A white man entered an Atlanta, Georgia spa yesterday and opened fire, killing four people and wounding another. He then drove across town and repeated this heinous act at two more locations, killing four more people. Six of the victims were Asian women, four of them of Korean descent.
These shootings came hours after Bandai Namco publicly decried growing anti-Asian racism in the United States. Since then, other figures have come forward to stand alongside Asian-American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities in defiance of the shooter’s vile actions.
“Hate has no home on Xbox,” Phil Spencer, head of Xbox, wrote on Twitter this morning. “Team Xbox is appalled by the violence and racism against Asian communities. For all Asian players and peers, I want you to know that we see you, we hear you, and we will and must do more together to #StopAsianHate.”
“We stand in solidarity with our teams, community and players to #StopAsianHate #StopAAPIHate,” Ubisoft San Francisco added shortly afterward.
“We are troubled by a recent pattern of violence targeting the Asian-American and Pacific Islander communities,” said Sony’s PlayStation account, pledging to donate to Stop AAPI Hate. “It’s time to take action.”
“Bungie stands with our Asian-American and Pacific Islander communities, and we have made a donation to provide support and advocacy to those in need,” Bungie wrote, linking followers to AAPI Women Lead.
“Violence and hatred against Asians has no place in the world,” Bethesda said. “Bethesda rejects racism in all forms and stands in solidarity with our Asian employees and the AAPI community. We will continue efforts within our organisation and communities to help drive change. #StopAsianHate”
Hate has no home on Xbox. Team Xbox is appalled by the violence and racism against Asian communities. For all Asian players and peers, I want you to know that we see you, we hear you, and we will and must do more together to #StopAsianHate.
— Phil Spencer (@XboxP3) March 17, 2021
According to the Centre for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino, anti-Asian hate crimes rose dramatically in 2020, many resulting in serious medical emergencies and even deaths. Many have attributed this growth to the bile spewed by former United States president Donald Trump in the wake of the covid-19 pandemic.
“What Trump did is that he weaponised it in a way,” Karthick Ramakrishnan, founder and director of demographic data and policy research nonprofit AAPI Data, told NBC. “Trump’s rhetoric helps set a certain narrative in place — and presidents have an outsized role in terms of shaping narrative. They don’t call it a bully pulpit for nothing, and especially Trump, the way he frequently used Twitter as well as press conferences and off-the-cuff remarks to campaign rallies to frame the narrative in a particular way, it likely played a role.”
While important to fostering a welcoming space for minorities, the movement for social justice shouldn’t stop with these statements. I’m heartened to see PlayStation and Bungie put their money where their mouths are, but corporate activism (which, let’s be honest, is also another way for these companies to market to consumers) can only go so far. It’s up to each and every one of us, as individuals, to call out bigotry in all its forms and ensure video games can no longer be the breeding ground for hate, like the kind of hatred that resulted in eight deaths yesterday.
I won’t claim to have all the answers. I don’t know exactly where we’re supposed to go from here. But I do know that folks are hurting. In this time of mourning and confusion, maybe try reaching out to someone who has been affected by these events and simply making sure they don’t feel alone. And, if you can, also consider supporting organisations like Stop AAPI Hate and AAPI Women Lead.