Asian Americans support Biden's executive order condemning racism, hate amid COVID-19 pandemic

Wednesday, January 27, 2021
Asian American organizations applaud Biden order on pandemic discrimination
The COVID-19 pandemic brought a new wave of discrimination, xenophobia and racism against Asian Americans.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- President Biden signed an executive order Tuesday condemning the wave of racism toward the Asian American Pacific Islander community in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

"There's been real damage done by the previous administration around the way they talk about COVID-19 in relation to the Asian community, people have gotten hurt," said Andy Kang, the executive director of Asian Americans Advancing Justice Chicago, which hosts bystander intervention training to combat the rise of hate crimes and harassment of Asian Americans.

Biden's executive order condemns the wave of racism toward Asian Americans in response to the pandemic. Organizations in Chicago support the change of tone.

Gary Zhao, the former president of Asian American Bar Association of Greater Chicago, said many fear for their safety in the AAPI community.

"In our discussions we have noticed many incidents of racism, xenophobia and discrimination," he said.

The AABA issued a statement last year criticizing then President Trump's for frequently referring to COVID-19 as the "China virus."

State Representative Theresa Mah's district includes Chinatown. Restaurant and shop owners in Chinatown were the first to suffer at the onset of the pandemic.

"A lot of the businesses are still trying to catch up from many months of not being able to access their customer base. A lot of businesses in Chinatown rely on tourism," she said.

Li Jin is the director of DePaul University's Global Asian Studies Program. She says there's a long history of racism against Asian Americans in this country.

"Asians have been perpetually seen as others and no matter how long they have been living here in the U.S.," said Jin who is also an associate professor at DePaul.

Many community leaders say more needs to be done to address the current racial climate, especially after what happened at the U.S. Capitol.

"Our country needs to get serious about this and hopefully January 6 was eye-opening for all those that have a say in the policymaking process," Kang said.

Asian American community groups in Chicago encourage anyone who is targeted because of their race or ethnicity to reach out for help, and report the incident.