The Opportunity for All Coalition – which is working to eliminate discrimination in California state contracts, hiring and college admissions – strongly condemns racist attacks and discrimination against Chinese Americans and Asian Americans. This is the time for unity not division.
We specifically denounce the alarming rise of racism against Chinese Americans and Asian Americans resulting from national leaders and conservative figures using “Chinese virus” to refer to the coronavirus.
National leaders communicating, even implicitly, that those of Chinese or Asian ethnicity are responsible for the coronavirus epidemic are sowing hatred when they should be promoting unified efforts to address this ongoing crisis.
Racist messages by national leaders have consequences. A 16-year-old Asian American boy was physically attacked at a California school because he was accused of having the coronavirus. Two Hmong men in Indiana were denied service at hotels when their ethnicity was mistaken for Chinese and thought to be carrying the coronavirus. A woman in New York wearing a facemask, believed to be Asian, was physically and verbally assaulted in a subway station. Asian Americans are facing discrimination in the workplace as well. Workers in retail, hospitality, and healthcare sectors are hearing about customers and patients requesting to interact with “non-Asian” staff.
We are repeating history and it must stop. In 1982, a 27-year-old named Vincent Chin was bludgeoned with a baseball bat in Detroit by two white autoworkers who mistook Chin for being Japanese and wanting to blame Chin for the success of the Japanese auto industry. Chin died days later.
Racist violence against Chinese Americans and Asian Americans are not just harming individuals but also impacting businesses. Asian American businesses across the country are seeing significant losses in business, as customers fear a mistaken connecting between the virus and businesses owned by Asian Americans.
Public officials such as the members of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, Gov. Gavin Newsom of California, Gov. Steve Sisolak of Nevada and others have rightly condemned this racism against Chinese Americans and Asian Americans. The growing chorus of voices is making an impact. The President has stopped using his racist description for the virus.
Unfortunately, the damage is done, but we need to continue to speak against racism and scapegoating. The coronavirus epidemic is harmful enough by itself and we should be working together as a country and as a global community to solve this terrible crisis.
Eva Paterson and Vincent Pan
Co-Chairs, Opportunity for All Coalition