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Democracy Dies In Darkness

We have seen movies where certain Asian, African, South American, European and Australian families move to the United States and automatically have a dramatically improved life. The American dream, a natural ethos of the United States, an improved life with various branches of Target and Walmart, freedom in the way one lives, was wanted by everyone at one point of time in their lives. Today, the America we once looked up to, mourns the death of eight Asian American women, highlighting the deep rooted racism that is now resurfacing during a pandemic.

The Washington Post’s tagline is “Democracy Dies in Darkness”. Not only is this line terrifying and a depressing take on the future, it somehow resonates with the current times.

The killings of eight people at three massage businesses in Georgia have focused attention on an industry that has long been a target of law enforcement scrutiny. Although many massage parlors are just that — places to get a massage — experts say there are more than 9,000 such businesses in the United States that are fronts for prostitution, and that many of the women working there are being exploited.

Robert Aaron Long, the man charged with killing eight people in a rampage at Atlanta-area massage parlors, spent several months being treated for what he described as a sex addiction and regularly went to massage parlors for sex, one of his former roommates at a halfway house said.

There was an infographic doing the rounds in the early months of 2020, titled “The Countries best suited for a pandemic”. The highlighted countries were the United States, Brazil, Australia and other major European nations. After a year of the pandemic, the death toll is being led by the United States, closely followed by Brazil, Russia and India. The United States has over 600,000 thousand deaths and never-ending cases. But, the pandemic is not the only reason for untimely deaths. A pandemic of increased hatred, xenophobia andd racism has caused the untimely death of various people from different races and skin tones over the past few months, most still don’t have any justice to their name. The violent death of George Floyd, around ten months ago, and the recent spa shootings caused eight people, six of Asian-American descent, prove that America is not the unattainable dream now.

Officials and locals of the state of Georgia have identified the eight women who were killed. The three workers at the spa had one thing in common, they all settled in America in the hope for a better life, following the difficult path of immigrant women before them. The violent end to their lives has opened a window into the experiences of low-wage immigrant Asian and Asian American women in a stigmatized profession, and has ignited a difficult national conversation about race, class and gender in the United States. Their deaths have drawn an outpouring of support for more to be done against violence targeting Asians and Asian Americans. A GoFundMe for one of the victim’s families has raised $2.5 million in one day.

Atlanta Asian Americans are now speaking about the racism they experienced after the violent end to these eight people, the reason for their death being their race. Those women reminded some members of the Atlanta Promise Church youth group of their own mothers and grandmothers, especially those who work long hours in nail salons, restaurants and other small businesses to provide their families with a comfortable, safe life in this stretch of a suburban county where the Asian American population has dramatically grown in recent years.

These shootings, the violent ends to lives, were caused due to trivial matters, like race, nationality and skin colour. As a nation that everyone looks up to, it is a thought-provoking time for every single American, and every other citizen of the world, who still holds hope for starting a new and a better life in the states. After the outbreak of the pandemic, the Asian race was often the victim of many indignities hurled at them. They were considered “infected” and were sneered at, a beginning to racism and xenophobia. For once, I don’t want the Washington Post to be proved right.

Written by Shreya Datta

Illustrated by Urvi Agarwal

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