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'You Bum, Why Did You Hit Me?': Asian Woman Fights Back

Violence is forcing a reckoning on years of racism, including in Hollywood
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 18, 2021 9:25 AM CDT

(Newser) – Another attack on an elderly Asian American is making headlines, this one with a different ending. KPIX in San Francisco reports that a 76-year-old woman fought back against her attacker, and he ended up on a stretcher and transported to the hospital. Xiao Zhen Xie tells the station the man punched her while she was waiting at a traffic light to cross the street Wednesday. "She found the stick around the area and fought back," the woman's daughter tells the station. The incident, of course, comes amid the backdrop of the spa shootings in Georgia, in which six Asian women were killed. Coverage:

  • San Fran: Video from the scene in San Francisco shows a man handcuffed to a stretcher. "You bum, why did you hit me?" the woman is quoted as saying in Chinese. A GoFundMe page set up by Xie's family shows her bruised face, after she was treated at a hospital. San Francisco police are investigating, saying only that a 39-year-old man is a suspect in Xie's assault and another on an 83-year-old Asian man earlier that day.

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  • Turning point? Author Cathy Park Hong speaks to the Atlantic, noting that while there has been a spike in attacks of late, such assaults have been happening for a long time. One difference now? "We just haven't really talked about it. And now we're talking about it, and you have to pay attention." She sees this as progress from when she was a youth: "A lot of Asian Americans are more vocal, organized, radicalized, and progressive. And we're not going to go back."
  • Women at risk: A story by Harmeet Kaur at CNN points out that Asian American women are particularly vulnerable. "They're fetishized and hypersexualized," she writes. "They're seen as docile and submissive. On top of that, they're often working in the service sector and are subject to the same racism that affects Asian Americans more broadly."
  • Hollywood: At Variety, Caroline Framke looks at the entertainment industry's long history—and one that endures today—of "reducing Asians to flat, heavily accented caricatures." She ticks off example after example, from Full Metal Jacket to Family Guy. Asian men are portrayed as weak and effeminate, while Asian women "have long been reduced to dehumanizing stereotypes, whether meek and speechless or aggressively sexual robots whose only purpose seems to be servicing white American men." Those making the jokes "are helping to dehumanize an entire population for no reason other than their own instant gratification."
  • Tina Fey: Newsweek reports that Tina Fey is taking flak from the Asian American community for using these stereotypes for years in her work, from Mean Girls and 30 Rock to the Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.
  • Not so simple: The suspect in the Georgia shootings says that racism wasn't a factor and blamed sex addiction instead. But "the idea that this reported confession means the crime can be entirely disconnected from race is a false one," writes Hayes Brown at MSNBC. It's impossible to ignore the racial context at play, he writes, and late-night hosts agree.
  • Culmination: The Washington Post interviews Asian Americans who see the spa shootings as the culmination of a violent year against them. "We're not really Americans, we're perpetually foreigners, and that idea plays out with women as being oversexualized," says Helen Kim Ho of the group Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Atlanta. "All of that had to have played out in this man's own mind. In addition to the unspoken notion that Asian people are easy targets."
(Read more Asian-Americans stories.)

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