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Fear, Anger In Atlanta’s Asian American, Pacific Islander Community Over Media Coverage

Asian American Journalists Association's Naomi Tacuyan Underwood and Leng Chancey, executive director of the advocacy group 9to5, joined “All Things Considered” and provided guidance for reporters covering the Asian American and Pacific Islander community moving forward.
Asian American Journalists Association's Naomi Tacuyan Underwood and Leng Chancey, executive director of the advocacy group 9to5, joined “All Things Considered” and provided guidance for reporters covering the Asian American and Pacific Islander community moving forward.
Credit Nam Y. Huh / Associated Press

Last week’s shootings at multiple Atlanta spas that left eight people dead, most of them women of Asian descent, have opened up an underbelly of generalizations and “victim shaming” in the media,  according to local Asian American and Pacific Islander community members who have been following the aftermath of the killings.

WABE’s health reporter Sam Whitehead took over “All Things Considered” this week and spoke with Asian American Journalists Association’s Naomi Tacuyan Underwood and Leng Leng Chancey, executive director of the advocacy group 9to5 about guidance for reporters covering and contextualizing the AAPI community moving forward.

Since the violence on March 16, the AAJA has put out a list of best practices that AAPI journalists encourage the media to follow, including being cautious about language in news coverage that could fuel the hypersexualization of Asian women.

On Friday afternoon, WABE learned the identities of the last four victims, all of them identified as Asian women by the Fulton County Medical Examiner’s Office. They were killed at two of the spas targeted on Piedmont Road — the Gold Massage Spa and the Aromatherapy Spa.

The Fulton Medical Examiner’s Office and family members identified the women as Soon Chung Park, 74; Hyun Jung Grant, 51; Suncha Kim, 69; and Yong Ae Yue, 63.

The Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office identified the four victims who were killed at Young’s Asian Massage near Woodstock. They are Delaina Ashley Yaun, 33; Paul Andre Michels, 54; Xiaojie Yan, 49; and Daoyou Feng, 44.

Meanwhile, Atlanta police note that “nothing is off the table” in their investigation of the deadly shootings at two Atlanta massage businesses. That includes whether the slayings were a hate crime.

The Atlanta Police Department also clarified in a statement that the crime spree by the alleged shooter, 21-year-old Robert Aaron Long, who is white, occurred in two different cities in the Atlanta area. Officials wrote that “while the cases are linked by the same perpetrator, our investigations are independent of one another and there are different dynamics to each.”