This week, eight people were murdered in an Atlanta-area shooting spree that seemed to have targeted Asian women. Amid all the horrific headlines about this attack, we can’t forget that those were not just faceless employees of massage spas. These were real women, some of them mothers who supported their families the best way they could.
Randy Park, the 23-year-old son of one of the victims, Hyun Jung Grant, has shared her story, so we can all remember the mom who dedicated her life to taking care of him and his little brother.
“I could tell her anything,” Park said an interview with the Daily Beast. “If I had girl problems or whatever. She wasn’t just my mother. She was my friend.”
Grant had been an elementary school teacher in Korea before emigrating to the U.S. for what he called “normal immigrant reasons.”
After moving to the States, she “worked her ass off” to take care of her children, her son recalled. “And here in America, she did what she had to do,” he said. “She was a single mother of two kids who dedicated her whole life to raising them.”
After the shootings, rumors began circulating that the spas Robert Long targeted offered sexual services to their clients, but Park says he was shielded from that side of his mother’s work.
“She would always tell me, if anyone asks, that she works at a makeup parlor,” Park explained. “So that’s what I fronted to everybody. The truth was she worked at a massage parlor, and I knew that for a fact because she admitted it to me after I looked it up online. I confronted her about it, because I was worried for her. It’s kind of shady. When I went there and saw it — I don’t want to say it was a bad looking place, but it matched the image in my head that I was worried about.”
The shooting has brought the safety, not only of Asians living in America but also of sex workers to the forefront of the political conversation. Advocates claim that sex workers don’t receive the same protection under the law as other workers.
Park established a GoFundMe to help support his brother in the wake of their mother’s death.
“It is only my brother and I in the United States,” Park wrote on the site. “The rest of my family is in South Korea and are unable to come. She was one of my best friends and the strongest influence on who we are today. Losing her has put a new lens on my eyes on the amount of hate that exists in our world. As much as I want to grieve and process the reality that she is gone, I have a younger brother to take care of and matters to resolve as a result of this tragedy.”
At present, the campaign has raised over $900,000. We’re keeping Park and all the other family members of the Atlanta victims in our hearts at this terrible time.