Will you call on all public officials and candidates for any office this year to speak out against racist attacks on Asian Americans or other people of color and to refrain from statements that encourage those attacks?
The number of hate and bias incidents reported to the Oregon Department of Justice has more than tripled compared to the same period last year, according to Oregon Public Broadcasting.
This is not surprising given that elected officials and candidates across the political spectrum are using the current health and economic crisis to encourage racist attacks on Asian Americans.
For example, the presumed presidential candidates of both major political parties have placed television ads using words and images to blame “the Chinese” for deaths and layoffs in the United States.
This comes at a time when people of color are hit hardest both by the virus and by the economic crisis because they disproportionately work in at-risk jobs and have less access to health care.
For example, Latinos account for 31% of the nearly 2,100 Oregonians with coronavirus whose ethnicity is known, even though they represent only 13% of the state’s total population, according to the Oregonian.
Many governments around the world, including the top leaders of both China and the U.S., have failed to protect their people by planning ahead for an inevitable pandemic, acting swiftly at the first signs of the new virus, ensuring that everyone has health care, providing workplace and economic protection for all working people, and providing clear and transparent information.
The people of those nations, whether in China, the U.S., or other countries, are not responsible for their rulers’ failures.
Criticism of the actions of top leaders of the U.S. or other nations is appropriate. Using words and images to blame “the Chinese” or “China” for the actions of that government is no more appropriate than it would be for people in other countries to blame “the Americans” or “America” for failures of top U.S. leaders.
Communities of color, working class people, and women are disproportionately impacted by the current crisis. Please tell all elected officials and candidates, regardless of party, that they should be addressing those impacts and speaking out against increased racist attacks rather than using the most vulnerable as scapegoats for political gain.