In one sense, it's immaterial whether the accused killer in the Atlanta spa shootings admits to a racist motivation. Asian Americans, already traumatized by a rising tide of hate, violence and rhetoric, have been living in fear for months.
The murders of eight people, including six Asian women, among them four South Koreans, further disoriented and horrified a community already unfairly stigmatized by racial association during a pandemic that originated in China. And they laid bare for the rest of the country the agony of yet another minority group left to question its place in America, at a time of rising attacks and harassment amid cresting White nationalism and domestic extremism.
Many Asian Americans feel exposed by a torrent of dangerous and racially motivated rhetoric by national figures on a cultural crusade. Most prominently that includes ex-President Donald Trump, who presided over four years of rising racial tensions and often used division as a tool of personal power.