Your Leadership in Combating Racism, Xenophobia, and Intolerance Against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs) is Greatly Appreciated
In only his second week in office, President Biden issued a Memorandum condemning and combating racism, xenophobia, and intolerance against AAPIs. With the stroke of a pen President Biden tried to undo the damage Trump has done to AAPIs through his divisive and incendiary language and insistence on calling the COVID-19 pandemic the “China virus.”
It’s well documented that hate crimes against AAPIs have increased substantially during the pandemic and AAPIs are being targeted, harassed and bullied throughout our country. Also, AAPIs have suffered disproportionately as restaurants have been shuttered and AAPI workers have lost their jobs at an alarming rate. AAPI-owned restaurants have had bricks thrown through their windows, and graffiti with racist messages spewed on their walls.
As recently reported by CNN, United Nations experts expressed concern over the “alarming level” of racially motivated incidents against Asian Americans. The UN’s report cited public statements and social media posts that refer to the virus as the “‘Chinese virus,’ ‘Wuhan virus,’ or the ‘Kung Flu,’ including by Trump,” as allegedly being linked to the recent surge in racist attacks.
Unfortunately, the acts of a racist President and xenophobic sentiments from American leaders are nothing new. America’s history of racism against AAPIs is well documented. The Chinese Exclusion Act, internment of Japanese Americans, unfair treatment of Filipino farm workers, and consistent acts of violence against AAPIs are glaring examples of hostilities AAPIs have faced in their adopted homeland.
In 1877, San Francisco Chinatown was burned down by a mob of angry white men who viewed Chinese laborers as a threat to jobs, security and public health. During WWII, my grandfather’s business near downtown Los Angeles had bricks thrown through the window, and my dad, a small child at the time, was confronted, chased, and spat on by angry neighbors who thought he was Japanese.
Given America’s history, this makes President Biden’s action even more noteworthy and laudable. We are a minority group easy to victimize. Nationally, we are a relatively small number at an estimated 6-7 percent of the U.S. population. This makes AAPIs vulnerable to bullying, discrimination and violence. We simply don’t have institutions, organizations and leaders willing to stand up for us when injustices occur.
Unlike other communities of color and marginalized groups, AAPIs historically and currently do not have the infrastructure and mechanism to call out discrimination and violence when it occurs. This has been true throughout our history in America. For too long, we’ve been the insular quiet minority that just tried to blend in and not be heard. However, it’s impossible to blend in when you look different and you are the perpetual foreigner in your own land.
President Biden’s act makes it clear that AAPIs are Americans, and deserve the protections and dignity afforded to every American irrespective of race, color or creed. Furthermore, as President Biden noted, AAPIs are on the front lines as doctors, nurses, and other healthcare providers fighting the pandemic here in America. AAPI scientists and researchers played a key role in helping to develop critical vaccines which are being administered today. And while we watch the evening news and see incidents of racial violence and protests, we also see AAPI medical professionals providing the latest news and information based on science and facts to help keep the populace informed.
We love America, we came here just like every other American – for a chance at a better life. President Biden is standing with us – let’s stand with him in bringing our country together.
It is up to us to stand up to the bullies, the despots, the dictators and those who would deny any American the chance to contribute to our society, improve their lives and better the opportunities for their families – even if that person is the President of the United States.
What a difference a few weeks make. Thank you, President Biden!