CHICAGO – That was a year ago on Wednesday eight people, including six Asian Americans, were killed at three spas in the Atlanta area.

The deadly shootings drew attention to a surge in hate crimes targeting Asian Americans, especially women.

A year later, many Asian Americans still say they still don’t feel safe.

Anti-Asian violence has been widely reported since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, but some Asian Americans from the Chicago area say crime against their people is not new.

“I know it’s easy to mix it up with everything else that happens to COVID and COVID hate crimes, but this incident could have happened outside of the pandemic,” said Sung Yong Choimorrow, executive director of the National Asia Pacific. American Women’s Forum. .

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Choimorrow said Asian women have been objectified for centuries in this country.

“Many of us, although we have experienced a certain level of racial sexual harassment, no one thought something like this could happen,” she added.

Last weekend, dozens of people gathered at Horner Park in northern Chicago to remember the victims.

Grace Pai is the executive director of Asian Americans in Promoting Justice in Chicago. She said that for many Asian Americans, the tragedy in Atlanta is a call to action. Many began to share their stories and lobby their elected officials to take action.

“In the Asian community and in the immigrant community, there’s a lot of fear of not talking about what you’ve been through,” Pai said. “So now we’re starting to see more public accounts, and more and more people are speaking out.”

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A survey of more than 2,400 AAPI women across the country found that 74% said they had experienced racism and / or discrimination in the past 12 months, 38% said they had been sexually harassed, and 12% said they had been sexually abused. and / or race.

Choimorau said the police were not the answer.

“To make Asian-American women feel safe again, we need to make sure that the people who look at me and walk down the street see me as a human being, not someone they can objectify.” – Choymore said.

Last spring, Governor J. B. Pritzker signed the bill Illinois is the first state to require the teaching of Asian American history in public schools.

“So this is what we hope will have a really broad impact, right and making sure that students of all ages, whether they identify themselves as Asian Americans, learn about the history of Asian Americans, learn that Asian Americans are not from “The‘ other things ’are that we are not eternal foreigners, that we are Americans, that we are a huge part of American history,” Pai said.

Activists also sought to create the first-ever Asian branch with a majority population that would include Chinatown and Bridgeport in Chicago.

“Just having in office people who have the same life experience who know what it’s like to go home in the dark to an Asian woman to understand the intersection of racism and misogyny – I think you, it’s hard to relate to that if you don’t identify yourself yes, ”Pai said.

Although Chicago has not seen attacks on Asian American women as brutal as those reported in New York City or the Gulf region, Choymour said the security concerns of Asian American women in the city should be taken seriously.

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