A 20-foot, red banner with the words “Fight the Virus, NOT the People” will be donated to the Smithsonian National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C., in honor of San Francisco’s Chinese community.
The banner was used by the San Francisco Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association (CCBA) during a march in the city’s Chinatown on Feb. 29, 2020, board member Ding Bong Lee said.
The banner will be the largest artifact added to the nation’s collections related to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
A digital image by photographer Lucy Xie capturing community leaders carrying the banner at the front of a 1,000-person procession as they march against racism was also donated to the museum.
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“The banner will educate our next generation (about) the virus and the hate crimes” against Chinese and Asian American communities that increased during the onset of the pandemic, Bong Lee said. “We have to pay attention to fight back.”
In Cantonese, the banner translates to: “Together we support the businesses, [we are] against discrimination,” and “[We] support fighting the global pandemic, with courage and determination.”
“This one artifact shows how members of the oldest Chinatown in North America challenged scapegoating during a public health crisis, a story that traces the ongoing discrimination and violence faced by people of Asian American descent and illuminates their resiliency,” Anthea M. Hartig, the museum’s Elizabeth MacMillan Director, said in a statement on Monday.
It also pushed for support of Chinatown’s small businesses, which continue to suffer the effects of the pandemic.
“Through this banner, we hope our community’s struggle for justice and freedom from racism and discrimination will be made known to Americans and museum visitors,” Walter Wong, president of the CCBA, said. “We hope this is just the beginning of our community’s continuing relationship with the Smithsonian.”