Amid a disturbing surge of biased violence against the Asian American community, everyone from small-business owners to advocacy organizations and celebrities are desperately urging the public to end the hate.
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In the wake of the Atlanta shootings that left eight people, six of whom were Asian women, dead on Tuesday, Asian American business leaders came together to decry the increasing number of hate crimes against the community.
On Wednesday, Ascend, a nonprofit Pan Asian organization for business professionals, released a statement on Twitter in response to the tragedy reading, “We’re deeply saddened by the news of Atlanta violence and growing number of deliberate attacks against Asians across the nation. We condemn these attacks and stand in solidarity with the Asian American community in Atlanta and across the US to #stopasianhate.”
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With more than 18 professional chapters and 40-plus student chapters in both the U.S. and Canada, Ascend is one of the largest Pan-Asian organizations that serves Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) businesspeople. Gold House, a nonprofit collective of Asian Pacific Islander (API) entrepreneurs, also urged the public to support the API community.
“We want you to grieve for these 8 people,” the organization tweeted the night of the shootings. “We want you to check in on your API friends and neighbors. But we also want you to know that we’re fired up and are actively planning tonight. When life gets tough, we get tougher. More to come.”
Georgia officials initially declined to call the shootings a hate crime, asserting that the investigation is still pending. At a press conference, Cherokee County public information officer Capt. Jay Baker suggested that the suspect, who claimed to have been motivated by his sex addiction, had “a really bad day.” Baker was widely criticized for minimizing the epidemic of violence against Asian-Americans, who have been victims of nearly 4,000 reported hate crimes since the pandemic started.
Frustrated, public figures such as fashion designer Prabal Gurung persisted in denouncing the shootings and parallel violence. “Enough is enough,” Gurung tweeted on Wednesday. “Yes, we are grieving, and we want you to grieve with us for these eight lives lost and countless others. We want you to feel our pain and the pain of many innocents elders, women and our people from the AAPI community who have been attacked and harmed.”
In a lengthy Instagram post, restaurateur and film director Eddie Huang echoed Gurung’s sentiments, writing, “This was a coordinated attack on multiple Asian businesses with 6 Asian victims. Stand with us, speak up with us, and if there is any humanity in you, recognize that our pain is yours as well. No one should be targeted and murdered because you don’t like the color of their skin, PERIOD.”
And reflecting Ascend’s concerns, Asian business owners across the country told CNN that they now feel particularly vulnerable. “I have 18 employees, and I have run my salon for 25 years. I am scared,” one unidentified nail salon owner from Long Island shared. “My husband told me that no matter how long I will live in the United States, I will never be seen as an American because of my Asian face.”
The victims who died in Tuesday’s attack have been identified as Xiaojie Tan, Daoyou Feng, Delaina Yaun, Paul Andre Michels, Hyeon Jeong Park and Julie Park. One man, Elcias Hernandez-Ortiz, survived, while two other victims who died in the shooting have yet to be named.