With more than 2,000 incidents and little action from the federal government, efforts to curtail pandemic-related racism have fallen to P.S.A.s and social media campaigns.
President Trump has repeatedly described the coronavirus as the “Chinese virus” and, in recent weeks, as “kung flu,” despite saying publicly that it is “very important that we totally protect our Asian-American community in the United States” and that the pandemic is “not their fault in any way.” Inflammatory statements from leaders can exacerbate racist behavior, according to researchers and civil rights leaders.
To counter that, a new public service announcement makes a point that federal leaders have largely overlooked: Asian-Americans are facing a surge of harassment linked to fears about the coronavirus pandemic.
The spot, which debuted on Tuesday, includes testimonials from a firefighter, a nurse, a driver, an artist, the celebrity chef Melissa King and others, who describe being told to “go back to China” or having people spit in their direction.
The somber ad, produced by the nonprofit Advertising Council with help from the Emmy-winning writer Alan Yang, ends with a request: “Fight the virus. Fight the bias.”
Anxiety about the novel respiratory virus, which was first detected in Wuhan, China, has fueled xenophobia and bigotry toward people of Asian descent. A coalition of civil rights groups recorded more than 2,100 incidents in 15 weeks; the New York City Commission on Human Rights recently described a “sharp increase in instances of hostility and harassment.” A list of recent cases compiled by the Anti-Defamation League chronicles “surging reports of xenophobic and racist incidents,” including Asian-owned stores defaced with racist graffiti, video chats disrupted by anti-Asian comments and people being beaten or denied entry to businesses.