[COMMENTARY] White GA Sheriff Excuses White Supremacist Massage Parlor Shooter

The Asian-American community in Atlanta was shattered on Tuesday by shootings at three separate Asian-owned massage spas that left eight people dead. Six of the victims were young Asian women specifically targeted by the shooter, a white man in his 20s who was overheard by a witness that he wanted to “kill all the Asians”.

#StopAsianHate was trending Tuesday night and well into Wednesday as the online community responded to the tragic and violent news. Mass shootings had almost evaporated during the coronavirus pandemic, a dubious statistic to be sure. But violence against members of the Asian community has also increased in the last year, especially in the wake of Donald Trump’s insistence on referring to COVID19 as the “China Virus”, with others making up even more racist names for it.

Shootings at Atlanta Asian massage parlours leave eight dead | US News |  Sky News

But the outrage over the incident increased even more after the shooter was taken into custody without any issues, because he was a white man in his 20s, and the (white) Sheriff of Cherokee County, where the shooter is being held, caused an uproar when he commented that the shooting wasn’t racially motivated, the young (white) man was just “having a bad day”.

Of course he said that, because they’re both white men, comfortable in their whiteness in the Deep South because they’ve never had to be uncomfortable in their whiteness. They are the Good Ol’ Boy Network, y’all, and as long as you’re male and white, you’re alright.

Full disclosure: I am a white woman who lived in Georgia for eight non-consecutive years. I graduated from the University of Georgia in 1993, when the campus was still segregated to the point that there was a Student Union and a Black Student Union. When my now-ex-husband and I moved back to southwest Georgia after four years in New York City in 1998, we lived in a small town where the population was 80% middle class and rich white people. So I understand these racist white men in Georgia, because they were raised in the traditions of their white forefathers. They boo when the carpetbaggers enter Atlanta whenever they watch “Gone With the Wind” and proudly fly their Confederate flags. They sympathize with each other when a person of color gives one of them a “hard time”. And if that person of color is an Asian woman who’s rejected you sexually, well son, you know how to take care of that.

A radicalized young white man with access to firearms perpetrated a violent crime. A white police officer was able to take him into custody because of the unspoken white guy understanding between them. At least the shooter didn’t get a burger and fries on the way to jail, but to dismiss his crime as “he got a problem with the porns and his sexual frustration led him to slaughter six Asian women” is to delegitimize the lives of those women.

Understanding a pathology is the first step in curing it, but this country has a serious problem acknowledging how the Asian community has been treated. And not just by civilians, but by the government itself.

We have a lot of work to do as a nation when it comes to acknowledging the uglier side of humanity. Try being an ally to the communities you weren’t born into instead of pretending they don’t exist or believing they’re inferior no matter what you look like. We’re never going to evolve if we don’t start seeing each other as the equals we’ve always said we were.

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