One Year Later: The JACL Reflects on the Metro Atlanta Spa Shootings

On March 16th, 2021, eight lives were tragically taken across three spas in the Atlanta metro area. Of the eight victims, six were Asian women. The victims were targeted by the perpetrator precisely because they were Asian women. Today, we honor and grieve the lives of those lost, and reaffirm our commitment to confronting the pernicious stereotypes that lead to violence against AANHPI women.


The murders that took place in Atlanta are a stark reminder of the dehumanization and violence that women, especially women of color, have long endured. The damaging stereotypes and harmful misconceptions that exist in our society perpetuate adverse attitudes that oppress and minimize women of color. Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) women have been subjected to maltreatment for centuries. It is the responsibility of all of us in positions of advocacy to challenge these hackneyed beliefs and to expose the racism and patriarchal biases that work in tandem to sustain systems that serve to control and oppress AANHPI women.


The JACL vehemently denounces any form of sexism and racism, especially when weaponized against women. The safety and well-being of women is a human rights issue, and without acknowledging this fact, the number of sexist and racist incidents will continue to rise. According to a national report published by Stop AAPI Hate, of the 10,905 anti-Asian hate incidents that took place between March 19, 2020, to December 31, 2021, women were the victims in 61.8% of those cases. This striking number confirms the immediacy of this issue. Since the New Year, four murders involving Asian women have been reported: the murders of two women in New York, and the homicide of two women at two separate Asian-owned businesses in New Mexico.


We must work together to protect AANHPI women from this violence that is clearly related to race and gender. The stereotypes that systematically work to strip them of their humanity, and in some cases their lives, also affect trans women who experience the highest levels of violence and harassment. We stand behind all women and affirm to do our part to dismantle the systematic racism that perpetuates xenophobia and the persecution of AANHPI women.