First Korean-American Congresswoman Urges People To Call Racist Anti-Asian Violence What It Is

Australian dollars in Sydney, Friday, Jan. 15, 2016. (AAP Image/Joel Carrett) NO ARCHIVING

Rep. Marilyn Strickland (D-Wash.) condemned the mass-shooting deaths of six Asian women in Georgia, saying Wednesday that “racially motivated violence must be called out for exactly what it is.”

A day after police arrested a white man, Robert Aaron Long, for shooting and killing eight people — including six women of Asian descent — at three massage spas in Georgia, Strickland spoke from the House floor to give her “deepest condolences” to the families of the victims.

“Racially motivated violence must be called out for exactly what it is, and we must stop making excuses or rebranding it as economic anxiety or sexual addiction,” said Strickland, who is the first ever Korean-American woman in Congress and the first Black member from Washington. Four of the women killed were reportedly Korean.

“As a woman who is Black and Korean I’m acutely aware of how it feels to be erased and ignored,” she said.

Strickland noted that the attack was part of a “meteoric rise of violence” against Asian Americans over the past year, and that too often “the default position when violence is committed against people of color or women is to defer from confronting the hate that is often the motivation.”

Law enforcement officials said Wednesday that it was “too early” to say whether the shootings were racially motivated and that Long told investigators he has “sexual addiction” issues and targeted the spas to “take out that temptation.” Law enforcement described Tuesday as a “really bad day” — for the shooter.

Since the start of 2020, Asian Americans have reported a surge in racist attacks and harassment, often related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Hate crimes targeting members of the Asian American and Pacific Islander community rose by 150% in major U.S. cities last year, per a report by the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University.

Since last March, a coalition of Asian American advocacy groups called Stop AAPI Hate has been collecting reports of racist incidents. By the end of last month, it had recorded an alarming 3,795 reports of racist violence against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders who had been called racial slurs, spat on, physically assaulted and even killed. And women made up two-thirds of those targeted by the reported anti-Asian racism.

There is a long, ongoing history of Asian women being fetishized and sexualized in the U.S. and globally — and this intersects directly with racism.

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