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Published on March 18, 2021 10:45 PM

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White supremacy and hate are haunting Asian Americans
(CNN)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.

Campaigners talk of a perfect storm of prejudice targeting the Asian American and Pacific Islander community that stirred latent hatreds as Covid-19 first arrived in the US, and was exacerbated by Trump's relish in flinging around terms like "China virus."

"There is a lot of fear in the community not just because of the hate crimes of the last year, which are the result of xenophobic messaging around the pandemic by the former President," Georgia state Rep. Bee Nguyen, a Democrat, told CNN's Erin Burnett on Wednesday. "There is a lot of history of Asian American violence in this country -- and many of our parents or grandparents and ancestors experienced that."

Anti-Asian hate crimes are up 150% during the pandemic, according to the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino.