Jan 26, 2021 - Politics & Policy

AAPI leaders praise order on discrimination but say Biden needs to do more to "prioritize" community

Side by side photos of Joe Biden and Judy Chu

President Biden on the left. Rep. Judy Chu on the right. Photos: Doug Mills-Pool (left) and Paul Morigi/WireImage for The Recording Academy (right) via Getty

Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) lawmakers, community organizers and advocacy groups commended President Biden's Tuesday order directing an examination of anti-Asian bias and discrimination, but pushed the administration to commit to stronger action.

Why it matters: Anti-Asian hate crimes have surged since the pandemic began, reaching more than 2,500 in August according to Stop AAPI Hate, an initiative that tracks anti-AAPI racism.

  • Nearly three-quarters of respondents to the 2020 Asian American Voter Survey said they believed there is significant discrimination against Asian people in the U.S., while more than half worried about experiencing hate crimes, harassment and discrimination because of the coronavirus.
  • Hundreds of AAPIs across the country rallied in protest last year after an 89-year-old Chinese American woman was set on fire in New York City.

What they're saying: Leaders across the board emphasized that AAPIs are not a monolith and urged the administration to address disparities in the pandemic, such as disproportionately high Native Hawaiian Pacific Islander (NHPI) death rates.

  • Rep. Judy Chu (D-Calif.), chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus: Anti-Asian bigotry "was exacerbated by Donald Trump and Congressional Republicans who repeatedly used racial slurs like ‘China virus’ and ‘Kung flu’ to refer to COVID-19 even though experts from the World Health Organization, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the FBI warned that it could lead to an increase in anti-Asian stigma and violence."
    • "We are elated that we now have a President who shares our desire to address anti-Asian xenophobia, rather than stoke it."
  • Katrina Dizon Mariategue, acting executive director of Southeast Asia Resource Action Center: It's critical to "go beyond just disavowing hate against the Asian American community by establishing solutions that address the root impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on our communities, which are best understood through disaggregated data."
  • Tavae Samuelu, executive director of Empowering Pacific Islander Communities: Pacific Islanders "have the highest COVID-19 case and mortality rates in almost every state that disaggregates data — yet the National Strategy for the Biden administration fails to prioritize our communities and in some places omits us entirely. There is no racial equity in the erasure of Pacific Islanders."
  • Sung Yeon Choimorrow, executive director of the National Asian Pacific American Women's Forum: "Asian American women in particular have been targeted with public racist harassment and violence, consistently reporting between two and three times more incidents than Asian American men."

Of note: Stop AAPI Hate also released a policy platform in response to Biden's order.

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