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03-17-21-philadelphia-stop-anti-asian-american-racism-vigil-sukhmani-kaur

A Philadelphia resident holds a sign reading "Stop Asian Hate" at a candlelight vigil honoring the shooting victims in Chinatown on Mar. 17.

Credit: Sukhmani Kaur

Amid a rampant increase in anti-Asian attacks since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the fatal shooting of eight people — six of whom were Asian — in the Atlanta area on Tuesday has left the Asian American and Pacific Islander community, including myself, stunned and outraged.

The Daily Pennsylvanian condemns any form of racial violence and mourns the killings of Delaina Ashley Yaun, 33; Xiaojie Tan, 49; Daoyou Feng, 44; Paul Andre Michels, 54; Soon Chung Park, 74; Hyun Jung Grant, 51; Suncha Kim, 69 and Yong Ae Yue, 63.

As an Asian American from metropolitan Atlanta — my birthplace and home of over 20 years — I am in shock, and I fear for my family’s safety, as well as my own. Being unable to walk the streets of my hometown without the fear that I could be a victim of anti-Asian hate — the same hate that took the lives of six Asian women just a short drive from my house — is both infuriating and saddening. 

The Atlanta shooting is a grim reminder of the disgusting racism and xenophobia Asian Americans continue to face as the pandemic continues. Tied to racist rhetoric, such as former President Donald Trump’s labeling of COVID-19 as the “Chinese virus” and “kung flu,” anti-Asian hate crimes have increased by 150% in 16 cities in the last year. Stop AAPI Hate, an AAPI advocacy group, reported nearly 3,800 hate-related incidents from March 2020 to February 2021. Asian Americans fear for their safety in a country plagued with anti-Asian racism, and that is unacceptable.

The suspect’s claim attributing the fatal shooting to his sexual addiction points to a larger history of the hypersexualization and fetishization of Asian women — Penn students’ accounts of which have been reported on by 34th Street in 2018. Stop AAPI Hate data also show that Asian American women are disproportionately targeted by racial violence, making up 68% of the incidents reported by Stop AAPI Hate while men made up only 29%.

For too long, Asian Americans have felt ignored. We have been labeled as the “model minority,” suggesting that we are all successful — that we no longer experience discrimination. I am frustrated and disheartened to see that it took thousands of hate crimes incited by the pandemic and the killing of six Asian women on Tuesday for the discrimination my community faces to be pushed to the forefront of conversation.

As the AAPI community and other community allies break their silence, I urge you — as a member of the Penn community — to not only use the DP as a source of news, but also as a platform through which you can amplify your voice. Submit a guest column or a letter to the editor. Leave comments on our online articles or social media posts. We will continue to solicit the diverse voices of the Penn community and likewise encourage students, faculty, and staff to engage with us and reach out.

The DP is committed to uplifting marginalized and unheard voices, particularly those from underrepresented and underserved communities. We stand in solidarity with the AAPI community and AAPI students, faculty, and staff at Penn to condemn discrimination against Asian Americans and any and all forms of racial violence.

ASHLEY AHN is the 137th executive editor of The Daily Pennsylvanian and is a College junior from Atlanta, Ga. studying East Asian area studies. Her email address is ahn@thedp.com.

All comments eligible for publication in Daily Pennsylvanian, Inc. publications.