An Asian media company called 88rising came under fire after posting a yellow square on Instagram in the wake of the mass shooting in Atlanta.
A 21-year-old gunman named Robert Aaron Long, killed eight people, including six Asian women,at three massage parlors in the Atlanta metro area on Tuesday. Long was arrested on Tuesday night and confessed to the killings.
What is the Yellow Square Controversy?
The massacre, which took place amid a surge in violence against Asian-Americans, spurred support for members of the Asian community. American mass media and talent management company, 88rising, also added its voice to the mix with a controversial post on their Instagram depicting a single neon-yellow square.
"Enough is enough. Heartbroken with the disgusting and senseless violence in Georgia tonight," the caption of the now-deleted post read. "Violence against the Asian community has to stop. Let's protect each other and stand against hate."
The post backfired, with some comparing it to "Blackout Tuesday" – black squares posted by Instagram users as a show of support amid nationwide Black Lives Matter protests in June 2020.
Many were quick to point out the inherent racism in associating Asian Americans with the color yellow. "Posting a yellow square to show your 'support for asians' is both performative and offensive so please don't do that?" one user urged.
Besides the performative activism, isn't using a yellow square racist? Like Asian people aren't "yellow," commented another.
Attributing the color yellow to Asian Americans has a lot of racist undertones. In earlier times, some of the Western world referred to Asian Americans as "yellow peril," deeming them "unclean and unfit" for U.S. citizenship. In current times, there has been backlash against casual racism wherein the term "yellow" is used to refer to Asians.
88rising Issues Apology
In the wake of the backlash, 88rising issued an apology on its social media accounts.
"Thank you to our community for sharing your comments and critiques with us," the music label wrote in the post. "It was never our intention to cause harm, but we recognize the effects of our actions and apologize."
"We are not trying to start a yellow square movement, though we understand how it was misinterpreted," the company continued. "We are heartbroken and wanted to share our thoughts on the horrific violence in Georgia and to decry the racism against the Asian community."