Since the emergence of COVID-19 in China in late 2019, CAA has actively spoken out against the rise of racism against Asians. In national forums, as well as in local meetings, we’ve worked to raise awareness and hold public officials accountable for language that blames any one group of people for the coronavirus.
On June 30, 2020, CAA’s co-executive director Cynthia Choi joined Chinatown community leaders and medical professionals, clad in white coats, outside of San Francisco’s Chinese Hospital to condemn racist attacks against Asian Americans linked to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Organized by the Chinese Community Task Force on COVID-19, the socially-distanced press event came 10 days after Trump referred to COVID-19 as the “kung flu” at a campaign rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The president has also repeatedly called the coronavirus the “Chinese virus” and “Wuhan virus.”
The group denounced Trump’s remarks, saying that his words and actions were dangerously dismissive of guidance provided by the Centers for Disease Control to slow the spread of COVID-19. The United States is only 4% of the world’s population yet it has 25% of its cases. Diagnoses and hospitalizations have increased across the country, making it the global leader in coronavirus cases. As of this writing, there are more than 4 million cases in the U.S.
“I’m angry that Trump deliberately spreads fear, xenophobia, and blame on people who look like my mentor and me,” said medical student Leena Yin. Yin said that her mentor is a Chinese American emergency room physician who risks his life caring for COVID-19 patients.
California Assemblymember David Chiu pointed out that Asian communities are facing a triple crisis: the coronavirus pandemic, economic recession, and racism.
Asian Americans have seen a rise in hate incidents against them since the start of the pandemic. CAA’s Cynthia Choi shared that Stop AAPI Hate, a website for reporting discrimination started by a coalition of groups, including CAA, had received more than 2,100 reports since it launched on March 19. Of these, 500 incidents involved Chinese Americans. CAA and other advocates have asked Governor Newsom to devote resources to fighting racism.
Instead of engaging in divisive rhetoric or blaming one group, people must work together to contain the coronavirus, said Dr Jian Zhang, the CEO of Chinese Hospital. Chinatown has proven that this can be done. Through coordination among Chinese Hospital, Chinatown organizations, the San Francisco Health Department, the community took early action to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
“The Chinatown community, despite being one of the most densely populated areas, we actually have the lowest infection rate in San Francisco,” she said.