BTS release emotional letter calling to #StopAsianHate after Atlanta salon shootings

Isobel van HagenShannon McDonagh
Tuesday 30 March 2021 10:32
news
(Getty Images)

BTS have released a powerful message as part of the #StopAsianHate movement, which gained huge momentum after six Asian women were killed in shootings in Atlanta earlier this month.

Posting a letter to Twitter alongside the hashtag, as well as the hashtag #stopAAPIhate, the K-pop group said they felt “grief and anger” about what happened, adding: “What our voice must convey is clear. We stand against racial discrimination. We condemn violence.”

The group described their experiences as “inconsequential” compared to the events of the past few weeks, but said such incidents “chip away” at their self esteem.

“We recall moments when we faced discrimination as Asians,” the statement said. “We have endured expletives without reason and were mocked for the way we look. We were even asked why Asians spoke in English.”

The letter has been widely shared by their millions of followers, who have thanked them for using their influence to spread awareness.

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You can read the group’s letter in full here:

The letter has also received responses from across the world, including from British public figures such as Labour MP Zarah Sultana.

People have been looking for ways to help and be in solidarity with Asian and Asian American communities, after a white gunman attacked three massage parlors in Georgia, killing eight people, including six women of Asian descent.

The incident stirred considerable outrage and fear in the Asian-American community, which has already been subjected to a rise in pandemic-fueled attacks, in part triggered by rhetoric from former US President Donald Trump who repeatedly referred to coronavirus as “China virus”.

“I think the reason why people are feeling so hopeless is because Asian Americans have been ringing the bell on this issue for so long... We’ve been raising the red flag,” Aisha Yaqoob Mahmood, executive director of the Atlanta-based Asian American Advocacy Fund, told the Associated Press at the time.

There was also outrage that the 21-year-old suspect, who has been charged with eight counts of murder, was not immediately charged with a hate crime. Police said he told them the attack was not racially motivated, and he claimed that he targeted the spas because of a “sex addiction”. Investigators said they had not ruled out bias as a motivating factor.

The immediate aftermath of the attacks also created a wave of online support, with the hashtag #StopAsianHate trending on Twitter shortly afterwards.

Police also came in for widespread criticism after the sheriff’s office spokesman Captain Jay Baker said the suspect was “having a bad day”.

Along with the hashtag, those who had the energy gave advice and share resources on ways people can help a community that has suffered skyrocketing harassment in the US.

Nearly 3,800 incidents of anti-Asian hate, discrimination or attacks have occurred from March 2020 through February 2021, according to Stop AAPI Hate – a group that tracks acts of racism, discrimination and xenophobia against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the US.

People also asked how they could help in the battle against racism. While new anti-hate crime legislation is set to be introduced in congress, here are some ways that have been recommended to help #StopAsianHateCrimes.

Where to donate:

Many people online have suggested to donate money to groups already doing important anti-racist, anti-xenophobic work, such as Asian Americans Advancing Justice, Hate Is A Virus, and many more here.

New York Magazine has also shared a list of over 60 ways you can donate to Asian communities.

Some recommended actions:

  • Reach out to your Asian friends and colleagues – but don't ask them to educate you
  • Just listen: “im begging you to listen to the asian community right now. there has been so many attacks against our community that have literally gone unnoticed by the media and the country,” one person wrote on Twitter, along with a helpfully long list of resources.
  • Call or e-mail your legislators and ask what they are doing for the Asian community.

Remember, research and read before you share:

While it is good to amplify information, many people share social posts on platforms like Instagram and Twitter without looking into it. Make sure the posts your sharing are rooted in facts, or you could be spreading misinformation.

What not to do:

No one is interested in the ‘yellow square’ Instagram post; as one person wrote on Twitter, “remember; don’t post a yellow square in faux-solidarity”. Others also suggested being sure to be inclusive, and to not only support those who are East Asian.

More policing and carceral solutions are also not the right move, many people online said.

As Connie Wu pointed out last week, “There are now private security guards, vigilantes, and mobile police stations in our neighborhood. That doesn’t make us safe. Our communities working in solidarity keep us safe”.

What to do if you see anti-Asian racism

Hollaback!, an organization working to end harassment, is offering free bystander intervention training geared to aiding the Asian and Asian American communities. Sign up!

Stop AAPI Hate recommends these five safety steps if you are a witness to anti-Asian racism:

  • Take action. Go to the targeted person and offer support.
  • Actively listen. Before you do anything, ask – and then respect the targeted person's response. If need be, keep an eye on the situation.
  • Ignore attacker. Try using your voice, body language or distractions to de-escalate the situation (though use your judgment).
  • Accompany. Ask the targeted person to leave with you if whatever is going on escalates.
  • Offer emotional support. Find out how the targeted person is feeling and help them determine what to do next.

All in all, people suggest the simple steps of listening, learning, and amplifying others, rather than sharing a million social media posts without thinking.

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