The term was theorized in 1989 by Kimberlé Crenshaw, an African-American law professor, to emphasize that discrimination can overlap. The concept gradually left university circles and, in the activist space, refers to what some call “the convergence of struggles”.
Since Tuesday, it has been brought back to the fore. “The murderous attack in Atlanta brings back a terrible truth: women are too often victims of the rage of men,” tweeted the anti-racism association ADL, referring to an article entitled: “When women are the enemy: at the intersection of misogyny and white supremacy “.
Object of fantasies
Without necessarily brandishing this word, which may seem obscure, many commentators have declined the concept. The shooter “could have attacked strip clubs, porn video shops or sex shops,” said Washington Post columnist Monica Hesse. “But he did not do it.” Instead, she noted, “he chose businesses whose employees are women, but not only: they are also of Asian origin, poorly paid and in a profession subject to fantasies.”
“Given the sexual stereotypes associated with Asian women in this country (…) it is very difficult to dismiss the racial question,” added Kimmy Yam, a reporter for NBC News.
“The Atlanta murders are a heartbreaking reminder that racist and misogynistic hatred has consequences,” Nicole Austin-Hillery, executive director of the US program at Human Rights Watch, said in a statement . “If the last year has taught us anything, it’s that racial discrimination remains one of the biggest unresolved issues in the United States.”
The police have not, for the time being, excluded any motive. “Everything is on the table”, according to one of his spokespersons. But, for now, Robert Aaron Long, who has been charged with murder and assault, is not being prosecuted for “hate crime”.
This charge covers in the United States the motives linked to the origin, ethnicity, sex, sexual orientation, or religion of the victim and makes it possible to pronounce heavier sentences. The State of Georgia has just included it in its penal arsenal.
But proving that the perpetrator of a crime was motivated by “hatred”, whether racist, misogynist, homophobic or anti-Semitic, is not easy and convictions for “hate crimes” are not very frequent.
Bella Wang, an Asian American photographer, doesn’t want to prejudge the reasons behind the Atlanta drama, but is disturbed by the weight given to Robert Aaron Long’s arguments. She feels that her community, which denounces a rise in hostility against her since the start of the pandemic, is not taken seriously. It is “as if the sense of danger we feel is not valid,” she says.
However, she is comforted by the strong reactions of other members of this minority, whether in Congress, in the street or on social networks. “Until then, we kept everything to ourselves,” she says. “We have always been told not to wave, not to attract attention. So it’s interesting” to witness this liberation of speech.