Viruses don't discriminate and neither should we.
As the COVID-19 disease continues to spread rapidly, countries all over the world are taking extreme measures to slow its growth. However, a more alarming trend is also emerging: violence, bullying, and harassment directed toward people of Asian descent in the United States. There is an uptick in recently reported incidents of violence against Asian Americans, including a teenager being physically assaulted and a family of four stabbed while trying to buy groceries. Though the initial spread of COVID-19 occurred in China, it is important that we increase awareness that the disease is linked to a geographic location and not to a race or nationality. We must call out harmful language and behavior and do all we can to stop it. We all have an obligation to treat everyone with dignity; associating whole groups of people with events that occur in different parts of the world is dangerous to individuals and families in our communities.
It is unacceptable when our neighbors are scared to go to the grocery store or take a walk for fear of being targeted. But the question is: What can we do about it? Below are a few suggestions:
Model inclusion and compassion.
Avoid making negative statements about any racial, ethnic, or religious group. Reach out to your neighbors and colleagues who might feel at risk because of their ethnicity, religion, or other traits.
Provide accurate information.
Providing accurate information about people, events, and culture is important. This is especially important when news reports have negative statements about any specific group.
Avoid stereotyping people or countries.
In order to avoid creating prejudice and mistrust, don’t focus on the nationality, ethnicity, or appearance of those who live where COVID-19 originated.
Stop any type of harassment or bullying immediately.
Speak up when you hear, see, or read discriminatory comments, particularly on social media.
In the end, let’s remember that stigma will not fight COVID-19, but sharing accurate information will. Calling it a 'Chinese virus' only encourages stereotyping, anger, and harassment against people of Asian descent at a time when we should all be working together to get through this public health crisis.
- Report an incident to the Asian Pacific Policy & Planning Council.
- An Accessible Public Communications Checklist intended to be reviewed before any document is publicly released.
- A Communications Sweet Tool for general communications guidance.
- A Language Justice sweet tool for guidance on increasing accessible and meaningful language engagement.
- Inclusive Virtual Community Engagement During COVID-19.
- Stop the Spread poster