The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Racism and Sexism Walk Hand in Hand in Atlanta Shooting

Mar 29, 2021

A 21-year-old man drove to three locations in the suburbs of Atlanta and murdered eight people on March 16. When he was apprehended by police, Robert Long said he was on his way to Florida to kill more people.

Six of the seven murdered women were of Asian descent. The killer was targeting Asian massage businesses.

The eight became victims simply for being at a workplace! The seven women and one man who died were all honored by family and friends as kind, incredibly hard working people, deeply devoted to family.

Killed for Being at Work

Soon Chung Park, age 74, worked 12 hour days as a housekeeper and cook for her coworkers. Her husband, who painted houses and drove for Lyft, said their combined income last year was about $30,000.

Hyun Jung Grant was a 51-year-old single mother who had been a teacher in South Korea before coming to the U.S. She worked long hours to pay for college tuition for her two sons.

Yong Ae Yue, age 63, came to the U.S. after marrying an American soldier. She always worked several jobs, according to a close friend and her son whom she helped send to Morehouse College.

Suncha Kim, age 69, worked part-time and previously washed dishes and cleaned office buildings.

Xiaojie Tan, known to friends as Emily, age 49, was part owner of Young’s Asian Massage and worked 12 hour days.

Delaina Ashley Yaun Gonzalez—age 33 and the mother of two, was killed while a customer. She worked at Waffle House as a server. Known for sheltering and feeding homeless friends and family, she was there for a pain management massage with her husband, a mechanic.

Less is known about Daoyou Feng, age 44, who had worked there only a few months.

Paul Andre Michels, age 54, worked as an electrician and was a handyman for the spa. He was an Army veteran originally from Detroit, Michigan.

Survivors Speaking Out

The shooting has allowed Asian Americans to speak out about how unsafe they feel. A recent Harris poll found 75% of Asian Americans report they fear increased hate and discrimination toward them.

In the wake of the shooting, women activists are speaking up and telling the truth about how the prejudice and stereotypes pushed by the rulers of this society put them in danger and belittle them.

An Asian American woman who is a journalist said, “Every time I am called a ‘chink’ or hear a part of my body appraised by a stranger, I feel ... heat rising within me.... Misogyny and racism have never lived neatly in their separate categories.”

The shooter saw himself as having a “sex addiction” and told police he killed to “eliminate temptation.” He was a member of a Southern Baptist Church (SBC) that has repudiated these murders, but not the ideas that led to these murders.

“Ideas have consequences,” according to Rachael Denhollander, a women’s abuse advocate. “Teachings that place the burden and blame for men’s sexual addictions on women are rampant in conservative theological circles.... Women [are] viewed first and foremost through the lens of their sexuality—characterized either by the danger they posed to a godly man, or as a God-given tool to satiate men so they could avoid the sin of lust.” It is a barbaric mindset that can be deadly.

Imperialism Breeds Racism

Those in power in capitalist society pin their ideas on the population. U.S. foreign wars in the Philippines, in Japan, in Korea, and in Vietnam have been shown to coincide with upticks in the objectification of Asian women. The treatment of women ends up reflecting the power inequalities between U.S. imperialism and the Asian countries it controls.

The capitalist class and their profit machine have defined roles that they expect to be met by all that they oppress.

The racist, sexist nature of U.S. society will not be fixed by reform. But growing popular anger against racism, sexism and dangerous workplaces can plant the seeds for the working class fight that is needed to overturn this rotten society.