WASHINGTON — The National Council of Asian Pacific Americans (NCAPA) issued a statement on H.Res. 908, which was passed by the House of Representatives on Sept. 17 by a vote of 243-164 with 1 present.
NCAPA had sent a letter to congressional leadership on March 11 calling for passing such a resolution.
“Today, the U.S. House of Representatives has sent a strong message that despite the overwhelming challenges our country faces today, we are stronger together,” NCAPA said. “We commend Rep. [Grace] Meng, the members of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) and Speaker [Nancy] Pelosi for their tireless leadership on this issue and thank all members who voted in favor of this legislation.
“Invariably, there will be those who insist that blaming China for COVID-19 isn’t racist; and we have maintained that there will be a time and place to hold all world leaders accountable for their responses to the pandemic. However, so long as elected officials insist on racializing the virus to deflect blame or dodge accountability, we’ll be here to remind them that Asian Americans will not be collateral or scapegoats for their failed leadership.”
Following are statements from NCAPA member organizations:
Katrina Dizon Mariategue, acting executive director, Southeast Asia Resource Action Center (SEARAC): “President Trump’s insistence on referring to COVID-19 as the ‘China virus’ has opened the door to xenophobic and racist harassment of the Asian American and Southeast Asian American communities. While we grapple with lockdowns in our communities, lack of clear information and leadership, and language barriers to accessing necessary healthcare and culturally competent mental health support, we have also been put at undue risk of physical and mental abuse because of this hateful framing of COVID-19.
“We thank Rep. Meng, CAPAC, and Speaker Pelosi for their leadership on this important issue and call on our leadership to respect the rights, identities, and experiences of Southeast Asian Americans and all Asian American communities.”
Bonnie Lee Wolf, president, National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA): “With the increase in hate crimes and incidents against Asian American and Pacific Islanders due to anti-Asian rhetoric related to COVID-19, we applaud the actions being taken by members of Congress in supporting our community. NAPABA is proud to have supported this resolution, and its passage is a step in the right direction of our country’s leaders condemning acts of hate.”
John C. Yang, president and executive director, Advancing Justice–AAJC: “Words matter. In this case, the words of the president and certain politicians have helped to fuel COVID-19 xenophobic attacks. I am proud of Rep. Grace Meng and CAPAC for speaking out against the political rhetoric and doing something to try to reduce the discrimination and aggression our communities are facing on top of a global pandemic.”
Kathy Ko Chin, president and CEO, Asian and Pacific Islander American Health Forum (APIAHF): “We applaud the House of Representatives for reaffirming that racist tropes against Asians and Asian Americans do not belong in our national efforts to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. This resolution highlights the need for our communities to stay united in order to successfully fight this pandemic.”
Roland Hwang, vice president of public affairs, OCA-Asian Pacific American Advocates: “We thank Rep. Meng, members of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC), and members of Congress who voted in favor of this legislation. While this resolution is a step in the right direction to start addressing hate, xenophobia, and anti-Asian rhetoric for our country, our work is far from over. It is crucial to have all elected officials show their leadership in using inclusive and accurate terminology, and avoid proliferating misinformation.”
Rippi Gill, president, South Asian Bar Association of North America (SABA): “We applaud Congresswoman Meng, the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, and all the leaders in Congress who stood in solidarity today with the Asian Pacific American community to pass H.Res. 908. We must not succumb as a country to divisive politics that use BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Color) communities to deflect from pressing matters of national concern.
“The South Asian Bar Association of North America has been deeply concerned with the exponential increase in hate crimes and discrimination towards the Asian Pacific American community this past year, and we hope leaders across the country will follow the House’s leadership in condemning anti-Asian Pacific American sentiment in all of its forms.”
Lakshmi Sridaran, executive director, South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT): “Elected officials must not only unequivocally condemn by name and through action the xenophobic political rhetoric around the coronavirus, but more importantly must refrain from setting the tone by using this language themselves. Failure to do so will only further endanger Asian communities in the U.S.
“SAALT along with our allies continue to document incidents of hate violence targeting Asian Americans in response to this racist rhetoric coming from our government. The criminalization of people of color during times of crisis is not new and we were reminded of that harsh reality with the 19-year anniversary of 9/11 just last week. It’s imperative that House members take a clear position to ensure history doesn’t continue to repeat itself.”
Adam P. Carbullido, director of policy and advocacy, Association of Asian Pacific Community Health Organizations (AAPCHO): “Racism has no place in America, and it is important that these actions be rejected when they occur. While it is not new for Asian Americans to be victims of hatred and bigotry, we have unfortunately seen our communities increasingly targeted, exacerbating fears to seek health care and jeopardizing public health and safety during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“AAPCHO applauds Congresswoman Meng for introducing this resolution and the House of Representatives for standing firm in condemning anti-Asian sentiments. We join communities across the nation in denouncing all forms of racism not just against Asian Americans but also against the Black, indigenous, and other communities of color. We continue to call on our elected leaders to enact equitable and just policies that will help dismantle the public health crisis that is racism.”
David Inoue, executive director, Japanese American Citizens League (JACL): “COVID-19 has taken an enormous toll on this country, but to an even greater degree for Asian Americans where overt acts of hate have terrorized our communities. House Resolution 908 speaks as the voice of the American people that this country stands against the demagoguery and false attributions of COVID-19 to Asian Americans.
“We hope that Majority Leader [Mitch] McConnell will take up the companion resolution in the Senate so that Congress may speak with a unified voice in opposition to anti-Asian racism.”
Based in Washington, D.C., the National Council of Asian Pacific Americans is a coalition of 37 national Asian Pacific American organizations that serves to represent the interests of Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities and to provide a national voice for those communities’ concerns.