Enough is enough — the Atlanta killings origins.

Will Yoo
5 min readMar 20, 2021

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“…while this is being done I invite the attention of Congress to another, though perhaps no less an evil — the importation of Chinese women, but few of whom are brought to our shores to pursue honorable or useful occupations.” — Ulysses S. Grant, December 7, 1875

“Living everyday in the presence of those who refuse to acknowledge your humanity takes great courage” —

Minjin Lee, Pachinko

There are few stories of working class Asian women published in this country. For their stories to be front and center took a tragedy.

Part of what we can do to honor these women is share their stories.

My Mother is the strongest woman I have ever known. But she is now almost sixty five years old. I hear her voice getting weaker. She does not speak English very well and never has. Like these women she worked in a blue collar job with other Asian men and women for over two dozen years. She worked insanely hard to raise two kids (my sister and I) as a single mother. We lived on Long Island, in a safe and wealthy area (she chose Long Island so that we had a good education at a respected high school). But we always knew we were poor.

I haven’t seen her in over a year. COVID has not made things easy, our family was apart for the holidays this year. She lives on the opposite coast of my sister and I, so we rarely see her. Since she’s getting older my sister and I have been thinking we should all live closer together. I had the idea of moving her to the Koreatown in Atlanta, Georgia. My sister agreed she needed a Korean community and it would be good for her. We’d all be within a few hours driving distance from one another again. We planned this in the last month.

Then, a 21 year old killer shot eight people in Atlanta. Six of them were Asian women. Two were white. Four of them were Korean. They worked in an industry with a history of employing hyper-sexualized Asian women. They were all poor, a few lived in the buildings of the businesses as their home. The victims in the killings and my Mother are part of a history of vulnerable, and oppressed Asian women. They work hard in industries which exploit their Asian history and identity. They do not speak english and cannot access other employment opportunities.

The killer viewed his victims as “temptations” of his sex addition that had to be “eliminated.” He denied claims his killings were race related. To take the victim’s story out of context is to dishonors their unique suffering. The first federal immigration law in this country was a ban on hyper-sexualized Asian women. It was the 1875 Page Act. The act banned Asian women suspected of prostitution. For hundreds of years the Asian women has been symbolic of lust, fear and entitlement. The killer’s sex addiction, his fetishization of Asian women, the historic treatment of vulnerable women of Asian decent, their occupied place in American society — these are intertwined and undeniable pieces of our country’s history.

We are still learning about the victim’s. One of the victim’s is Hyun Jung Grant, 51. She was a hard working single-mother of two kids. Her oldest son is 23 years old. Hyun Jung Grant is the woman that reminds me most of my Mother, our family, and our shared story. Emily Tan was another victim. Tan was able to go from being a nail tech to owning two businesses within the span of 15 years. She had dreams of traveling the world.

My Mom recently texted my sister and I concerned for our safety. She said to wear a mask and sunglasses at all times to hide our Asian identities. But she is the one in real danger. My sister and I as native speakers have a certain level of protection. As a poor, elderly, single Asian women she has always been the real target. She is invisible to people like this killer. She was recently vaccinated and now she wears the mask again to hide her Asian face.

March 16th 2021: women, Asians, the poor, the vulnerable, the marginalized. Attacked and taken from this world. In this moment of pain, I reflect on the state of our communities, our society, and the path we must pave forward.

“Because the sunset, like survival, exists only on the verge of its own disappearing. To be gorgeous, you must first be seen, but to be seen allows you to be hunted.” ― Ocean Vuong, On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous

Endnotes

  • Part of what we can do to remember these women is share their stories. Few talk about them. Pachinko by Min Jin Lee is one about Korean women and their stories.
  • Many industries exploiting Asian women are awful. Asian women are the vast majority of employees in Nail Salon industry. 40–50% of all employed are Vietnamese women. Working in a nail salon means inhaling toxic fumes non-stop for years. More here
  • Please consider donating to the Park family. Him and his brother need help. https://www.gofundme.com/f/in-memory-of-hyunjungkim-to-support-my-brother-i
  • Support local Asian owned businesses and restaurants. It’s one of the ways we can support the buildup of wealth in Asian American communities.
  • Has the US actually seen a surge in Asian hate crimes? Yes. See breakdown here. Crimes against women are 2x more prevalent.
  • Sex addiction as a reason for killing is a dubious claim. More here
  • Please consider donating so these family’s can afford funerals and accommodations.
  • Some have asked on My Mom’s move. There is a chance Washington DC but plans are up in the air. Most important is that she feels safe. Personally, I am doing okay. I do not need any personal support right now. I’d prefer you donate to the Park family and share the victim’s stories. As well as consider your own role and what you can do in these times. Open to suggestions.

In rememberance #SayTheirNames

Delaina Ashley Yaun, 33

Xiaojie Tan, 49

Daoyou Feng 44

Paul Andre Michels, 54

Hyun Jung Grant, 51

Soon Chung Park, 74

Suncha Kim, 69

Yong Ae Yue, 63

Their stories

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2021/03/18/stop-asian-hate-atlanta-shooting-victim-mother-business-owner/4754151001/

https://apnews.com/article/georgia-shootings-spas-atlanta-veterans-1d1c66455b236f89be4e7da4a4cc21ab

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/mar/18/atlanta-shootings-victim-delaina-ashley-yaun

https://www.thedailybeast.com/son-of-atlanta-shooting-victim-hyun-jung-grant-calls-bullshit-on-robert-aaron-long-sex-addiction-claim

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