It’s already been a heartbreaking and devastatingly unrelenting year of blatant, dehumanizing and violent acts of racism. It’s echoed four years of ever-escalating incidents in the same vein, not to mention centuries of a state of rotten affairs that is as American as apple pie.
I don’t know about you, but I’m exhausted and completely over the cultural tolerance of racism in this country that allows injustices of the kind that stole the lives of six Asian women in Atlanta on Tuesday.
You know who doesn’t seem tired? Law enforcement.
Just hours after 21-year-old Robert Long drove across Atlanta, stopping at Asian-owned spas and systematically killing the women of Asian descent in them (along with two white victims, a man and a woman), Capt. Jay Baker of the Cherokee Sheriff’s Office gave a press conference Wednesday, during which you might have thought he was Long’s defense attorney.
“He understood the gravity of it,” Baker said, describing the mass killer’s feelings. “He was pretty much fed up, kind of at the end of his rope, and yesterday was a really bad day for him, and this is what he did.”
Excuse me while I try not to vomit out my disgust, outrage and disbelief at this heinous statement from a law enforcement officer the morning after several people lost their lives at the hands of a maniac who, unsurprisingly, managed to be taken into police custody unscathed.
It’s almost a cliche, at this point, to say that it’s impossible to imagine any police officer in this country giving a similarly empathetic description of a non-white man suspected of mass murder. Black men, women and children, have been beaten, pepper-sprayed, choked, shot with ketamine and multiple bullets while experiencing mental health episodes, walking home from convenience stores and for holding everything from sandwiches to cellphones.
Asian American and Pacific Islander communities in the U.S. are already living in fear amidst an upsurge in hate crimes that has continued since the coronavirus reached our shores when the former president quickly launched his racist habit of tying the deadly disease to China, which more racists have followed by casting the blame for the pandemic on random Asian people.
The family and loved ones of all those killed by Long in Atlanta last night are undoubtedly in deep mourning.
But apparently Capt. Baker couldn’t help himself from telling the country that the victims’ alleged killer was just “having a really bad day,” when he reportedly chose to hunt them down and shoot them.
It’s deeply disturbing whenever we are reminded how far into the realms of inhumane, unbelievable behavior that defenders of whiteness will go to diminish, explain away and understate that very heinous behavior.
What hope do we have for this sickness of white supremacist violence to end if, in a tragedy where women of color were obviously targeted, the people in charge of criminally investigating it are publicly empathizing with the assassin in the IMMEDIATE aftermath?
Indeed, Capt. Baker made sure to publicly pass on the suspect’s word that his actions were “not racially motivated,” but that the women he killed were a “temptation he wanted to eliminate.”
(I should point out here that Baker actually chose to refer to the places the women worked in as being what the killer wanted to eliminate, again providing cover for the white shooter who in actuality specifically “eliminated” HUMAN BEINGS.)
The Cherokee County Sheriff’s Department has issued a statement that continues to promote the shooter’s own victim-blaming narrative, i.e. that his actions were not racially motivated but in fact, are the fault of the massage parlors where he chose to focus his so-called addiction to sex on.
I’ll pause in sharing my own outrage to lift up the words of members of the Asian American community who are also reeling from this double tragedy of a targeted attack on people who look like them, and then law enforcement’s willingness to parrot the attackers’ excuses in a way that predictably allows for denying the deadly threat and pervasiveness of white supremacy, and for those who are already inclined to turn away from the latest slain bodies which prove its perniciousness.
A lot of us are tired of racism. But too many in America are not even reasonably disturbed by the kind of terrorism that comes from people who look like them.