Dr. Chenyi Zhang is from Shanghai, China. He has lived in the Atlanta area for 15 years and is a professor of early childhood education at Georgia State.
Zhang spoke with WABE last year, at the start of the pandemic, when he felt a growing opposition against Asians who were being blamed for the coronavirus making its way to the United States.
Zhang joined “Morning Edition” on Tuesday to express his sentiments after six women of Asian descent were killed during the shooting spree last week that targeted spas in the metro-Atlanta area.
“I’m really thankful that we actually have a platform to express our concern and anxiety toward all of the Asian hate that’s happened since the pandemic started — not only the pandemic of COVID, but also the pandemic of racial discrimination,” Zhang said.
He said, as an Asian American, he sometimes feels his race is invisible due to the “model minority” stereotype and a lack of representation in government.
He also said he does not buy the claim that this crime was not based on race, given that six of the eight women killed appeared to be of Asian descent.
“Why should I trust what a murderer says, right?” Zhang asked.
Zhang recently participated in a protest at the Georgia Capitol meant to raise awareness about the discrimination and harassment faced by Asian Americans on a regular basis.
He said he himself experienced the prejudice against Asians living in Atlanta first hand when someone abruptly told him to, “Go away.”
Zhang said the words hurt, but what hurt more is that he was standing in a crowded supermarket and no one came to his defense.