Mar 16, 2022 - Podcasts

One year after the Atlanta spa shootings

Today marks one year since six Asian women were shot to death in Atlanta-area spas. Those murders intensified the spotlight on Asian American hate, which was on the rise since the start of the pandemic. But this uptick has also led to increased visibility for Asian Americans and community activism over the past year.

  • Plus, Ukraine’s president Zelensky is set to address the U.S. Congress.
  • And, daylight saving time could become permanent.

Guests: Axios' Shawna Chen, Hope King and Sophia Cai.

Credits: Axios Today is produced in partnership with Pushkin Industries. The team includes Niala Boodhoo, Sara Kehaulani Goo, Julia Redpath, Alexandra Botti, Nuria Marquez Martinez, Sabeena Singhani, Lydia McMullen-Laird, and Alex Sugiura. Music is composed by Evan Viola. You can reach us at [email protected]. You can text questions, comments and story ideas to Niala as a text or voice memo to 202-918-4893.

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NIALA BOODHOO: Good morning! Welcome to Axios Today!

It’s Wednesday, March 16th. I’m Niala Boodhoo.

Here’s the latest today: Ukraine’s president Zelensky is set to address the US Congress.

Then: a surprise from the US Senate: daylight saving time could become permanent.

But first, our One Big Thing: how the Atlanta spa shootings changed the Asian-American conversation.

Today marks one year since 6 Asian women were shot to death in Atlanta-area spas. Those murders intensified the spotlight on Asian American hate, which was on the rise since the start of the pandemic.

In the last year, Anti-Asian hate crimes went up 339 percent across the country, according to the Center for the Study of Hate and extremism.

But this uptick has also led to increased visibility for Asian Americans, community activism and more over the past year - Axios’ Hope King and Shawna Chen have been reporting on this – thanks to you both for being here.

HOPE KING: Thanks for having us.

SHAWNA CHEN: Thanks for having us.

NIALA: Shawna, so we can't talk about this past year without acknowledging that duality that I just described there.

SHAWNA: Yeah. I mean, these last two years really, we've seen a big jump in anti-Asian hate crimes. Anti-Asian violence in general. With it has come, an amplification of calls for, for racial justice, um, for visibility, for Asian-Americans in media and in politics. But the two, you know, they kind of go hand in hand. And even with visibility, you know, that can actually sometimes amplify perhaps the violence.

HOPE: Yeah, I would just add also, there were so many notable firsts. I mean, we had the first vice president, uh, who is Black and who is Indian-American. And we had the first big blockbuster for Marvel, right, Shang-Chi. Which was an Asian led cast and film that rose to one of the top 10 highest grossing films. But at the same time you had folks who every day who I, you know, in New York City, look over my shoulder and think about whether or not I should stand a little bit further away from the subway platforms or if I should run faster into my home. I mean, that's the reality that Asian Americans are living in in 2022. And so this stark contrast between the visibility that Asian-Americans achieved and the vulnerability that Asian-Americans faced every day was so striking to us.

NIALA: Whether we're talking about within communities or in terms of actual new laws, what actions have we seen as a result of this movement?

HOPE: I think importantly, you know, you've seen Congress pass a lot of legislation to identify these crimes as ones being related to the COVID-19 discrimination that started when the former president started talking about COVID-19 as the China virus. You've also seen much more focus on states getting involved in renewing education platforms and school systems to incorporate Asian American history.

SHAWNA: Yeah, I think one of the big things that's happened actually as a result of the surge in violence is a real solidarity among different groups of Asian-Americans. You know, we're an incredibly diverse group, but we've seen a large outpouring of support, for combating this kind of Asian, Anti-Asian hate on the grassroots level and in boosting protections. Tons of patrol groups that have come out of, um, this past year are really like working with elders to try and make sure they get home safe or children. Or making sure that they're able to help de-escalate situations in Chinatown or otherwise.

The federal COVID Hate Crimes Act, that was pushed for by AAPI lawmakers, that also did cause division among AAPI advocacy groups, some of whom felt that that reinforced policing and didn't actually help the cause in the long term. So I think it's really brought this community into the forefront of this new kind of movement where we're thinking actively about what it means to be united and putting on a front together to kind of achieve shared goals.

NIALA: Visibility fades. What are activists telling you about this coming year when maybe these conversations are not as front and center as they have been over the past 12 months?

SHAWNA: Yeah, I think a lot of advocacy groups feel that the community based organizations are really the ones best situated to address situations on the ground. And I think people want to see more solidarity too, across color lines, coalition building with Black, Latino folks, um, Native Americans to really build up, power, political power as a group. And advocates especially are putting their kind of, a lot of their energy every day into these issues that directly affect them. For, for a lot of them, they do see the big picture, the long-term vision, you know, they've seen change even just the last year, the last decade, even if it's slow and even if visibility fades, for them, that's the ultimate kind of purpose. Because at the end of the day, no matter how far we actually drive that, how far like that, goal post moves, it is still changed that they believe in.

HOPE: At the end of the day, if you have everyone who feels more in power to maybe protect themselves, or to tell their stories, then, then you have a groundswell of change. And we're seeing more as human beings, as, as people who are part of this country, part of the fabric of this nation.

NIALA: Axios business reporter Hope King and breaking news reporter Shawna Chen. Hope, Shawna, thank you for being with me.

SHAWNA: Thank you. Really appreciate your time.

HOPE: Thank you.

NIALA: We’ll be back in 15 seconds with what you need to know today about the war on Ukraine.

[ad break]

NIALA: Welcome back to Axios Today! I’m Niala Boodhoo.

To catch you up quick, here’s some of the latest on Russia’s war on Ukraine as it enters day 21:

This morning Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky is scheduled to address the U-S Congress in a virtual meeting. He’s expected to renew his pleas for a No Fly Zone and increased military aid, a week after US lawmakers approved a $13.6 billion humanitarian and security aid package for his country.

Russia has taken more territory in southern Ukraine, and its assault on the capital city Kiyv continues to intensify… leading to a more dire humanitarian crisis for residents there. The city’s mayor ordered a curfew through Thursday. The UN says almost 700 civilians have been killed since the invasion began – including at least three journalists – but that the actual number of civilian fatalities is almost certainly much higher.

And: a NATO summit has been set for next week to discuss the way forward. President Biden is expected to travel to Brussels to meet with NATO leaders as well European Union members.

For updates on the War in Ukraine and explainers that will help you understand everything that’s going, head to

Okay, so we have made it to Wednesday of the week our clocks change which means lots of cranky mornings for many of us, especially those of you with children in your life. But yesterday, the Senate passed a measure that would do away with the twice yearly time change entirely. Axios congressional reporters Sophia Cai followed the debate in the Senate yesterday. Good morning Sophia.

SOPHIA CAI: Good morning.

NIALA: Sophia, we found one issue, apparently that was very easy to get bipartisan support. This passed unanimously. What's the motivation here?

SOPHIA: Well, look, there have been some studies that have shown that due to the one-hour clock shift, there has been a slight uptick in heart problems and also car accidents that day. And so there was a bipartisan group of senators that got together that said, “Hey, look, let's not do that anymore. Let's stay on daylight savings time.”

NIALA: But Sophia and this is a big but - we have been here already. We did away with daylight saving time in the 1970s.

SOPHIA: Yeah, that's correct. The last time Congress tried to do this, it seemed like a good decision. But after it was passed, people started having problems because students were going to school in the dark in the mornings and there were a few deaths as a result. And so public sentiment shifted and they ended up repealing this and going back to the two clock changes a year, less than a year later.

NIALA: And what happens next?

SOPHIA: So, this is not a law yet. It still has to pass the House and get signed into law by the president. Over in the House, we have a Republican member of Congress from Florida, Vern Buchanan, who says he'll be writing a letter to Speaker Pelosi asking her to pass the bill in the House.

NIALA: Axios’ Sophia Cai. Thanks, Sophia.

SOPHIA: Thanks.

NIALA: That’s all we’ve got for you today! Text me your feedback and story ideas: I’m at (202) 918-4893.

I’m Niala Boodhoo - thanks for listening - stay safe and we’ll see you back here tomorrow morning.

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