It’s a strange thing to mourn strangers — six women I’ve never met and will never meet. For hours after I first read news of the shooting in Atlanta where a white man killed eight people, six of whom were Asian American women, my throat stiffened with a sadness I couldn’t swallow. I didn’t understand the very real grief I felt when I read their names: Soon Chung Park, Suncha Kim, Yong Ae Yue, Hyun Jung Grant, Xiaojie Tan, Delaina Yaun, Daoyou Feng and Paul Andre Michels.
I kept thinking their names were just another headline in a year long newspaper reel of attacks against Asian American elders and women. I told myself that it was a privilege to read of their deaths from a distance understanding that, as a Cornell student, I enjoy the insular privilege of a family background and an Ivy League education that separates me from older working-class Asian American women. There was a part of me that even felt like I didn’t have the right to mourn them, that it was overdramatic to feel real sadness over their deaths.