The COVID-19 pandemic doesn’t discriminate – people all over our country and world are being hospitalized, losing their jobs and health care, and fearing for the safety of their families. It impacts us all, and doesn’t care what your race, national origin, gender identity, income level, sexual orientation, or age is. Stopping this virus requires following the facts, providing critical resources to those who need them, and showing kindness to one another. We will not stop it by blaming the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community.
The threats to the AAPI community and Asian immigrants are deeply disturbing and very real. A woman riding the subway was verbally attacked; a middle school child was targeted and treated unfairly by his teacher; and a woman walking to the gym was spit on – all for simply being who they are. Sadly, these are just a few examples of reports from across the country of people being harassed, bullied, and physically attacked, resulting in anyone of Asian descent living in fear of what will happen to them. A new website recently launched where victims can report incidents of hate and it saw nearly 700 cases logged in its first week – a figure representing just the tip of the iceberg, since hate crimes are often underreported. This discrimination needs to stop – now. Let’s be clear: elected officials who are fanning the flames of hate with intentional word choice need to stop it. We see what you are doing and division is not the way to lead during this crisis.
It doesn’t help when the president – who is supposed to unite us during trying times – is deliberately striking ‘corona’ in his script and replacing it with ‘Chinese’ in a speech. Calling it the “Chinese Virus” or “Wuhan Virus” isn’t just racist and against expert health officials’ recommendations, but it is factually inaccurate, dangerous, and incites discrimination against Asian Americans and Asian immigrants. Not to mention, this and other similar behavior is beneath the office of a member of Congress, let alone the president of the United States. It is a blatant attempt to deflect accountability from the Trump administration’s failure to prepare for a pandemic that places the safety of AAPI communities at risk.
The president recently tried to backtrack and condemn the bigotry that the AAPI community is experiencing right now, but that’s not going to cut it. You can’t claim to denounce hatred and bigotry when you continue to use racist terms that incite aggression toward the AAPI community.
If elected leaders don’t take responsibility for their actions, we will continue to call them out when they use racist terms and bring awareness to the harm they are causing. You should, too.
Both of us will use our positions to not only spread a message of kindness and inclusion, but also advocate for policies that follow the facts and help everyone through this crisis.
In the meantime, if you, a friend, or family member have been on the receiving end of hate, report it to your local authorities and hold people accountable. If you see something, say something.
During times like this, we must recognize that we have so much more in common than what separates us. Although it will be a long road to recovery from this pandemic, we know that together we can achieve anything. But to do that we have to stop hate and focus on how we will combat this virus – not each other.