Should We Say 'Asian Lives Matter'? Atlanta Shootings Spark Debate

The shootings in Atlanta, Georgia, in which multiple Asian women were killed, have sparked a debate on social media about whether or not we should use the phrase "Asian Lives Matter", derived from the Black Lives Matter movement.

Eight people were killed in shootings at three massage parlors in the Atlanta area on Tuesday. The Washington Post reported that four Asian women were killed at two massage parlors across the street from one another, while a third shooting killed two more Asian women, a white man, and a white woman.

Though the motive behind the shootings is not yet known, they occurred at businesses where most of the employees are Asian. The past year has also seen an increase in anti-Asian hate crimes worldwide. Police have arrested 21-year-old suspect Robert Aaron Long in connection with the three shootings.

Following reports of the shootings, the phrase "Asian Lives Matter" was being used on social media. Many Twitter users were including the hashtag or phrase in tweets expressing outrage at the shootings or showing sympathy for the victims.

However, some people believe that using "Asian Lives Matter" is co-opting the Black Lives Matter movement, and are urging supporters to use "Stop Asian Hate" instead.

Jina said: "I see 'AsianLivesMatter' trending. Please don't co-opt the #BlackLivesMatter hashtag. Use #StopAsianHate. We must not erase or forget Black oppression in this.

"Things have been terrible for a long time for many. It is not new. We can lift each other up without co-opting."

I see "AsianLivesMatter" trending. Please don't co-opt the #BlackLivesMatter hashtag. Use #StopAsianHate. We must not erase or forget Black oppression in this.

Things have been terrible for a long time for many. It is not new. We can lift each other up without co-opting.

— jina (they/she) 🇰🇷 (@jina) March 17, 2021

Prim said: "hi everyone. speaking on behalf of the asian community, please do not use the #AsianLivesMatter hashtag! it derives its name from the black lives matter movement, another separate movement. here are some alternatives you can use!

"use hashtags such as #PROTECTASIANLIVES, #theycantburnusall, or #StopAsianHate"

use hashtags such as #PROTECTASIANLIVES, #theycantburnusall, or #StopAsianHate

— prim | blm and protect asian lives (@whorefory0han) March 17, 2021

The 'They Can't Burn Us All' movement came about in response to an incident that occurred in Brooklyn, New York, in July 2020, in which an 89-year-old Chinese grandmother was slapped by two men who then set her shirt on fire.

Raina said: "also PLEEEASE don't keep trending asianlivesmatter. that takes away from blacklivesmatter please don't do that. use #StopAsianHate instead"

also PLEEEASE don’t keep trending asianlivesmatter. that takes away from blacklivesmatter please don’t do that. use #StopAsianHate instead

— ʀᴀɪɴᴀ ❕ DONT QRT MY ART (@hyakukisses) March 17, 2021

Duzi said: "pls don't say #asianlivesmatter y'all are literally co-opting blm and it's anti-black"

pls don't say #asianlivesmatter y'all are literally co-opting blm and it's anti-black

— duzi (@duzicat) March 17, 2021

"Stop Asian Hate" has gone viral on Twitter and is currently the second-highest trending topic on the social media platform. The phrase is also being used widely by celebrities and politicians.

Actress Mindy Kaling tweeted: "The targeting of our Asian brothers and sisters is sickening, but not surprising given the normalizing of anti-Asian hate speech in the past year. We have to #StopAsianHate, enough is enough!"

Rep. Ted Lieu of California said: "The former President used racist phrases like Kung Flu that inflamed discrimination against the Asian American community. Officials that continue to use ethnic identifiers in describing the virus are part of the problem. Please instead be a part of the solution. #StopAsianHate."

Atlanta Shooting
Law enforcement personnel are seen outside a massage parlor where a person was shot and killed on March 16, 2021, in Atlanta, Georgia. The shootings sparked a debate about using 'Asian Lives Matter' or 'Stop Asian Hate.' Elijah Nouvelage/AFP/Getty