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How Asian Americans are Fighting Bias and Racism in 2020

“Asian American hate is as old as American history.” 

Racial hate continues to surge through 2020, a year with substantial need for racial justice for people of color, including Asian Americans. Asian Americans have faced a dangerous wave of racism as an effect of people’s racist perspectives of the pandemic, especially racist remarks influenced by President Donald Trump.

Below, CBS News discusses how Asian Americans are fighting bias and racism in 2020. 

View the video and article here.


OCTOBER 8, 2020 / 11:18 AM / CBS NEWS

The year 2020 has been a battle for Asian Americans. A battle for their lives in a pandemic. A battle against racial bias and attacks. A battle for respect as essential workers and business owners. Most of all, it has always been a struggle to be seen and heard as Americans.

George Takei, the "Star Trek" actor and civil rights activist, spent time in a Japanese American internment camp when he was a child in World War II. He says this is history repeating itself: "Asian American hate is as old as American history and overnight, this country was swept up by suspicion and fear and naked, outright hatred. We had nothing to do with Pearl Harbor. There was no charge. Other than looking like this."

In "Asian Americans: Battling Bias," a CBSN special produced by the CBS News Race and Culture unit, CBSN anchor Elaine Quijano reports on the devastating effects COVID-19 has on the Asian American community, which has a much higher mortality rate than White Americans. "The South Asian and the Filipino American population are known to have higher rates of diabetes," which is known "to be a predisposing factor to worse outcomes," said Chicago cardiologist Dr. Nilay Shah. Economically, over 233,000 Asian American businesses have closed, and unemployment has tripled.

CBS News White House correspondent Weijia Jiang reports on the growing number of racist attacks many Asian Americans have endured. Over a three-month period, over 2,120 hate incidents or crimes were reported by Asian Americans between March and June, according to the Asian Pacific Policy and Planning Council and Chinese for Affirmative Action. There's been a nearly 845% increase compared to all the reported cases in 2017, 2018 and 2019 combined. The tone of the country has been exacerbated by President Trump, who refers to the virus as "Kung Flu" or the "Chinese virus."

According to the 2020 Asian American Voter Survey, which surveyed over 1,569 Asian American voters, 51% of respondents were concerned about hate crimes related to COVID-19, and, over 79% believed that discrimination against Asian Americans exists in society.

CBS News correspondent Nancy Chen reports on a new generation of Asian Americans who have found common ground with Black Lives Matter and the shared experience of discrimination.

"Black and Brown" has become synonymous with Black Americans and South Asian Americans. Young people of all colors are on the frontlines of protests around the country. Activist Tiffany Tso said, "COVID-19 definitely sparked another awakening, where younger generations of Asian Americans have been for the first time experiencing — this more overt, in your face racism."

CBS News correspondent Michael George reports on the new power of a growing minority that now has over 11 million voters in November's election. There are pockets of Asian American voters in congressional districts in swing states like Nevada, Arizona and Texas that could have a big effect on the presidential election.

Nevada community activist Jaewon Jung said, "I am scared for the future of the country. I think one of the biggest issues right now is that people are so divided. One thing I'm going to look for in a candidate is to unite all of the groups together."

After a tough 2020, Asian Americans are hoping to see a more United States of America in 2021. Takei summed it up best, "If we remain invisible and voiceless, then we will be victimized."

Rep. Grace Meng’s H.Res.908

APAPA is grateful for Representative Grace Meng’s leadership in introducing #HRes908, a resolution that condemns all forms of anti-Asian bigotry related to COVID-19. Rep. Grace Meng’s #HRes908 is a step in the right direction to standing up against hatred and rejecting racism. To learn more about Rep. Grace Meng’s resolutions please see NCAPAP’s statement below:

September 17, 2020

Washington, D.C.—the National Council of Asian Pacific Americans (NCAPA) issued the following statement on H.Res. 908, which was passed by the House of Representatives on Thursday by a vote of 243-164 with 1 present. NCAPA had sent a letter to Congressional leadership on March 11 calling for passing such a resolution. A copy of that letter can be found here.

Today, the U.S. House of Representatives has sent a strong message that despite the overwhelming challenges our country faces today, we are stronger together. We commend Rep. Meng, the Members of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) and Speaker Pelosi for their tireless leadership on this issue and thank all Members who voted in favor of this legislation. 

Invariably, there will be those who insist that blaming China for COVID-19 isn’t racist; and we have maintained that there will be a time and place to hold all world leaders accountable for their responses to the pandemic. However, so long as elected officials insist on racializing the virus to deflect blame or dodge accountability, we’ll be here to remind them that Asian Americans will not be collateral or scapegoats for their failed leadership. 

Katrina Dizon Mariategue, Acting Executive Director of Southeast Asia Resource Action Center (SEARAC) stated: 

“President Trump’s insistence on referring to COVID-19 as the “China Virus” has opened the door to xenophobic and racist harassment of the Asian American and Southeast Asian American communities. While we grapple with lockdowns in our communities, lack of clear information and leadership, and language barriers to accessing necessary healthcare and culturally competent mental health support, we have also been put at undue risk of physical and mental abuse because of this hateful framing of COVID-19. We thank Representative Meng, CAPAC, and Speaker Pelosi for their leadership on this important issue and call on our leadership to respect the rights, identities, and experiences of Southeast Asian Americans and all Asian American communities.” 

Bonnie Lee Wolf, President of the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA) said: 

“With the increase in hate crimes and incidents against Asian American and Pacific Islanders due to anti-Asian rhetoric related to COVID-19, we applaud the actions being taken by members of Congress in supporting our community. NAPABA is proud to have supported this resolution, and its passage is a step in the right direction of our country’s leaders condemning acts of hate.”

John C. Yang, President and Executive Director of Advancing Justice – AAJC stated: 

“Words matter. In this case, the words of the President and certain politicians have helped to fuel COVID-19 xenophobic attacks. I am proud of Rep. Grace Meng and CAPAC for speaking out against the political rhetoric and doing something to try to reduce the discrimination and aggression our communities are facing on top of a global pandemic.”

Kathy Ko Chin, President & CEO of Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum (APIAHF) added: 

“We applaud the House of Representatives for reaffirming that racist tropes against Asians and Asian Americans do not belong in our national efforts to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. This resolution highlights the need for our communities to stay united in order to successfully fight this pandemic.”

Roland Hwang, Vice President of Public Affairs for OCA-Asian Pacific American Advocates (OCA) said: 

“We thank Representative Meng, members of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC), and members of Congress who voted in favor of this legislation. While this resolution is a step in the right direction to start addressing hate, xenophobia, and anti-Asian rhetoric for our country, our work is far from over. It is crucial to have all elected officials show their leadership in using inclusive and accurate terminology, and avoid proliferating misinformation.” 

Rippi Gill, President of the South Asian Bar Association of North America (SABA) stated:

“We applaud Congresswoman Meng, the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, and all the leaders in Congress who stood in solidarity today with the Asian Pacific American community to pass H.Res. 908. We must not succumb as a country to divisive politics that use BIPOC communities to deflect from pressing matters of national concern. The South Asian Bar Association of North America has been deeply concerned with the exponential increase in hate crimes and discrimination towards the Asian Pacific American community this past year, and we hope leaders across the country will follow the House’s leadership in condemning anti-Asian Pacific American sentiment in all of its forms.”

Lakshmi Sridaran, Executive Director of South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT) added: 

“Elected officials must not only unequivocally condemn by name and through action the xenophobic political rhetoric around the coronavirus, but more importantly must refrain from setting the tone by using this language themselves. Failure to do so will only further endanger Asian communities in the U.S. SAALT along with our allies continue to document incidents of hate violence targeting Asian Americans in response to this racist rhetoric coming from our government. The criminalization of people of color during times of crisis is not new and we were reminded of that harsh reality with the 19-year anniversary of 9/11 just last week. It’s imperative that House Members take a clear position to ensure history doesn’t continue to repeat itself.”

Adam P. Carbullido, Director of Policy and Advocacy of Association of Asian Pacific Community Health Organizations (AAPCHO) said: 

“Racism has no place in America, and it is important that these actions be rejected when they occur. While it is not new for Asian Americans to be victims of hatred and bigotry, we have unfortunately seen our communities increasingly targeted, exacerbating fears to seek health care and jeopardizing public health and safety during the COVID-19 pandemic. AAPCHO applauds Congresswoman Meng for introducing this resolution and the House of Representatives for standing firm in condemning anti-Asian sentiments. We join communities across the nation in denouncing all forms of racism not just against Asian Americans but also against the Black, indigenous, and other communities of color. We continue to call on our elected leaders to enact equitable and just policies that will help dismantle the public health crisis that is racism.”

David Inoue, Executive Director of Japanese American Citizens League (JACL) stated: 

“COVID-19 has taken an enormous toll on this country, but to an even greater degree for Asian Americans where overt acts of hate have terrorized our communities. House Resolution 908 speaks as the voice of the American people that this country stands against the demagoguery and false attributions of COVID-19 to Asian Americans. We hope that Majority Leader McConnell will take up the companion resolution in the Senate so that Congress may speak with a unified voice in opposition to anti-Asian racism.”


Based in Washington, D.C., the National Council of Asian Pacific Americans is a coalition of 37 national Asian Pacific American organizations that serves to represent the interests of Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities and to provide a national voice for our communities’ concerns. Our communities are the fastest growing racial/ethnic group in the United States, currently making up approximately six percent of the population.

APAPA Urges Crimes Targeting Asian Americans Must Stop,

Works for Inclusiveness to Achieve the “American Dream”

Sacramento, CA – APAPA is extremely concerned about recent unprovoked attacks on elderly Asian Americans in San Francisco, Oakland, and the South Bay communities. Several of these attacks occurred in broad daylight and were captured in horrific details on videos. Some appear to be hate crimes while others are robbery attempts. In San Francisco, Vicha Ratanapakdee, an 84-year-old from Thailand, died after he was abruptly attacked while out on a morning walk on January 28, 2021. A 19-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of murder and elder abuse in the case.

Sadly, many of the victims are elderly Asian Americans who are economically-disadvantaged. The majority of these attacks are racially-motivated through scapegoating and placing blame on China, and by extension Chinese Americans, for causing the present world-wide pandemic by lies and innuendos perpetuated by the highest office of our land. 

At a news conference in Oakland’s Chinatown on February 10, Alameda County District Attorney, Nancy O’Malley, announced the creation of a special response unit focused on crimes against APIs, and particularly older API individuals. The new unit stems from two similar attacks in northern California last week as well as a spate of crime in Oakland’s Chinatown. We applaud the appointment of the new Oakland Chief of Police, LeRonne Armstrong, who made it clear that such crimes in Chinatown will not be tolerated and said that “there will be a new day in Chinatown.” 

It is especially unfortunate, yet ironic that some of these attackers were members of other minorities who have suffered from prejudices and racial injustices themselves. It is a sad commentary that America may have descended into an abyss where primal instincts have taken over and where tribal-rules prevail and where preys are preying on fellow victims. 

APAPA applauds the efforts of many leaders who have spoken up on this issue, and especially on the efforts of our Chapter Chairs Dennis Wu in San Francisco and Carl Chan in Oakland for corralling private and public support to immediately stop and reverse these downward-spiraling trends. They are both outreaching to Asian Americans and every other minority group in our community to form coalitions to fundamentally solve this intolerable situation. 

Our Chairman, Dr. Ken Fong, is re-emphasizing that America is only strong when there are equality and justice for everyone. APAPA pledges to work with every group to make this the land where “all men are created equal,” and that we all join hands in working collectively to make the elusive “American Dream” come true for ALL.


Increasing Hate Crimes Against Asian Americans 

Sacramento, CA – The rise in hate crimes against Asian and Pacific Islander Americans (APIA) has dramatically increased over the past four months wherein California 800 incidents have been reported since the beginning of the government-sanctioned shutdown.

** Nationwide, up to 2,100 incidents against APIA have been reported since the pandemic hit the United States.**

For example, a recent video of a white man verbally attacking an Asian family celebrating an aunt’s birthday in a Carmel Valley restaurant went viral. According to the Mercury News, the man shouted expletives at the family and told them to “go back to whatever [expletive] Asian country you’re from.” The irony is not lost to many that the man himself is a recent immigrant telling Asian Americans to go “home.”

Another Asian family was hiking on a California trail when a white woman confronted them out of nowhere and told them, “you guys can’t be in this country.” ABC7 News has reported that the abuser has since resigned from her position as Chief People Officer at Topa Equities.

These are not isolated incidents, with the surge of COVID-19, there are mounting reports of xenophobic and racist incidents targeting Asian Americans. Statements such as “Chinese virus,” “Kung Flu” or “Wu Flu” have exacerbated the scapegoating and targeting of the APIA community. According to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), “extremists continue to spread anti-Semitic and xenophobic conspiracies about COVID-19, blaming Jews and China for creating, spreading and profiting off the virus.”

Asian Pacific Islander American Public Affairs Association (APAPA) is deeply disturbed with this trend and once again, condemns these acts of hateful incidents that divide humanity. Furthermore, APAPA encourages all our members to report all hate crimes at the following sites:

1) Stop AAPI Hate (A3PCON & CAA):
2) Stand Against Hatred (AAJC):
3) Report A Hate Incident (OCA):

We stand up for our rights and will not tolerate verbal or physical abuse of any kind!

API Women's Leadership Conference

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