Over 260 Civil Rights Groups Demand Congress Fight Coronavirus Racism

coronavirus racism

More than 260 civil rights groups have reportedly come forward to urge the U.S. Congress to tackle the growing racism against Asian Americans amid the COVID-19 outbreak with concrete steps.

Cases of Asians and Asian Americans getting discriminated against, harassed and violated for “having coronavirus” have surged in the last few weeks, one of which involved a man who was doused with water in New York City.

In a letter written by the National Council of Asian Pacific Americans (NCAPA), the groups demanded the House of Representatives and the Senate to come up with “tangible steps to counter the hysteria,” perhaps through a joint resolution.

“While we recognize the growing public health and economic threat the virus poses, our nation must come together during this difficult time. We need leadership grounded in truth and committed to taking on racism and xenophobia directly,” the letter wrote. “We ask that you act swiftly to ensure that violent racism and economic loss, rooted in fear and misinformation is mitigated.”

The groups also acknowledged an earlier letter from the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC), chaired by Rep. Judy Chu, that asked the rest of the Congress to help them “prevent hysteria, ignorant attacks, and racist assaults that have been fueled by misinformation pertaining to the 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19).” That letter also cited the barring of two Hmong men from lodging at Super 8 and Days Inn outlets in Indiana.

“We call on you to do the same,” the groups demanded in their letter. “In the face of this growing threat, the American people need to hear from leaders such as yourselves, that we must face these circumstances together, rather than allow fear and misinformation to divide us.”

 

The letter, which was sent to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, included organizations such as Asian Americans Advancing Justice (AAAJ), Asian Pacific American Chamber of Commerce (APACC), Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF), Asian Pacific American Institute for Congressional Studies (APAICS) and Asian Pacific Partners for Empowerment, Advocacy and Leadership (APPEAL) as signatories.

Interestingly, it came just two days after McCarthy sparked outrage for referring to the novel coronavirus as “Chinese coronavirus,” all while the World Health Organization (WHO) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) discouraged the use of such terms.

“It’s been especially appalling to see this rhetoric coming from President Trump and House Republican leader McCarthy, who should be working to bring our country together during this public health crisis rather than stoking xenophobia and fear,” said Chu, who commended the groups for speaking out, according to NBC News. “If Republicans will not listen to the experts, perhaps they can understand the experiences of those impacted.”

In a separate statement, John C. Yang, president and executive director of AAAJ, called on other allies to help stop the spread of misinformation and racism.

“The discriminatory sentiment and instances of violent attacks aimed at Asian Americans is unacceptable, but unfortunately nothing new,” he said, according to AsAm News. “We encourage allies to take action by reiterating the correct information on the virus, holding bystander intervention trainings, and by reporting hate incidents to StandAgainstHatred.org. Together, we must combat xenophobia.”

Feature Image via Anna Chandy

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