WASHINGTON – The Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC), the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC), and the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) – collectively known as the Tri-Caucus – on Aug. 10 hosted a congressional forum on the rise of anti-Asian bigotry during the COVID-19 pandemic, which has resulted in over 2,400 hate crimes and incidents targeting Asian Americans in recent months.
The forum featured witness testimony from Tanny Rutdow Jiraprapasuke, who was verbally assaulted for being Asian American, and Zach Own, a bystander who suffered permanent injury for intervening to stop an anti-Asian hate crime.
Other expert witnesses included Manjusha Kulkarni, executive director of the Asian Pacific Policy and Planning Council; John Yang, president and executive director of Asian Americans Advancing Justice-AAJC; and Commissioner Michael Yaki from the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. The Tri-Caucus chairs issued the following statements:
Rep. Judy Chu (D-Pasadena), chair of CAPAC: “Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, we have witnessed an alarming rise in anti-Asian hate crimes and incidents targeting innocent Asian Americans simply because of their race. Unfortunately, these attacks have been exacerbated in recent months by President Trump’s use of racial slurs like ‘China virus’ and ‘kung flu’ in order to deflect anger away from his own failed response to the coronavirus by stoking xenophobia and fear. But, as we have seen by the over 2,400 anti-Asian hate incidents in recent months, this is a lethal strategy that puts Asian American lives at risk.
“Today, we heard from the victims of the president’s bigotry. Tanny Rutdow Jiraprapasuke, a Thai American, described the verbal assaults she endured simply for being perceived as Chinese. And Zach Owen shared with us the lasting physical and emotional wounds he carries after intervening to save the lives of an Asian American family at the Texas Sam’s Club where he works.
“These two stories highlight not only the danger of a president who fuels xenophobia, but also the power of Americans to stand united against division and hate. Zach told us he acted because he knew it was more important that we stand together as Americans, no matter our background, and that is why it means so much to me that today’s forum was co-hosted by the Congressional Black and Hispanic Caucuses.
“The Tri-Caucus has been united in opposing bigotry against any community of color because we know that an attack on one is an attack on us all. And their support in leading this conversation is essential for encouraging more Americans to intervene when they see discrimination occurring. We cannot tolerate bigotry in our country. I hope today’s forum helped more Americans to understand the reality of rising anti-Asian bigotry, and the role each of us can play in stopping it.”
Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-Texas), chair of CHC: “I’m proud the Hispanic Caucus and the Black Caucus joined in solidarity with the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus in condemning the rise of anti-Asian hate during the coronavirus crisis. Let’s be clear: people of Asian heritage, just like those of Latino descent, are Americans worthy of respect and dignity.
“Unfortunately, President Trump has actively incited racism by insisting on calling COVID-19 the ‘Chinese virus’ and other racist terms. We need to unequivocally denounce this hateful rhetoric in the short term and simultaneously push for structural changes to address inequity and injustice in the long term. I’m grateful for the work of Chair Chu and our colleagues in CAPAC, and I’m looking forward to continuing our strong partnership moving forward.”
Rep. Karen Bass (D-Los Angeles), chair of CBC: “As the pandemic continues to disproportionately impact communities of color, it has also unleashed widespread xenophobic and racist attacks towards the Asian-American community, fueled by racist remarks from our country’s highest office in the land.
“President Trump’s continuous use of terms such as the ‘Chinese virus’ or ‘kung flu virus’ to describe COVID-19 despite numerous requests to stop is inexcusable. He has gone so far as to even use the term during a campaign rally, encouraging attendees to join along. These antics are all in the midst of heightened targeted vicious attacks against members of the Asian American community.
“In the midst of this moral moment, the Tri-Caucus will continue to collectively unite our voices to speak out against bigotry and hate anywhere.”
The whole forum is available to view online. Click here.