SOUTHFIELD, Mich. (WXYZ) — "Women are disproportionately impacted by anti-Asian harassment and violence in the past year," said University of Michigan Prof. Melissa Borja, reacting to the killings in Georgia at three massage parlors. "So, this is really only intensifying the fears that Asian American people and Asian American women, in particular, are experiencing right now."
Prof. Borja is part of the university's Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) Task Force that documents and tracks incidents of AAPI hate to understand the impact and offer support.
The victims in Tuesday's string of murders are mostly women and mostly Asian.
Investigators are still trying to determine the killer's motive or motives, but they have not ruled out that it was a hate crime or, reportedly, connected to a sexual addiction.
"The hate and the violence that has been perpetrated, it's very much tied to historical misunderstandings and oppression of Asian Americans and Asian bodies in America, but it's also very much tied, especially in this instance, to the over-sexualization of Asian women," said Mira Simonton-Chao of the United Asian American Organizations at the University of Michigan.
"A lot of it comes to awareness, but it also comes to awareness on different layers, especially considering things like ethnic studies and the lack of ethnic studies in K through 12 education and how having more involvement of ethnic studies in K through 12 education could build prevention of such instances by educating people about the relationships between gender, class, race, and xenophobia."
A vigil for the victims killed in the attacks in Georgia is being planned by the United Asian American Organizations at U-M Ann Arbor. It will take place at the Diag on campus Friday, March 26, from 7:00 p.m. - 8:30 p.m. More details can be found here.