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Atlanta shootings amplify racial concerns among Asian-American Hoosiers

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — A 21-year-old Georgia man was formally charged Wednesday in the killings of eight people at three Atlanta-area massage parlors, many of them women of Asian descent, authorities said.

For many Asian Americans, the killings further fueled fears about anti-Asian hatred. “It was just really disheartening to see everything that’s happening,” said Hank Nguyen, an Indianapolis resident.

Six of the victims in the Atlanta-area shootings were of Asian descent. Sunny Shuai says she believes cultural stereotypes that cast them as weak or submissive targets played a role in the shooting.

“A lot of people say Asian women tend to be smaller, easy to target and we don’t usually give our voice out,” Shuai said.

“We’re very quiet,” Shuai said. “I think part of it is because of our culture.”

A new report this week by the forum Stop AAPI Hate found about 3,800 anti-Asian racist incidents over the past year across the country.

“I have friends who have been attacked and I have been supporting them,” said Yunyu Xiao, an Indianapolis resident.

Hank Nguyen who moved to the United States at age 17 from Vietnam says he and his wife witnessed firsthand racist attitudes during the coronavirus pandemic. “I’ve seen people on the street and at the supermarket not approaching us, but actively avoiding us because we look Chinese and we’re not Chinese just because of fear of the COVID virus,” Nguyen said.

Sunny Shuai moved to the United States from China 20 years ago. She says she faced discrimination while working in a restaurant before the COVID-19 pandemic.

“There’s one time a lady called after she finished her dinner. She called to the back of the restaurant and she told the owner, she said, ‘Why don’t you guys all go back to China?’” Shuai said.

Overall, some people tell News 8 it’s crucial that people step up and help make a difference. “Support for to ensure the safety in the neighborhoods is definitely need to moving forward,” Xiao said.

“I hope that one day I go out and I do not have to fear for my wife and I and my son’s safety,” Nguyen sid.

James Wimbush, Indiana University vice president for diversity, equity and multicultural affairs, said Wednesday, “As we continue to work towards a more inclusive and equitable environment for us all, it remains vital we listen to the issues and concerns of diverse communities.”