On March 16th, 2021, an armed individual murdered 8 individuals including 6 Asian women. The New York Times covered the incident in its many angles in an article found here. The 21-year-old assailant put an abrupt stop to these individuals’ lives in an attempt to curb “temptation” from his life, a posture that centers the conversation around a man “having a bad day” rather than the lives irrefutably cut short. His name will not be shared in this post, but the names of the victims will be remembered: Xiaojie Tan, Daoyou Feng, Soon Chung Park, Hyun Grant, Suncha Kim, Yong Ae Yue, Delaina Ashley Yaun Gonzalez, and Paul Andre Michels. You can read more about their lives here.
When I first heard news of the attack, I immediately tried to compartmentalize it. This past year has been tumultuous for many reasons and the slew of race-related crimes have eroded my spirit. When I saw that a majority of the victims were Asian women I thought about the continued rise of anti-Asian violence and felt dissociative— I thought to myself “I cannot handle this right now.” I was afraid to confront the situation and by not reading into the details, I could suspend the incident from reality. The next day, the emotions hit me all at once. These victims did not have the opportunity to excuse themselves from this unpleasant news. Their families wake up every day and have to deal with the repercussions.
With time and much reflection, I have decided to use my platforms to have a more active voice and start important conversations. Here is the website for Stop AAPI Hate, an organization dedicated to providing resources and documenting Asian American and Pacific Islander hate crimes. According to Stop AAPI hate, there have been over 3,800 cases of hate crimes directed towards individuals of Asian descent in the past year, although this number needs to be tempered by the fact that many crimes go unreported. You can read the article that information was pulled from here.
While Asian American violence has been on the rise, it is also important to remember the other lives affected by systemic racism and injustice. March 13th marks the one-year anniversary of Breonna Taylor’s death. Continue to say her name and amplify Black voices. Color of Change is an organization that creates campaigns to combat racial injustice. They have taken stances on criminal justice, economic justice, and voting rights, among other critical issues. If you are not sure where to start, you can begin the conversation by asking a question. Why is this happening? Why does my perception of the situation differ from others? What can I do to understand? No one is born racist, but it is a system that permeates every area of life. It’s only by taking an active stance and intentionally being anti-racist that you begin to recognize the racist tendencies that we all have and sever yourself from our country’s unjust past.
(Harry Riel, Assistant Hall Director; Hall Council Advisor | Hammons House; Student Affairs Graduate Association Cohort 14 Co-Liaison, Residence Life, Housing and Dining Services; Practicum Student for Family Programs & Student Affairs Special Events. )