Atlanta is on my mind.
The victims of yet another shooting are on my mind.
Their loved ones and communities are on my mind.
Anti-Asian violence is on my mind.
Misogyny is on my mind.
That the profile of the shooter is so damn consistent is on my mind.
— Rev. Carolyn Patierno, 3.17.2021
These words of Carolyn, a colleague and friend, settled like a welcome prayer today as I absorbed the horrifying news from my home state of Georgia—news of the terrorizing behavior of another young White man, this time against persons who are Asian Americans.
And even as the details are still unfolding, we can state some things with confidence: A White man with a gun violently attacked people at businesses that were run by, staffed by, frequented by Asian Americans. We can predict that media and others will be gentler and more understanding in writing and speaking about the perpetrator and his violence and motivations than they would if he were not a White man. His violence, his anger, his hatred, his sense of entitlement, his lack of role models of healthy masculinity—all of it likely will be explained and sympathized with and maybe even excused. We know that this White man has been influenced by the realities of racism and patriarchy and toxic masculinity and White Supremacy Culture. These realities are the water in which we all swim without even realizing we are wet.
And we know that Asian Americans are being targeted with nasty rhetoric, cruelty, and violence. There has always been prejudice and racism against Asian Americans, and it has grown even more apparent and vitriolic in the past year.
I had other things on my mind—and an entirely different topic to consider in this space—before I learned what happened Tuesday in Atlanta and its suburbs, that six Asian American women are among the eight dead. And yet, this news is a sobering reminder that no matter how much some of us—especially us who live with the advantages of wealth and Whiteness—are feeling confined and contained and slowed-down right now in our pandemic reality, the world continues to exist outside of our immediate experience.
It exists in beautiful and awful ways.
Spring is bringing forth new life. COVID-19 vaccinations are being administered. People are making art and making babies and making new connections.
Marginalized individuals and communities are as vulnerable as ever. Lives are in danger. Transgender children are being discriminated against. Asian Americans are being targeted. Sex workers are being mistreated, shamed. Racism and greed and misogyny are alive and well.
Not all is lost, but neither is all well.
The news from Georgia evokes feelings of sadness, of rage, of determination to do better. And as one blogger reminds us (Dreaming Desires—Take Action: 8 Asian Sex Workers Murdered in Atlanta), this particular horror sheds light on the experiences of multiple vulnerable identities—it’s a clear case of intersectionality.
So, I hope you are taking care of yourself—resting, hydrating, enjoying some fresh air, treating your body with kindness, feeling your own feelings.
And I hope also that you are choosing to pay attention to the world beyond yourself, honoring and respecting the interdependent web of existence of which we are a part. It matters that we name racism and transphobia and sexism and xenophobia—if we ignore them and dismiss them, they fester and spread. And in naming them, we help to inoculate ourselves and our neighbors against their poison. When we know better, we do better.