The virus at the center of the current pandemic reshaping all American lives goes by many names: COVID-19, coronavirus, to name a few. Recently, President Trump and his cheerleaders have called it the “Chinese Virus” and the “Chinese Flu.” President Trump and other lawmakers doubled down insisting that these are not racist terms.
Let’s call these made-up labels what they are: racist. They are not only race-baiting, but they are dangerous and have already incited violence against the Asian American community.
Center for Disease Control (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines on naming infectious diseases recommends against using location-based names to avoid the stigmatization of locations and ethnicities. The CDC, WHO, and medical professionals have widely denounced the President’s use of the label, “Chinese virus,” stating that it is inaccurate and inappropriate. The United States Commission on Civil Rights, the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, the California Asian Pacific Islander Legislative Caucus, and many others condemn the use of those racist terms.
These terms fuel xenophobia, bigotry, discrimination and violence against the Asian American community. The STOP AAPI Hate Reporting Center (www.bity.ly/stopaapihate), launched a little over a week ago, tracks incidents of harassment and violence against Asian Americans. Incredibly, just within the last week, more than 750 incidents have been reported nationwide, and over 100 in San Francisco alone.
President Trump feigned support for the Asian American community but never acknowledged that his language was racist and a dog whistle for attacks against Asian Americans. The damage is already done, and without informing the public why it was wrong, the damage will keep on going.
I, along will all my colleagues on the Board of Supervisors, stand united in sponsoring a resolution condemning the term “Chinese virus” and similar terms and will urge all San Francisco departments not to use those terms.
This is the time to unite, not divide. As San Franciscans, we should rise above this behavior, and come together to focus on the very real medical problems at hand. Let us condemn President Trump’s words and not let him deflect from the challenges ahead. Let us guard against the contagion of hate and unify all communities in the face of this global pandemic. If you are a victim of an incident, please report it to www.bitly.com/stopaapihate and as always, report violent assaults or suspected hate crimes to 9-1-1.
Supervisor Norman Yee is president of the San Franciso Board of Supervisors and a former San Francisco Unified School District board member.