The Irina Project (TIP) condemns the March 16 shootings at three Atlanta massage businesses and mourns their victims: Xiaojie Tan, 49; Daoyou Feng, 44; Hyun Jung Grant, 51; Soon Chung Park, 74; Suncha Kim, 69; Yong Ae Yue, 63; Delania Ashley Yaun, 33; Paul Andre Michels, 54. Six of the eight people killed were Asian women; their murders were fueled by a shameful history of race and gender-based violence against the AAPI community.
As media researchers, we recognize the role that news media have played in the creation and perpetuation of stereotypes about Asian women, and that these representations have made them uniquely vulnerable to harassment and violence. We are committed to educating our students to avoid repeating these harms, and to fostering ethical media practices that reflect historical consciousness, empathy and inclusion.
To our journalism colleagues, we acknowledge the challenges of gathering, reporting and explaining news quickly, particularly when that news is horrific, as were these killings. We commend work that has documented the complex and nuanced lives of the victims, incorporating the voices of those close to them, and the expertise of grassroots organizations such as Red Canary Song and Butterfly, to help audiences understand them within broader contexts, including Asian and migrant sex work and the rise in harassment and violence against Asian Americans. Successful reporting will continue to hinge on the ability and willingness of journalists to reject reporting that sensationalizes the story or engages in victim blaming.
TIP encourages journalists to consult the Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA) for guidance in covering the Atlanta shootings and their repercussions, for routine reporting about the AAPI community and for leadership in newsroom diversity.