6 Women Golfers Speak Out About Anti-Asian Hate

The alarming rise of anti-Asian hate crimes aimed at people of Asian and Pacific Islander descent has several prominent members of the Women’s PGA tour speaking out about the sometimes deadly trend, as so many people in communities across this country are simultaneously frightened, angered, exasperated and wondering if the nightmare will ever end.

Targeting and attacking,  unsuspecting, innocent people — particularly elderly men and women, who are out participating in their normal daily activities — simply because of their appearance or their suspected heritage — is reprehensible.

Such cowardly attacks should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. 

The message that our government, our law enforcement agencies — and any citizens with the least bit of decency — should broadcast loudly is: No, No, No — Not Here!

Congress and many police departments across the nation have taken some necessary steps to combat this wave of inexcusable crimes. But, we are not where we should be on this matter, yet.

That is why I was encouraged when I saw a nearly full-page package in my local newspaper, highlighting the comments of several prominent, female golfers of Asian descent, who were in Atlanta this week for a Women’s PGA Championship event.

The article was reported and written by Karen Crouse for the New York Times, and picked up by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

An extremely interesting coincidence jumped out at me right away: The golf course where the tour event is being played is only about 15 minutes by car from one of the  three spa businesses where six women of Asian descent were among eight victims fatally shot during a killing spree in  metro Atlanta in march of this year.

The horrific murders of those innocent people horrified the nation. But, unfortunately, they were soon followed by other cowardly, unjustified attacks in California, New York and other cities. And the list of such reprehensible crimes grows longer seemingly by the week.

The New York Times article cites a national report released by Stop AAPI Hate that says “6,603 incidents of anti-Asian violence, harassment and discrimination were reported to the organization in the previous 12 months” that ended March 31.

As has been reported several times before, so many of these attacks have been spurred by antagonism against people in this country, who appear to be of Asian or Pacific-Islander  descent. The flame of that antagonism has been fanned by many politicians, social media “bullies” and others, who refer to the Coronovirus — which has killed more than 600,000 people in this country — as “the China Virus,” or the “Kung Flu.”

What bugs the hell out of me is that even if there were irrefutable proof that the COVID-19 virus started in China because of some mistake in a lab in Wuhan, it would still make no sense to hold ordinary people (even from China), who have lived in this country for years, and others whose families originated in other Asian  nations and territories,  responsible for the outbreak.

They are just as much victims and captives of this pandemic as the rest of us are. Besides, many of them were not born there; many have lived here since birth. It would be better to do everything, we as citizens can do, such as wear masks, wash our hands frequently, get vaccinated and follow the  U.S. Centers For Disease Control and Prevention’s guidelines, to make sure we stay safe — and help others stay safe, too.

Anything short of those sensible steps (that have been proven by this nation’s experience with the virus)  makes you a part of the problem, rather than a part of the solution.

But back to the female golfers featured in The Times piece. And they are heavyweights of the their sport:

—  Yani Tseng, “a two-time Women’s PGA champion and the first golfer from Taiwan to become the world No. 1 player. According to the newspaper article, “she was one of Time’s 100 most influential people in the world in 2012.”

But now, the article says, “she feels helpless” (because of the hatred and violence against people of Asian and Pacific Islander descent.) “I’m scared every time I hear the news … that it could happen to me.”

She said she fell in love with America during her first visit in 2007, because everyone “was so nice.”

She added that, recently, however, a friend of hers, who lives in California, had a terrifying experience while seated in her car in a grocery store parking lot. A group of strangers approached her car and attempted to open its locked doors. The strangers pounded on the car with so much force, “the vehicle oscillated.”

After hearing that, Teng said she was so afraid, “I was worried about myself.” She has a house in San Diego, about 90 minutes from where her friend was menaced.

According to the article, Teng’s family members at home in Taiwan constantly worry about her being here. “Every time they see the news, they say, ‘Are you OK there?'” she said.

— Nine time LPGA tour winner, Na Yeon Choi, from South Korea, often travels with her mother, while here on tour. But, this time, she said she advised her mother “not to bother” coming to the United States for her tournaments.

“I was thinking it’s not safe for her to be alone when I’m focusing on practice,” Choi said. “She can’t speak English, so she’d be stuck in the hotel, because I wouldn’t want her going out.” 

— Four-time California Women’s Amateur champion, Mina Harigae, whose parents are from Japan, put it this way: “I’ll be honest,” she said. “I got so scared, I went online and bought a self-defense stick.”

— Michelle Wie West, who participated in the first major women’s tour event of the year, held outside Palm Springs California, said she “ran an errand at a strip mall near the course, one of thousands of such pit stops she has made for one forgotten item or another during her nearly two decades of competing in LPGA events.

This time, though, was different. “It was the first time, I was truly afraid. We’re targets now, unfortunately.”

— For Inbee Park, of South Korea, the rise in Anti-Asian violence has hit even closer to home. The shootings at three spas in metro Atlanta in March occurred close to where her aunt operates a dry-cleaning business.  “I called her straight away to make sure she was OK,” Inbee said. “It’s really unfortunate what’s happening.”

Park is a three-time Women’s PGA champion and former world No. 1, but wonders why broadcasters, for instance, are showing Asian athletes so little respect, mispronouncing their names during broadcasts, “even after she had corrected them on social media.”

It appears that the amount of disrespect directed toward these athletes, even by broadcasters and others in the media, seems to be increasing with the rise in anti-Asian violence and threats.

— According to the article, Christina Kim, a Californian of Korean descent, is weary of hearing that Asians “talk funny, and really tired of the added pressure that Asian-born players on the tour feel to speak the Queen’s English to avoid being mocked or criticized.”

She is also tired of people on social media ” directing comments to her about the “Kung flu.”

I, for one, am heartened and happy to see these accomplished athletes bravely speak out about this deplorable situation, when so many others are often afraid to stand out.

The U.S. Congress has passed legislation aimed at eliminating this vicious malady. So much of what legislators have mandated local law enforcement agencies to do focuses on finding effective ways to get more victims and witnesses to speak up, to report attacks, to encourage victims not to be afraid to report what happened to them, and for witnesses to report what they saw and heard.

I realize that many in that targeted community are reluctant to raise their hands, fearing that calling attention to themselves might bring them further harm. But police departments need that valuable information to catch those who perpetrate these crimes, along with their helpers and enablers. That is the only way it can be stopped. So, again, I applaud these brave women athletes.

I also wish that more athletes, other golfers — men and women —               baseball players, basketball players, football players, hockey players — especially stars in these sports, would rise up and add their voices to a growing, righteous chorus of influential Americans. 

We have seen, recently, changes brought about by thoughtful and determined professional football and basketball players, who have raised their voices against unjust treatment of black people in this society; against the alarming number of black men and women brutalized and/or killed by overzealous — and often bigoted — police officers .

There have already been criminal convictions against some of these bad actors and successful lawsuits against their employers.

The NBA and NFL have made changes that encourage greater respect and better treatment for those groups of citizens, who were routinely targeted and treated unfairly in the past . The WNBA has allowed — even supported — its athletes in their protests against injustice.

Racial, ethnic, place-of-origin, and gender discrimination should be a concern for every one of us in this country. And we need to do more than just talk a good game. 

We need to stand up and SHOW OUT in the name of equality. And justice for all.

The game clock is already ticking.