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Attacks On Asian Women In Atlanta Further Heartbreak, Start Historical Dialogue In Idaho

Lyle Wirtanen

Since the start of the pandemic, attacks on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have been on the rise, and the recent tragic shooting in Atlanta was a tipping point for the heartbreak over these continued attacks.

Dr. Pei-Lin Yu, a professor at Boise State, is frustrated by the lack of humanization of the victims; Delania Ashley Yaun, Andre Michels, Xiaojie Tan, Daoyou Feng, Julie Park, Hyeon Jeong Park and two still not —six of whom were working-class Asian women.

"I want to know more about these women,” she said. “I want to do them some honor, you know, and there's no way to do that."

Dalton Dagondon Tiegs, a local transnational feminist organizer, says this act of terror is part of a bigger problem.

“White supremacist violence that happened in Atlanta was rooted in this stereotype of the fetization of Asian women,” they said.

Tiegs is an immigrant to the U.S. and felt many things in hearing the news.

“A myriad of emotions,” they said, “but also just wanting to be more deeply rooted in community and showing up for them in whatever way I can."

Tiegs’ mom back in the Philippines called them as soon as she heard the news, fearing for their safety.

"She lives right across the world, 7000 miles away in the Philippines," Tiegs said. "And the reaction is to come home. And it is not safe there."

Tiegs says working class AAPI women, particularly those who are undocmented, are at a higher risk of violence — something Tiegs says more policing won't help. They would like to see an easier path to citizenship.

“Asian women are doing a lot of care work or domestic work within this country, and so that subjects them to a lot of sexual violence where they're not protected,” said Teigs.

Idaho has its own Anti-Asian history to wrestle with. Dr. Yu said recent moves by the legislature like axing money from Boise State for its diversity initiatives is limiting dialogue.

“We do have an opportunity to have these conversations,” she said. “Some of it is celebratory."

She expects that many would be amazed at the deep roots Asian-Americans have even just in the city of Boise.

Dr. Yu hopes more Idahoans will start to understand the role Asian-American communities play in making Idaho what it is today.

Follow Gustavo Sagrero on Instagram @gus.chavo

Copyright 2021 Boise State Public Radio

Gustavo Sagrero was a newsroom intern in 2021.

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