Yesterday, Jeannie She, a gun violence survivor and member of the Students Demand Action National Advisory Board in Bethesda, Maryland, penned an op-ed in SheKnows detailing her experience as a gun violence survivor, a young Asian American activist and the work that must be done to prevent gun violence, racism and misogyny towards the AAPI community.
The piece comes shortly after a mass shooting in Boulder where ten people were shot and killed, including one police officer, at a grocery store and a series of shootings in massage parlors around metro Atlanta, in which nine people were shot, eight fatally — six of whom were Asian women.
“When we heard news of the mass shooting in Boulder, my friends and I were still processing the mass shooting in the Atlanta area just six days earlier. As an East Asian woman, it was particularly personal. Not only did I see myself in the six Asian women who were shot and killed; I also knew what it felt like to be stricken by a mass shooting.
I remember clearly how May 31, 2019, unfolded. My mom and I rushed to pick up my dad when he called about an active shooter in his office. Twelve people, shot and killed at the Virginia Beach Municipal Center, and more shot and wounded. These victims were my dad’s coworkers; some met with my dad earlier that afternoon. I hugged my dad close that night. He survived with no physical scars, but the psychological ones remain for us all.
Being a high school student and a trauma survivor is a unique job in itself. I was working on an essay when I saw the notification on my phone: another mass shooting in Boulder. All those psychological scars, already raw from the previous week’s news of the mass shooting in Atlanta, were ripped open again.
So while I was shocked as I learned of the mass shooting in Atlanta, I also wasn’t. The mass shooting in Atlanta followed all-too-familiar patterns. Many mass shootings are rooted in hatred towards women. Women in our country are 21 times more likely to die by gun homicide than women in other high-income countries, according to research by Everytown.org. And Asian women like myself have been targets of racism, xenophobia, and misogyny for generations. As the National Network to End Domestic Violence put it, our bodies have been hypersexualized and exoticized, and our perceived submissiveness has been glamorized and eroticized. My friend told me how boys in her class had made a bet — who could date all six of the “exotic girls” the fastest.
Hate is most dangerous when it’s armed, but we can do something about that. We can strengthen background checks, disarm domestic abusers, and keep guns out of the hands of people who shouldn’t have them. Like my friend and fellow Students Demand Action volunteer Yoonie Yang told the Associated Press, good legislation is practical and efficient, and if our lawmakers move with urgency, it can be quick.”
Read the full piece here. To learn more about the work of Students Demand Action volunteers, please don’t hesitate to reach out.