In the days and weeks since the March 16 mass shooting in Atlanta that killed eight people and wounded one, Atlanta and the U.S. have not had time to recover from an endless cycle of mass shootings and police shootings. That lack of recovery hasn’t given us time to really tackle or begin to heal from what happened. Truth be told, I’ve never really recovered from being a child and seeing Rodney King beaten by police, or the images of the uprisings that occurred after those officers were found not guilty, or the Mother Emanuel Church Shooting. Let alone any current violence or death I have seen on my timelines in recent days, months, or years.
In Atlanta, we saw the terrible news coverage dissipate into no coverage as the cycle continued. That left me and many others with even more pain, loss, and confusion. I still have questions about what happened and about the people who were killed — particularly the six Asian women whose nationality, gender, and work were all highlighted, misquoted, and misnomered in the aftermath of this senseless killing.
There had already been attacks on the Asian American and Pacific Islander communities even before COVID-19 reared its ugly head. But the rhetoric of former President Donald Trump and his disciples ramped up hate crimes that went nearly unnoticed in some parts of the country until the Atlanta spa shootings. I am not forgetting that we also saw the same rhetoric and heinous acts at the beginning of Trump’s first and only term waged against Muslim and Latinx communities.
Usually when these situations happen, the coverage consists of lazy, sensationalized, and racialized commentary from cable and local corporatized news. I try to avoid these news cycles, because I know something will be missed, left out, or misguided by police narratives or the white gaze.
MSNBC, for example, tweeted and retweeted an article on March 12 with the headline “How Black people can be strong allies to Asian Americans right now.” They received a lot of backlash and have since deleted the tweet. The headline was re-written after the spa shootings, but that headline sparked many conversations not just for its poor timing and the overall missed opportunity to address white supremacy as the key factor, but also because solidarity and unity amongst Black, Asian, and other communities of color are rarely addressed.
I want to take some time to begin addressing the necessity for solidarity and unity as well as what work still needs to be done within our own communities. I want to talk with people doing this work; to hear how our diverse backgrounds still lead to common lived experiences in America.