Should the Atlanta Shooting be Tried as a Hate Crime?

People hold placards during a

Shanon Stapleton

People hold placards during a “Stop Asian Hate” rally, following the deadly shootings, in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S., March 20, 2021. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

Hosanna Eyob, Staff Writer

The Atlanta spa shooting that occurred on 16 March 2021 resulted in 8 dead women, 6 of whom were of Asian descent. Controversy has arisen regarding the reasoning behind this horrendous event and it has yet to be tried as a hate crime, which it should be.

 A hate crime is “a prejudice-motivated crime which occurs when a perpetrator targets a victim because of their membership (or perceived membership) of a certain social group or racial demographic.” It was not a coincidence that all the independent spas Robert Long targeted were Asian-owned or consisted of predominantly Asian workers.

It is important to take the time period we are currently living in into account. Anti-Asian hate crimes have spiked severely upon the spark of the COVID-19 pandemic as the blame for the virus has been placed on them. 

White supremacy has successfully managed to change forms again and harm a minority group through this heinous act of scapegoating, yet this stereotype of Asian people being at fault for disease spreading predates COVID. 

This age where hatred for Asian people has been at an all-time high in itself would be a reasonable argument to explain the Atlanta spa shootings, but another issue should also be examined which is the fetishization of Asian women.

Asian women have been plagued with the stereotype of being subservient but also perceived as excessively sexual, and the fact that they are a minority group makes them characterized as having an “exotic” appeal. The phenomenon of “yellow fever” is rooted in this distorted perception of Asian women which has also become quite normalized in American society.

This fetishization of Asian women often leads them to be seen as sex objects, so violence against them also comes unwarranted, since they are already dehumanized through these negative tropes.

Not to mention that women, in general, are faced with disproportionate amounts of violence by men as a result of misogyny, which leaves them victim to things like femicides and domestic abuse.

Now taking these factors into account, analyzing the fact that Long’s reasoning for his atrocious acts was a “sex addiction,” and that he would often go to these spas to fulfill his twisted fantasies, is observably tied with the unfortunately common hypersexualization of Asian women.

As a white man, white supremacy benefits Long more than anyone else, and the concepts of white supremacy would very likely be present within his mind as racism is still a large issue within America. 

His targets unjustly fell victim to the jaws of white supremacy and their race definitely played a role in why they were targeted, along with them being women. 

It is unreasonable to claim this event was not a hate crime, as he placed the blame for his uncontrolled sexual tendencies onto a group of people who have been historically hypersexualized and degraded for the intersectional nature of their identities.