyper-sexualized portrayals of Asian women in US culture.

    sex addiction.

    Asian American lawmakers, activists and scholars argued that the race and gender of the victims were central to the attack.

    “To think that someone targeted three Asian-owned businesses that were staffed by Asian American women … and didn’t have race or gender in mind is just absurd,” said Grace Pai, director of organizing at Asian Americans Advancing Justice in Chicago.

    Elaine Kim, a professor emeritus in Asian American studies at the University of California, Berkeley, said: “I think it’s likely that the killer not only had a sex addiction but also an addiction to fantasies about Asian women as sex objects.”

    Such sentiments were echoed on Saturday as a diverse, hundreds-strong crowd gathered in a park across from the Georgia state capitol to demand justice for the victims of the shootings.

    Speakers included the US senators Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff and the Georgia state representative Bee Nguyen, the first Vietnamese American in the Georgia House.

    “I just wanted to drop by to say to my Asian sisters and brothers, we see you, and, more importantly, we are going to stand with you,” Warnock said to loud cheers. “We’re all in this thing together.”

    The US senators Raphael Warnock, right, and Jon Ossoff participate in a march and rally in downtown Atlanta. Photograph: Erik S Lesser/EPA

    Bernard Dong, a 24-year-old student from China at Georgia Tech, said he had come to the protest to demand rights not just for Asians but for all minorities.

    “Many times Asian people are too silent, but times change,” he said, adding that he was “angry and disgusted” about the shootings and violence against Asians, minorities and women.

    Otis Wilson, a 38-year-old photographer, said people needed to pay attention to discrimination against those of Asian descent.

    “We went through this last year with the Black community, and we’re not the only ones who go through this,” he said.

    The Cherokee county district attorney, Shannon Wallace, and Fulton county district attorney, Fani Willis, will decide whether to pursue the hate crime enhancement.

    Wallace said she could not answer specific questions but said she was “acutely aware of the feelings of terror being experienced in the Asian-American community”. A representative for Willis did not respond to requests for comment.

    The US Department of Justice could bring federal hate crime charges independently of state prosecutions. Federal investigators have not uncovered evidence to prove Long targeted the victims because of their race, two unnamed officials told the Associated Press.

    A Georgia State University law professor, Tanya Washington, said it was important for the new hate crimes law to be used.

    “Unless we test it with cases like this one, we won’t have a body of law around how do you prove bias motivated the behavior,” she said.

    Surveillance footage shows Atlanta shooting suspect leaving massage parlour – video
    Surveillance footage shows Atlanta shooting suspect leaving massage parlour – video

    Given that someone convicted of multiple murders is unlikely to be released from prison, an argument could be made that it is not worth the effort, time and expense to pursue a hate crime designation that carries a relatively small additional penalty. But the Republican state representative Chuck Efstration, who sponsored the hate crimes bill, said it was not just about punishment.

    “It is important that the law calls things what they are,” he said. “It’s important for victims and it’s important for society.”

    The state senator Michelle Au, a Democrat, said the law needed to be used to give it teeth.

    Au believes there has been resistance nationwide to charge attacks against Asian Americans as hate crimes because they are seen as “model minorities”, a stereotype that they are hard-working, educated and free of societal problems. She said she had heard from many constituents in the last year that Asian Americans – and people of Chinese descent in particular – were suffering from bias because the coronavirus emerged in China and Donald Trump used racial terms to describe it.

    “People feel like they’re getting gaslighted because they see it happen every day,” she said. “They feel very clearly that it is racially motivated but it’s not pegged or labeled that way. And people feel frustrated by that lack of visibility and that aspect being ignored.”

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    ‘It’s time for people to hear us’: Georgia’s Asian Americans vow to stand up against hate

    On Monday morning, the day before a 21-year-old white man killed six Asian women and two others in the Atlanta metropolitan area, Dr Michelle Au, who became Georgia’s first state senator of east Asian descent only months ago, stood to address her colleagues at the state capitol.

    She spoke of the spitting, stabbing, punching and other acts of violence aimed at Asian Americans in the last year, including incidents in Georgia. She told her colleagues that “otherization, exoticization … and racism against Asian Americans are not new,” and spoke of the difficulty in changing these conditions “when … voices like yours are not always heard.”

    “We need help,” she implored. “We need people in power to stand up for us against hate.”

    Unfortunately, it would not be the last time she would address the issue. She would soon be joined by her four Asian American colleagues in the Georgia assembly, as well as the growing number of community-based organizations that have formed in recent years, a reflection of how the state’s fastest growing population has become a part of life in the former cradle of the Confederacy.

    In the days following the killings, as national and international media sought to explain the violence to their audiences, it was Georgia-based leaders with last names like Au, Nguyen, Cho, Park and Yaqoob Mahmood who stood in front of cameras and tape recorders. That represented a high-profile local Asian American response to the tragedy – one that might have been unthinkable in Georgia only a decade ago.

    Members of the Atlanta Korean American Committee against Asian Hate Crime pose with placard safter the deadly shootings. Photograph: Dustin Chambers/Reuters

    The result may be further steps taken toward countering historically unheard Asian-American voices in the city, state and the broader American south and what Bee Nguyen, Georgia’s first Vietnamese American state representative, described as “invisibility”.

    “We’ve been taught as Asian Americans to keep our heads down, because our parents believed it was safer for us,” Nguyen said from the capitol on the day after the shootings. “What’s happened is we’re now invisible and … it is invisibility that hasn’t shielded us from xenophobia, hate crimes, or gender-based violence.”

    On Thursday evening in a parking lot outside H Mart, the Korean American supermarket, in Suwanee, Gwinnett County, Sack Wichaisack echoed Nguyen. “The thing with Asian people is, when something happens to us, we don’t want to draw attention to us,” said Wichaisack, who was born in Laos. Having people like Au and Nguyen being at the center of the public response to this week’s tragic violence “makes a difference,” he added. “It makes us feel seen.”

    The 47-year-old construction company owner, who moved to Georgia in 2003, also noted how the Black community responds to violence driven by racism. “I see people in the Black community, when something happens to them, they corral together … [and] I think Asian people need to be more aware.”

    Sack Wichaisack, 47, Laotian-American who works in construction, shopping an H-Mart in Suwanee, GA
    Sack Wichaisack, 47, Laotian- American who works in construction, at an H Mart in Suwanee. Photograph: Jesse Pratt López/The Guardian

    “We’re in the heart of the civil rights movement,” said Victoria Huynh, vice-president at the Atlanta-based Center for Pan Asian Community Services (CPACS), which calls itself the “largest and oldest organization in the south-east to focus on issues and concerns of Asian Americans”.

    “Leaders of the Black community have set the stage and created opportunities for Asian Americans,” Huynh said, adding that her organization’s work on issues such as voter engagement draws inspiration from civil rights icons Martin Luther King and Congressman John Lewis.

    The increasing participation in public life by Asian Americans in Georgia that began several decades ago was most evident in last year’s general elections, as the number of Asian American state legislators increased to five for the first time, adding to local officeholders throughout the Atlanta metro area.

    In Gwinnett County, the state’s second-largest, the Asian vote totalled 8.5%, a record. Dekalb County, the state’s third-largest, also offered election materials in Korean, becoming the first in the state’s 233-year history to offer access to voters in an Asian language.

    At the same time, increasing representation challenges the political power dynamic in the state, which for much of its history has been framed in terms of Black and white voters and elected officials. “With growth in political power comes hatred and a backlash,” said historian Keri Leigh Merritt. Historically, she said, “Black people have been looked at as a threat to white supremacy – but now there are other threats.”

    Merritt pointed to the Reconstruction period, where dozens of Black legislators came to power in Georgia, soon followed by a period of violence that resulted in a lack of representation in the assembly for nearly a century. “A big reason the Reconstruction failed is because no one was held accountable – not the slaveholders, not the Confederates,” she said. “This may be happening again,” she said, pointing to the Trump administration’s incitement of violence against Asian Americans during the Covid pandemic and in the January 6 storming of the US Capitol, and the lack of consequences for such actions to date.

    Nyit Yong stood in the wind outside H Mart on Thursday evening trying to understand things she has seen more of recently than at any time in her two decades of living in Georgia. “Some white Americans, deep down inside, have this stereotype about Asians,” the 49-year-old IT professional said. “But in the last four years, the leader of the country has brought it out.”

    Asian strip mall in Suwanee, GA.
    An Asian strip mall in Suwanee. Photograph: Jesse Pratt López/The Guardian

    She was referring to Trump’s insistence on linking the coronavirus to China or Asia, variously, and how this has encouraged racist expressions from everyday white Americans. Yong said she was concerned for her safety, and that of her daughter, a University of Georgia student. “I texted her yesterday and told her to be careful, to be aware of her surroundings,” she said.

    Like Wichaisack, she brought up the notion of buying guns for protection. “I have Chinese friends who own gas stations – they’ve considered getting guns,” she said.

    Yong also felt heartened by the platforms being afforded to Asian American leaders in Georgia in the wake of Tuesday’s violence. “They bring out our voices, our problems,” she said. She mentioned the visit of Joe Biden to the city. “If I could speak to him,” she said, “I would ask him, does he have a plan to prevent further violence?”

    She also wondered, “Why can a young man have that kind of feeling toward Asian women – where did he get it from? Why do we still have people in this country that are so racist? Who taught him that?”

    Aisha Yaqoob Mahmood is the executive director of the Asian American Advocacy Fund, one of the organizations that has been joining with others to ensure “we’re centering the most impacted” by Tuesday’s violence – the families of the victims, and the communities they come from. Mahmood has lived in Georgia for 22 years, and has seen the number and kinds of organizations like hers multiply during that period. She recalls trying to raise awareness about an incident where a white man shot and killed three Muslim students in neighboring North Carolina, in 2015. “I felt like I was doing it by myself – begging elected officials to pay attention,” she said.

    Now, she and many others are meeting with community members affected by the recent killings, seeking to provide help with anything from translation to legal support.

    Flowers and signs are displayed at a makeshift memorial outside of the Gold Spa.
    Flowers and signs are displayed at a makeshift memorial outside of the Gold Spa. Photograph: Alyssa Pointer/AP

    Victoria Huynh, at CPACS, has also been organizing what she calls “listening sessions” with community members in recent weeks, as concerns have grown over the wave of violence against Asian Americans. People are “traumatized,” she said – “seeing images of violence from around the nation, with someone like our grandfather, our aunt, our uncle.”

    “If this had happened 20-something years ago, it would be different,” she said. “Now, we’re more equipped to respond to something like this.”

    The two organizations and others held a press conference midweek to discuss their response. Mahmood said she hoped that more attention would come to the many different Asian American populations living in the state, and that “Georgia elected officials will see what our needs are”.

    “Our communities have changed,” she said. “We’re hoping Georgia will change along with it.”

    Outside a Korean BBQ Chicken restaurant Thursday night, April Chung said: “It’s time for people to hear us.” The 28-year-old, who arrived to Buford, Georgia from South Korea 10 years ago, said: “This week, I had my heart broken – that this man was aiming for Asians.” She said she was concerned for the safety of her parents, and that “I feel kind of afraid of going to Walmart or [supermarket chain] Kroger.”

    Chung looked at several local Korean-language newspapers from a rack nearby, including one whose reporter had spoken to a witness of the killings. That same day, another local Korean outlet would be the first to speak with the son of one of the victims. Chung said that the outlets, though small, had an advantage over English-language media: community ties, including a shared language. “For Korean culture, when anything happens, we walk together,” she said.

    Asked what she would say to Biden if she could, she fell silent, answering, after a pause: “I’m still emotional.” Then she added: “He would understand what it means to be a victim, what it means to be in a foreign country. By doing that [meeting], I’m hoping the people that think Asians are bad – they might change their minds.”

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    Atlanta shootings: why US hate crime data is so lacking | Mona Chalabi

    Of the eight people killed in Atlanta spas on Wednesday, six of them were Asian women. The police claim it is too soon to know if the suspect was motivated by racial hatred, focusing instead on the idea that the massage parlors were a “temptation for him that he wanted to eliminate”.

    This, of course, ignores the possibility that someone might be motivated by racial hatred and sexism.

    Unfortunately, most statistics make the same assumption. Hate crime data that is gathered by the FBI is often categorized according to a single motivation (such as religion, sexual orientation, race/ethnicity, gender identity). Less than 3% of the hate crimes that were reported in 2019 recorded multiple biases.

    Reality is obviously much more complex than these numbers capture. Many of the victims of Wednesday’s attack were Asian and women and possibly sex workers (police have long identified the spas as places where sex work and possible sexual exploitation regularly occurred). These facts can not be treated in isolation.

    Things get even more complicated when you consider reporting rates. A person’s race and gender identity will affect the likelihood that they will report a hate crime to the police. This is particularly true of sex workers, whose work is is still largely criminalized across the United States.

    So, what numbers are we left with? We could instead look to data on violent victimization that isn’t specifically motivated by hate. It’s imperfect since it includes robberies and assault data.

    A study published earlier this year tried to use a different dataset – the National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS) – to take a closer look at anti-Asian hatred.

    The authors found hate crimes against Asian Americans are more likely to be committed by non-white offenders than hate crimes against Black Americans or Hispanics. They attribute this to the “model minority” stereotype which inspires animosity from other people of color. They also found that hate crimes against Asians are more likely to take place at school and found the same explanation for this difference.

    Lastly, we could look to data gathered by organizations that have a closer connection to the Asian community.

    From March 2020 to February 2021, 3,795 incidents of anti-Asian hatred were reported to Stop AAPI Hate, a nonprofit organization that tracks discrimination against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. They found that verbal harassment (68%) and shunning (21% – ie the deliberate avoidance of Asian Americans) made up the two largest types of reported incidents. Reports showed that discrimination was happening in all kinds of contexts – businesses (35%), street/sidewalk (25%) and online (11%).

    Anti-Asian hatred has been stoked by Donald Trump’s repeated insistence on referring to Covid-19 as the “China virus”. This language reappeared in many of the incidents reported to Stop AAPI Hate – for instance a woman who was approached by two male neighbors that “approached me threateningly on the street, pulled down the corners of their eyes and said, ‘“Go back to Wuhan, bitch, and take the virus with you!’”

    Another report from a woman in Brooklyn says: “A white man catcalled me, then aggressively followed me down the block, and got inches from my face and yelled “Ch*nk!” and “C*nt!” after realizing I was Asian. Lots of neighbors were standing outside their homes and no one intervened.”

    These narratives make it clear that any attempts to separate sexism and racism are meaningless.

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    ‘Our silence is complicity’: Biden and Harris condemn anti-Asian violence during Atlanta visit

    Joe Biden and Kamala Harris have condemned a “heinous act of violence” during a trip to Atlanta, hoping to console a city and Asian American communities rocked by the attack this week that left eight people dead and one injured.

    Delivering remarks on Friday evening at Emory University after a day spent meeting with Asian American community leaders and politicians, the president and vice-president spoke out forcefully against the shooting, in which six of the victims were women of Asian descent, as well as the rise in anti-Asian violence.

    “Hate can have no safe harbor in America,” Biden said, calling on Americans to stand up to bigotry when they see it. “Our silence is complicity. We cannot be complicit.”

    Biden said “it was heart wrenching to listen to” Asian American state legislators and other community leaders discuss living in fear.

    “Racism is real in America. And it has always been. Xenophobia is real in America, and always has been. Sexism, too,” said Harris, calling the shootings a “heinous act of violence”.

    “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.

    “Whatever the killer’s motive, these facts are clear,” Harris added: six of the eight people killed were of Asian descent, seven were women, and “the shootings took place in businesses owned by Asian Americans”.

    The visit comes amid a nationwide surge in verbal and physical attacks against Asian Americans. Biden on Friday expressed support for the Covid-19 Hate Crimes Act, a bill that would strengthen the government’s reporting and response to hate crimes and provide resources to such communities.

    Both Biden and Harris spoke to the rise in anti-Asian violence over the past year, with Biden alluding to the Donald Trump and other Republicans who have repeatedly demonized China for the coronavirus.

    “Words have consequences,” Biden said. “Whatever the motivation [for the shootings] we know this: too many Asian Americans have been walking up and down the streets and worrying. Waking up each morning the past year feeling their safety and the safety of their loved ones are stake. They’ve been attacked, blamed, scapegoated and harassed.”

    “It’s been a year of living in fear for their lives just to walk down their street. Grandparents afraid to leave their homes. Small businesses attacked.”

    “Asian Americans have been attacked and scapegoated” throughout the pandemic, Harris said. “We’ve had people in positions of incredible power scapegoating Asian Americans. People with the biggest pulpits spreading this kind of hate.”

    The gunman targeted two massage parlors in Atlanta and another on the outskirts of the city. Robert Aaron Long, 21, has been charged with the murder of eight people and the assault of another.

    The ethnicity of the victims has prompted a discussion about race and the treatment of Asian Americans, particularly women, in America. The Cherokee county sheriff’s office was heavily criticized after claiming the shootings appeared unrelated to race, and for stating that Long related that he was “having a bad day” when he opened fire at the three spas.

    Flowers and signs at the growing memorial at the scene of two of the massage parlor shootings in Atlanta, Georgia. Photograph: Erik S Lesser/EPA

    Four more victims were named on Friday. Soon Chung Park, 74; Hyun Jung Grant, 51; Suncha Kim, 69; and Yong Yue, 63, were shot and killed at two neighboring massage parlors in north-east Atlanta.

    Delaina Yaun, 33; Paul Andre Michels, 54; Xiaojie Tan, 49; and Daoyou Feng, 44, were killed at a parlor north-west of the city. Elcias Hernandez-Ortiz was also shot, but survived.

    The day after the shootings the Cherokee county sheriff, Frank Reynolds, was the focus of scorn after he said Long “gave no indicators” that his crimes were racially motivated. “We asked him that specifically and the answer was no,” Reynolds said. The seeming acceptance of Long’s statement prompted widespread backlash, with Asian American leaders pointing to the rise in hate crimes against Asians and the stigmatization of Asian women.

    “It looked like a hate crime to me,” Keisha Lance Bottoms, Atlanta’s mayor, told CNN on Thursday night. “This was targeted at Asian spas. Six of the women who were killed were Asian so it’s difficult to see it as anything but that.”

    Bottoms said: “There are many areas of hate that are covered within the definition of a hate crime.”

    In Atlanta, Asian Americans are still trying to come to terms with the shootings. Woojin Kang, a young man of Korean descent, stood on the sidewalk in front of Gold Spa on Thursday evening, the site of one of the shootings, holding a neon yellow sign that read “Asian women’s bodies have been slayed” above the hashtag “#StopAsianHate”.

    “The biggest thing I’m encouraging in my community is to lament. That means to viciously cry out in any way that may manifest. But we need to cry out. We can’t be silent any more,” Kang said.

    “People say Asians are the submissive ones, we’ll be quiet. No. We need to cry out, whatever that looks like. For me, that looked like coming out today with signs, standing on the street.”

    Biden and Harris had already been scheduled to visit Atlanta, as part of a tour designed to laud the recently passed $1.9tn Covid-19 relief bill, but the focus of the visit was changed in the wake of the shootings.

    The shootings came just days after Biden had warned of the rise in violence against Americans of Asian descent. In a speech on 11 March – his first primetime address as president – Biden condemned anti-Asian racism and hate crimes.

    “At this very moment, so many of them, our fellow Americans, they’re on the frontlines of this pandemic trying to save lives, and still, still they’re forced to live in fear for their lives just walking down streets in America,” Biden said during that address. “It’s wrong. It’s un-American. And it must stop.”

    Nearly 3,800 incidents have been reported to Stop AAPI Hate, a reporting center for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, and its partner advocacy groups since March 2020.

    Agencies contributed reporting

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    Biden addresses Atlanta attacks: ‘words have consequences’ whatever the motivation – live

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