If you're asking if it was "racially motivated," you may be asking the wrong question.

The horrific Atlanta shootings last week which targeted three Asian massage parlors and killed 8 people (7 of which were women and 6 of which were Asian), has sparked the public awareness of Asian hate crimes with the latest movement #StopAsianHate. Most recently in NYC, a 65-year old Filipina American woman was brutally assaulted on the sidewalk in broad daylight while two doormen look on and close the building doors. 

I get it. I am totally aware of and feel the profound pain of being Asian and having an Asian family (especially a son) as it pertains to the prejudice, mistreatment, and racism that this drums up. Believe me, Asian Americans have a lot of dirty laundry (just to name a few) to air with America:

Yes, STOP ASIAN HATE! 

But in this case, if you're only asking if it was "racially motivated," I think you may be asking the wrong question. During a news conference, Cherokee County Sherrif's Office Captain, Jay Baker, said: "He [Long] apparently had an issue, what he considers a sex addiction, and sees these locations as ... a temptation for him that he wanted to eliminate."

(Side note: It didn’t help when Baker made the asinine statement regarding the shootings that Long had a “really bad day.”) But don't let that derail us.

I’m not presuming that Long was prejudiced against Asians or wasn't; what I heard was he had a sex addiction that led him to those massage parlors. If we are only seeing red over racism being in question (which we know totally exists), then we are most likely missing the real cancer and not asking the right questions:

Why were mainly Asian women working in these spa parlors (and not just in Atlanta, but nationwide)? Are they working at places like these of their own free will? Are they even in the United States by their choice? Are they sex trafficked to the U.S. and pimped out as slaves to these establishments? 

Sex trafficking in the United States and worldwide is nothing new and the billion-dollar industry of pornography isn’t either. In just the last year from 2018-2019, there was a 20% increase in victims and survivors who reported directly to the Trafficking Hotline in the U.S. 

Pornography and sex trafficking are at the core of the cancer of humanity which is fueled by power and money (which doesn’t discriminate on color), and indiscriminately victimizes any age, color, or gender. It’s not based solely on race, it’s about victimizing the marginalized, which in any race or ethnic group are the poor.

But movements are tricky things because they can become their own self-serving agenda and political propaganda. In many ways, it’s an easy way to fane solidarity by simply hiding behind a hashtag or a Facebook profile banner without having to do any of the hard and sustained work required to make real change. And change requires the whole of humanity; compassionate, intelligent, action-oriented people taking turns asking the hard (sometimes unpopular) questions, digging deeper into uncomfortable places (like our own prejudices and addictions), and seeking out uncommon relationships and conversations.

And so, may we be brave enough to call out all of the isms: racism, sexism, narcissism, despotism, materialism, totalitarianism … no matter what color we are. Let's not get behind movements, but instead, get behind people:

Soon Chung Park, Hyun Jung Grant, Suncha Kim, Yong Ae Yue, Delaina Ashley Yaun, Paul Andre Michels, Xiaojie Tan, Daoyou Feng.

If you need help or know of someone who does, please contact the U.S. National Human Trafficking Hotline at 888-373-7888 or Text “BeFree” 233733.

Let us know in the comments how you're supporting the marginalized in your community.