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Atlanta Shootings: If We Want To #StopAsianHate We Need To Stop Making Excuses For White Terrorists

Photo: Ron Adar / Shutterstock
Atlanta Shootings: If We Want to #StopAsianHate We Need to Stop Making Excuses for White Terrorists

What is there to say? I’m upset, hurt, and angry as an Asian-American woman living in America. 

News sources reported last night that eight people have been murdered in multiple shootings in Atlanta, with six of them being Asian women.

The shooter specifically targeted Asian-owned massage parlors and claimed that he had a "sexual addiction" and that he carried out the shootings to get rid of his "temptation." 

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Ever since the Trump administration scapegoated COVID-19 on China and spread anti-Asian narratives, such as calling it the “Chinese virus” or the “Kung flu," there has been a rise in anti-Asian violence. There have been cases of harassment and assault, growing since last year.

But we must first acknowledge that the U.S. has always spread xenophobic narratives through legislation such as the Chinese Exclusion Act, US occupation of the Philippines, and Japanese internment camps

Now, an atrocity has occurred based on growing xenophobic narratives and anti-Asian sentiment throughout the years, and the media continues to make excuses for white domestic terrorists.

This is not the first time the media has blamed mental health as a reason for a white man to commit such an atrocity. The media has historically always framed white terrorists as having mental health issues, which perpetuates the stigma on mental health. 

Furthermore, shooters of color are always framed as "thugs" or "terrorists." 

Let’s not forget the shooting in Charleston, where nine African Americans were killed by Dylan Roof, a white man. Former FBI special agent Jonathan Gilliam claimed on CNN that Roof “has some mental issues.” Why is this incident any different from terrorism? 

Using mental illness as a scapegoat for white terrorists is a way to ensure that white terrorists can receive sympathy, pin it as a “one-off” situation, and, ultimately, move away from the idea that there is a racial motive. 

We need to stop framing the situation as an act that needs empathy and call it for what it is: white supremacy

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Other media reports have circulated that claim the shooter was "having a bad day" and that it’s "too soon to tell if killings were racially motivated."  

Society is making excuses of white domestic terrorism that allows white terrorism to perpetuate.

This is not a “one-off” incident of someone who had a mental illness or was having a bad day. This person is part of a system that continues to target communities of color

The first thing we need to do as a community is to call this as we see it and not hide behind excuses. There is no excuse for terrorism.

The second thing we need to ensure is that we are not co-opting the Black Lives Matter movement. Using #AsianLivesMatter and re-posting yellow squares will not show solidarity for the AAPI community. 

The third thing that needs to be done is education. Read up on history as anti-Asian sentiment as it is not new.

The last thing that needs to be done: Speak out against anti-Asian racism when it happens. 

It’s time we move away from making excuses for white terrorists and come together as a community to hold them accountable. 

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Angelique Beluso is a sex educator and writer who covers feminism, pop culture, and relationship topics. Follow her @AngeliqueBeluso.