COLORADO SPRINGS — Let's have a conversation about race. Asian-Americans across the country say hate is behind the recent shootings in Atlanta.
Although the majority of the victims in the shooting were Asian women, investigators say the suspect claims he was battling sex addiction, and therefore targeted massage parlors. Law enforcement officials are not calling this act of evil, a hate crime yet.
"If that were the case he could of picked any establishment but he drove around and went to Asian-American establishments," said Russel Jeung, Co-Founder of Stop AAPI Hate.
Many historians are now pointing to the harmful stereotypes that still exist, especially towards Asian-American women.
"Chinese migrant women were stereotyped as prostitutes in the second half of the 19TH century," said Catherine Ceniza Choy, a Professor of Ethnic Studies at the University of California.
"There's also this perpetual foreigner stereotype, this outsider racialization that we're getting treated as foreigners who don't belong," Jeung.
Then the pandemic only made the hate worse. Last year, lawmakers and political pundits began calling COVID-19, the "China virus" and the "Kung Flu."
"We began to get blamed for a lot of the COVID-19 pandemic," Jeung explained.
Local Licensed Professional Counselor Candidate with Thriveworks, Marie Beltran, says she's not surprised women and elderly Asian-Americans are being targeted the most.
"These are people who can barely defend themselves and that is heartbreaking," Beltran explained. "I'm tearing up talking about this now," she said.
Beltran has some suggestions for Asian-Americans who are having a hard time coping. She says it's important to avoid internalizing the way you've been treated, and share your experiences with people you trust.
"This is definitely the time to create memories with the people you love. Time is so uncertain. Give yourself some care and love. Do things that bring you joy," Beltran said.
Experts say, non-Asian residents in Southern Colorado should speak up against hate when you see it expressed towards others.
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