The deadly shootings in massage parlours killed eight people, five were women of Asian descent. While the motive behind the attack is unknown, the shootings took place at businesses where the majority of staff were Asian.
88rising, which look after a number of K-Pop artists, were among those to pay tribute to the victims posting a yellow square.
The caption read: “Enough is enough. Heartbroken with the disgusting and senseless violence in Georgia tonight.
“Violence against the Asian community has to stop. Let’s protect each other and stand against hate.”
However, the sentiment was lost and criticised by a number of people who accused 88rising of playing into the racial stereotypes faced by Asians on a daily basis.
I thought the yellow square things was a joke but apparently 88rising is actually trying to make it a thing 😭 https://t.co/SMdEvUymDQ
— Read “Carceral Capitalism” by Jackie Wang (@Read “Carceral Capitalism” by Jackie Wang)
The problematic yellow square carries connotations of the term “yellow peril” historically used to describe the so-called threat of East Asian people to the Western world.
It also serves to divide those from Asia - the largest continent in area and population - which represents a diverse number of ethnicities and communities.
One user wrote: “It doesn’t sit right with me that 88rising posts a yellow square as an act to tackle the issue at hand when most of their artists are Asian people of different ethnicities and skin colour.
“Like if your thought is ‘oh Asian activism = yellow square’ then you might be the problem.”
“Posting a yellow square to show your ‘support for Asians’ is both performative and offensive so please don’t do that?,” a user added.
“The ‘yellow peril’ was a racist colour metaphor that westerners created to emphasise their xenophobia towards Asians. Asia is diverse in skin tones too???”
Another wrote: “Wtf is wrong 88rising?????
“1. Not all Asians are yellow, and it’s disgusting to exclude brown Asians, like Indians. 2. Copying and mimicking something that was used during BLM and black people told y’all that it wasn’t helpful. 3. Whoever did this, everybody needs to get fired.”
The criticism did not go ignored by 88rising who later apologised, and removed the post.
It said: “Thank you to our community for sharing your comments and critiques with us. It was never our intention to cause harm but we recognize the effects of our action and apologise.
”We are not trying to start a yellow square movement, though we understand how it was misinterpreted.”