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Celebrities in the United States lent their platforms to a movement fighting to end violence against Asian-Americans, with many of them speaking up following a series of attacks around Atlanta that killed 8 people, most of them of Asian descent.
On March 16, an attacker started shooting at a massage parlor, leaving 4 dead and one wounded. An hour later, 3 people were found dead at a massage spa, and one person found dead in another spa across the street. Six of the 8 victims were of Asian descent, and two were White.
A suspect believed to be responsible for all 3 attacks has since been taken into custody, though officials claim there is no early indication of the shootings being racially motivated.
Following the attacks, many celebrities of Asian descent took to social media to condemn the killings.
Lost actor Daniel Dae Kim took to Instagram on March 17 to share screenshots of a news report, as well as various tweets about the attacks. In the caption, he included a quote from civil rights hero Martin Luther King Jr: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere,” and urged his followers to speak up. He tagged his posts with the hashtags “#StopAsianHate” and “#enoughisenough.”
Daniel has been a vocal about ending the violence against Asian-Americans. In February, he, along with actor Daniel Wu, previously offered a $25,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of a suspect in the assault of a 91-year-old Asian man was pushed to the ground in Oakland’s Chinatown in California.
Crazy Rich Asians star Gemma Chan shared similar screenshots on her Instagram, and asked people to pay attention to the attacks against Asians.
“We need to stop the dehumanization of Asians. We need to stop the scapegoating of Asians for COVID. We need to unite against all forms of hate,” she said. “Please spread awareness, check in on your Asian friends because we are not ok.. educate yourself and others on the model minority myth and the long history of anti-Asian racism…Please don’t be silent.”
On Instagram stories, Gemma’s Crazy Rich Asians co-star Awkwafina shared screenshots of news reports on the attacks, and also said that people need to remember the victims, instead of pay attention to the attacker.
“He does not deserve the attention he clearly was seeking. We need to remember the lives stolen and what their families are going through,” she said.
To All The Boys star Lana Condor went on Twitter to urge her followers to check on and support their Asian friends and family.
Never Have I Ever creator Mindy Kaling said that while the attacks are “sickening, but not surprising given the normalizing of anti-Asian hate speech in the past year.”
Premium Rush star Jamie Chung pointed out how the Asian community has become “a scapegoat for a global pandemic,” and urged the media to call the attacks “domestic terrorism hate crimes against Asians.”
Bullets over Broadway actress Jennifer Tilly shared an old photo of her grandparents, who came to the US from China. “America is built on the backbone of hard-working immigrants,” she said on Twitter, using the hashtag #StopAsianHate.
Rapper Ruby Ibarra said she was “at a loss for words” over the attacks, and asked people to “continue to protect thosse that are most vulnerable.”
Drag queen Kim Chi simply said “just let us live.”
Other celebs outside the Asian community also reacted to the killings.
Singer and make-up mogul Rihanna said she was “heartbroken” for the Asian community, and noted that the killings were not an isolated incident: “AAPI (Asian American and Pacific Islander) hate has been rampantly perpetuated and it’s disgusting!”
Actress Jessica Chastain tweeted “It’s a hate crime not ‘a bad day,’” referring to Georgia police officer Jay Baker’s statement saying that the attacker was having “a really bad day” when he started shooting.
Singer John Legend said that the attacks were “absolutely horrible,” and that the US “needs to reckon with the increased threats being directed at our Asian-American brothers and sisters.”
The Atlanta shooting is only the most recent in a string of attacks against Asian-Americans.
On March 11, a 75-year-old man from Hong Kong died in Oakland after being punched during his morning walk by a man with a history of targeting elderly Asians.
In a similar incident in February, an 81-year-old Thai immigrant died after being violently shoved to the ground as he was walking in his neighborhood in San Francisco.
Also in February, a 61-year-old Filipino-American man was slashed across the face on the New York subway after he confronted a man for kicking his tote bag.
According to the group Stop AAPI Hate, they recorded nearly 3,800 hate incidents against Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders in the US from March 19, 2020 to February 28, 2021, with the number representing “only a fraction” of the actual hate incidents that occur. The group was formed in March 2020, “in response to the alarming escalation in xenophobia and bigotry resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.” – Rappler.com