The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: A Year Later, Asian Americans Struggle to Find Real Safety


By Phi Nguyen

March 16, 2021 was a typical Tuesday night until my phone started buzzing. Messages from across the country began to flood in about a gunman attacking Asian spas in the Atlanta area. Eight people died that night; six were Asian women massage workers.

As I struggled to process, my boss issued a directive: We need to organize.We work at Georgia’s largest Asian American civil rights organization, Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Atlanta, and I jumped into action. While writing an organizational statement deep into the night, I began to grasp the depths of pain the shootings would wrought on my community. I chose our words with care for the Georgia I love.

A year later, people are asking what has changed. Not nearly enough …

Phi Nguyen

… Creating safety for Asian Americans requires us to identify all forms of racist violence – not just physical assaults, but state-sponsored policies and systems that detain and deport immigrants, criminalize sex workers and incarcerate Black and Brown communities. Creating safety for Asian Americans requires a radical reimagining of safety and belonging; investing into systems that center humanity, dignity and care for all people.

To achieve safety and justice, we need a comprehensive approach that includes individual, community and government action. For example, we can act locally to ensure ethnic studies will be taught in our K-12 classrooms to counter state education bills that try to ban books and accurate, comprehensive discussions of race and racism. In addition, Asian American communities must push for state legislation that gives undocumented immigrants basic rights – such as access to a driver’s license – in places like Georgia, Michigan and Minnesota. And system leaders like Georgia’s university system Board of Regents must accept undocumented students to top-tier public universities and grant in-state tuition to all Georgia residents, regardless of immigration status.

In the months after the shootings, we caught a glimpse of what is possible when we come together and collectively invest in community care. Atlanta’s Asian American community and other community leaders came together to raise money for immediate and longer term basic needs, assisted in relocation for some survivors, and continued to offer in-language mental health support that people actually need. Imagine what can happen if we can change entire systems to do the same.

Phi Nguyen is the executive director of Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Atlanta. She was the litigation director for the same organization when the Atlanta spa shooting occurred on March 16, 2021.

Opinion: A year later, Asian Americans still struggle to find real safety (

AAAJ-Atlanta – #RememberingMarch16 Collective Statement & Toolkit

This March 16 will be the one year anniversary of the murders of eight people, including size Asian women massage workers at spas in our metro Atlanta community. As the organization that led the rapid-response efforts to directly support victims, survivors, and their families, Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Atlanta invites you to join our organization in remembrance.

We invite partner organizations to join us in solidarity on March 12 for a day of remembrance. We kindly ask partner organizations to observe Wednesday, March 16 as a sacred day for quiet reflection.

  1. Sign-on to our collective statement by Wednesday, March 9. The statement will be released on our website on Saturday, March 12 and organizations who have signed on will be listed as co-signers.
  2. Observe, join, or organize solidarity events on March 12, 2021 in your local community. In Atlanta, we are co-hosting a community remembrance event with the Asian American Advocacy Fund alongside our co-sponsors: Raksha, CPACS, Korean American Coalition, and New Georgia Project. Please share our solidarity day invitations with your networks.
  3. Use this community toolkit to uplift our 5-part art collaboration series dedicated to the one year remembrance.

APANO Responds to Tragedy in Atlanta


APANO unites Asians and Pacific Islanders to build power, develop leaders, and advance equity through organizing, advocacy, community development, and cultural work. We envision a just world where Asians and Pacific Islanders and communities who share our aspirations and struggles have the power, resources, and voice to determine our own futures, and where we work in solidarity to drive political, social, economic, and cultural change. Learn more at

How you can help:
Donate.. All donations will go directly to support the victims and their families and to support crisis intervention across the Asian American community.

Here are more ways to support efforts in Georgia.

Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Atlanta: A Community-Centered Response to Violence Against Asian American Communities

Collective Statement– A Community-Centered Response to Violence Against Asian American Communities in English, Chinese (中文), Korean (한국어), and Vietnamese (Tiếng Việt).



Sign on to our collective community statement to stand in solidarity with us as we develop our community-centered response and denounce the misogyny, white supremacy, and systemic racism that motivate violence against Asian American communities and other communities of color.

A link to the full statement and individual and organizational sign-ons are here.

Donate to the victims of the violent acts and their families here.
All donations will go directly to support the victims and their families.

Share the resources you can offer to the victims and their families, other impacted community members, and community organizations involved in crisis response here.
The resources you might offer can include but are not limited to: mental health services (counseling, healing), other medical services, immigration legal services, interpretation or translation in Asian languages, victim advocacy/case management, assistance with fundraising for victims and their families, childcare, and/or food assistance. Share this link widely so others can add their community offerings as well.

Vote by Mail In-Language Resources – Georgia

The General Election is on November 3! Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Atlanta will continue to provide tools and information regarding Vote By Mail, Voter Registration, and ways to encourage others to vote in Georgia.

The threat of COVID-19 continues to harm community members in Georgia. This unprecedented pandemic has spread through the state rapidly, leaving elections officials to make sweeping changes to the way we vote. Though our elections will continue, a lot is still unclear. One option to vote securely is to vote by mail.

Check out their Vote by Mail In-Language Resources here



Pandemic SNAP (P-SNAP) and Pandemic EBT (P-EBT)

Due to COVID-19, Georgia Division of Family & Children Services has created new programs to help families access food – Pandemic SNAP (P-SNAP) and Pandemic EBT (P-EBT). All SNAP/Food Stamps recipients will automatically receive P-SNAP. P-EBT is available for children receiving free or reduced lunch as of March 2020. If you currently receive SNAP (Food Stamp) benefits, you do not need to apply for P-EBT. CPACS is able to assist with enrollment into SNAP. Call our SNAP hotline at 678-824-6000 for assistance.



COVID-19 Community Resource Guide

We hope you all are staying well and safe during this time. In order to help our community members find and access resources available to them, we have created a Google Document with resources for those in Gwinnett county, although it could help to those residing in the rest of Metro Atlanta. We also have this document translated in different languages!

English: Gwinnett County COVID-19 Community Resource Guide

Korean: 메트로 애틀랜타 한인 지역 코로나19 지역사회자원 가이드

Traditional Chinese: 格溫內特縣COVID-19社區資源指南

Simplified Chinese: 格温内特县COVID-19社区资源指南

Vietnamese: Thông tin Covid-19 cho Quận Gwinnett


Read the rest of their resources here