Asian Americans in Hollywood are standing up against racism towards Asians amid the spread of the deadly Coronavirus.
The daughter of late martial arts film star Bruce Lee recently took to her father’s Instagram account, criticizing Donald Trump as well as senior members of his administration who have continually referred to the Coronavirus as a “Chinese virus,” despite the World Health Organization’s warning against using geographic locations when naming illnesses out of concern that this could spark discrimination towards Asians.
“I want us all to understand there is no ‘Chinese Virus.’ A virus knows no nationality, and wherever and however it started, it does us no good to point fingers, ostracize, attack or demonize Asian people.” Shannon Lee wrote.
The phrase has now been linked to a rash of racist attacks against Asians and Asian Americans, ranging from hate-filled messages on social media platforms to violent attacks in public.
Actor Daniel Dae Kim, who was recently diagnosed with the Coronavirus, wrote that it had been “too heartbreaking” to initially comment on the “blatant acts of racism against Asian people during this outbreak.” Cenk Uygur, the host of The Young Turks, tweeted about his children being bullied by classmates. Weijia Jiang, CBS News’ White House correspondent, also spoke up about the racism, revealing that a White House official had boldly referred to the Coronavirus as the “Kung Flu” “to my face.”
The racism and stigma surrounding Asians has set off several social media campaigns such as #WashTheHate and #RacismIsAVirus. A website created by the Asian Pacific Policy and Planning Council, which is tracking accounts of anti-Asian discrimination, has been launched as a response to Trump’s rhetoric, with a goal of shedding light on misinformation about the potentially deadly virus while also assisting Asians and Asian Americans who are being wrongly attacked.
Another bold attack came down upon fashion and travel blogger, Eugénie Grey, who runs Feral Creature. She revealed on social media that she was body-slammed, and her dog was kicked while she was out for a walk.
“The person kept walking without reacting to anything I said to them,” she wrote on Instagram. Grey has since revealed to The Hollywood Reporter that she has felt depressed since and has not walked her dog outside herself since the assault occurred.
“I worry about everyone else who doesn’t have the chance to stay home around the clock: those who need to go to work or lose their apartments, those who don’t have partners to walk the dog for them, or those who have to go get groceries.”
She went on to say that Trump’s referring to the Coronavirus as the “Chinese virus” is “only adding fuel to an already blazing fire.”
“I have a heavy feeling in my gut that it’s just a matter of time until something really bad happens,” Grey stated.
Online comedic personality Eugene Lee Yang, of The Try Guys, revealed on Twitter in March that while at a coffee shop, “an older woman in front of me demanded her drink get remade because her barista was Asian.”
President of Point Made Learning, Barb Lee, also spoke with The Hollywood Reporter stating that Trump’s refusal to stop using the term “Chinese virus” does not surprise her considering the United States’ history of discriminatory public health and immigration policies. The most notable instance of this being the 1882 Chinese Exclusion act, which served as the first immigration law excluding an entire ethnic group.
“There have been incidents throughout history where new groups of immigrants come in, and we will compare them to disease; we call them filthy, we comment on their hygiene,” Lee says, adding that “when it comes to things like disease, when we can’t see it, we have a primal instinct to try to visualize it, which is, of course, ridiculous.”
Lee went on to dispel the idea of “xenophobia” being used to describe the reasoning behind the attacks.
“The definition of xenophobia is actually the fear of strangers and foreigners. What’s happening to Asian Americans is not xenophobic. We are citizens. We belong here. What’s happening is bigotry, and the incidents that we see should really be labeled as bigotry,” Lee stated.
Trump has since stopped using the term.