On March 16th, Robert Aaron Long targeted three massage parlors in the Atlanta, Georgia, area citing a need to eliminate the temptations they provoked. Eight people were shot to death, including six Asian women; their names were Daoyou Feng, Delaina Ashley Yaun Gonzalez, Hyun Jung Grant, Suncha Kim, Paul Andre Michels, Soon Chung Park, Xiaojie Tan, and Yong Ae Yue. While Long has insisted to police that the incident was not a hate crime, according to the Chosun Ilbo, a major Korean language newspaper, one witness recounted Long shouting, “I am going to kill all Asians” before firing in one location.
For many within the AAPI (Asian American and Pacific Islander) community, the recent spike in racially motivated attacks against Asians in the United States has been alarming and disturbing, but comes as little surprise. U.S. history demonstrates that time and time again, Asians have consistently been used as scapegoats, from the whitewashing of railroad construction to Japanese internment to the murder of Vincent Chin to the “China virus”—all the while being labeled the “model minority.” AAPI artists have long been at the forefront of highlighting and unpacking this often invisibilized reality.
We spoke to six artists from across the country who have been working both in and out of the studio to dismantle these types of prejudices to hear how they have been processing this moment in history.