As we grapple with the tragedy of 10 killed in a mass shooting during Lunar New Year celebrations in Monterey Park, California, I encourage the public to see horrific events like these through a different lens.
Whether this is deemed a hate crime or not, there are families grieving on what is supposed to be a day symbolizing a new, prosperous beginning. No matter who the shooter was, families who started the night celebrating a major Asian holiday are now shattered with trauma and grief.
This attack is not helping the Asian American community already on edge from hate violence that started during the COVID-19 pandemic and is still continuing. The best we can do is to continue the momentum of sharing these stories and continuing the oftentimes painful discussions so that not just our community, but also those who do not look like us, understand that the virus of hate is still alive in America today.
Lunar New Year celebration brought thousands to Monterey Park
Monterey Park, a city of 60,000 east of Los Angeles, is 65% Asian American, 27% Latino and 6% white, according to census data.
Authorities on Sunday released photos of the male Asian suspect who hit the Star Ballroom Dance Studio on Saturday night, killing five men and five women. Ten survivors were rushed to the hospital, some in critical condition. The shooting took place shortly after a Lunar New Year celebration brought thousands of people to the city, where many shops feature signs in English and Chinese.
About 20 minutes after the shooting, L.A. County Sheriff Robert Luna said, a male Asian suspect with a firearm walked into another dance hall in the neighboring suburb of Alhambra. Patrons wrestled a gun from a suspect who fled in a van.
This weekend had marked the first time Monterey Park had held its Lunar New Year celebration since before the pandemic. While the shooting took place away from the city-sponsored event, officials canceled the two-week festival’s second-day events as a precaution.
‘The nail that sticks out gets hammered down’
Reflecting back on the past several years, being on the forefront reporting on the attacks on Asian Americans and the #stopaapihate movement, I know we have come a long way in raising awareness. But there is an astronomically long way still to go.
In the Asian culture, it’s commonplace for many, especially those from an older generation, to adhere to the adage of “the nail that sticks out gets hammered down.” Meaning, speaking or acting out of turn, such as when tragedy or trauma strikes, is dishonorable and looked down upon.
However, I am encouraged by the number of youth who buck tradition and understand the importance of sharing their stories, no matter how painful. They’ve seen how a simple interview can make a major impact.
Just a couple weeks ago, a Chinese woman shared with me a surveillance video of her 78-year-old father being senselessly assaulted and knocked to the ground while walking down the street in broad daylight. While I was relieved and grateful to be trusted with her story, I couldn’t help but feel anxious at the same time.
Would the public continue to care? Could I get this story approved to bring it to a widespread audience?
Not to mention that comments from the public such as “it seems like it’s getting better” were becoming more frequent. I’m afraid of frequency fatigue, and that this woman’s father could become “just another victim.”
Dion Lim is an anchor/reporter for ABC7/KGO-TV in San Francisco and the author of the upcoming book “Not Your Model Minority” (Third State Books). Follow her on Twitter: @DionLimTV