Once again, people across the country and in California are shocked and upset about violence against people of Asian descent — this time because of killings in Georgia.
On Tuesday night, a gunman opened fire at three spas in the Atlanta area, killing eight people. The police said on Wednesday that the white man charged with murder in the attacks, Robert Aaron Long, told them he had a sexual addiction and had attacked the massage parlors to eliminate his temptation. The authorities said they did not believe that there was a racial motive for the shootings but had not ruled it out.
However, six of the victims were women of Asian descent, raising fears among Asian-Americans that they are being targeted for attacks because of their ethnic heritage. Nationwide, Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders were the targets of nearly 3,800 hate incidents over the past year, according to a report this week by Stop AAPI Hate, a group that has been collecting data about discrimination against Asian-Americans.
In San Francisco, which has experienced a rash of recent attacks against Asians, Mayor London Breed announced on Wednesday that the police would step up patrols in predominantly Asian neighborhoods. Two attacks occurred just this week, according to The San Francisco Chronicle.
“We have seen a rise of hate crimes against our elderly Asian community, and I want to make it clear that we won’t tolerate it,” Ms. Breed said at a news conference. “San Francisco will continue to support and uplift our Asian community.”
Across the bay, emotions were still raw over the death last week of Pak Ho, a 75-year-old Oakland resident who was punched hard during a robbery, fell and incurred severe brain injuries. Some community members were planning a rally against anti-Asian hate for Saturday.
[See the latest updates on the Atlanta spa shootings.]
On Wednesday, a group of state lawmakers and local officials representing Asian and Pacific Islander communities in California called on Gov. Gavin Newsom to choose an Asian-American or Pacific Islander to be the state’s next attorney general — a call that they said had taken on new urgency.
“We need leadership across our state and the nation to take action,” David Chiu, a member of California’s State Assembly, said at a virtual news conference on Wednesday. “We need to stand up against these hate crimes.”
The call comes as California’s current attorney general, Xavier Becerra, is awaiting Senate confirmation as President Biden’s secretary of health and human services.
Jesse Melgar, Mr. Newsom’s spokesman, said in a statement on Wednesday that the governor was waiting for Mr. Becerra to be confirmed before announcing his pick to replace him.
“He is considering a range of qualified candidates and will announce his decision when one is made,” Mr. Melgar said.
Mr. Newsom, in a statement on Twitter, said, “The attack in Georgia and the racist attacks that have been happening all across our country are abhorrent. Our hearts are with the families of all the victims of this horrific act and the entire AAPI community tonight.”
Mr. Chiu said on Wednesday that having an Asian-American “top cop” would have to be part of a broad slate of efforts, including the creation of a racial bias task force that would bring together “relevant state agencies” to better serve Asian-Americans and other Californians of color who need mental health help or other aid.
But experts said that Asian-Americans occupy something of a racial middle ground, making the conversation around fixes more difficult.
Kyeyoung Park, a professor of anthropology and Asian-American studies at the University of California, Los Angeles, said that Asian immigrants had long been treated as migrant laborers and less than human.
In the case of the spas in Georgia, she said, that “racial capitalism” is intertwined in a damaging way with the sexual exploitation of Asian women over many decades, and particularly Korean women.
“These women, in many cases, were at the bottom of the hierarchy,” she said.
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Here’s what else to know today
Broadway has been shut down for the past year because of the coronavirus, but you can still get a taste of “Hamilton” online — with a virus twist.
A group of seven doctors in Northern California recorded a video adaptation of the hit song “My Shot,” rewriting the lyrics to promote the importance of getting a Covid-19 vaccine shot.
“Yo, I treat the infectious,” one doctor raps. “We’ve vaccinated safely now with decades of practice. Now MMR and polio are things of the past. We’ll have a blast beating this Covid at last.”
Dr. Tony Berger, a Davis physician who helped organize the video, said a colleague, Dr. Andrew Liu, composed new lyrics to the song from Lin-Manuel Miranda’s musical in November, to help reassure people nervous about the vaccines. They then decided to recruit other doctors to turn it into a full-blown public health message, building on the popularity of the hashtag #notthrowingawaymyshot.
“What else is going to end this pandemic?” Dr. Berger said. “The vaccines are the only way. Otherwise this pandemic is going to come roaring back.”
All the performers recorded their parts separately for safety, except for the dance finale, where everyone wore face shields. They posted their creation online last week.
Watch it for yourself below.
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Vindu Goel has lived in California for about half his life, including stints in San Diego, Silicon Valley, San Francisco, and now, Oakland. He is currently an emerging platforms editor on the Audience team.
Jill Cowan grew up in Orange County, graduated from U.C. Berkeley and has reported all over the state, including the Bay Area, Bakersfield and Los Angeles — but she always wants to see more. Follow along here or on Twitter.
California Today is edited by Julie Bloom, who grew up in Los Angeles and graduated from U.C. Berkeley.