Story at a glance

  • Eight people were killed in a series of shootings in Atlanta massage parlors on Tuesday, six of whom were Asian women.
  • The attacks follow a steady rise in hate crimes against Asians in the United States over the last year.
  • Several representatives and advocates from the Asian American and Pacific Islander communities gave testimony during a discrimination hearing in Congress.

While their colleagues in the Senate debated border security and immigration reform, the House of Representatives held its first anti-Asian discrimination hearing in decades after the killings of six Asian women in Atlanta brought the violence to national attention. 

"Last year, as I heard, at the highest levels of government, people use racist slurs, like 'China virus,' to spread xenophobia and cast blame on innocent communities, it was all too familiar," said California Rep. Doris Matsui (D), who was born in a Japanese American internment camp and has been outspoken about the racism Asians face in the United States.  


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From the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, the first and only law in American history banning a specific ethnic group from immigrating to the United States, to Japanese internment camps, anti-Asian discrimination has been present throughout American history. Hate crimes against Asian Americans surged last year after the coronavirus outbreak, which President Trump repeatedly called the “Chinese virus.”


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Last month, the Biden administration issued an executive order condemning racism, xenophobia and intolerance against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders as footage of racist attacks against elderly Asian Americans went viral. The president and vice president joined the AAPI community in condemning the violence after the killings of eight people, six of whom were Asian women, in Atlanta on Tuesday. 

 

Matsui was joined by other representatives, as well as prominent members of the Asian American community, including several scholars, activists and actor Daniel Dae Kim. 

"You may consider us 'statistically insignificant' now," said Kim, citing a pollster on the Asian American population, "but one more fact that has no 'alternative,' is that we are the fastest growing racial demographic in the country. We are 23 million strong, we are united and we are waking up."


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Published on Mar 18, 2021