To strongly condemn the racism wrapped around the COVID-19 pandemic, a multicultural coalition that included leaders from the Congressional Black Caucus, Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus and Congressional Hispanic Caucus came together for a virtual press conference on March 30, NBC News reports. The group included all three caucus chairs—Reps. Karen Bass (D-Calif.), Judy Chu (D-Calif.) and Joaquin Castro (D-Texas)—as well as leaders of the full Democratic caucus.
The collective push back comes after President Donald Trump has repeatedly called the pandemic “the Chinese Virus,” on Twitter and during press conferences. There has been a marked rise in racist attacks against Asian Americans, which Colorlines reported on March 27 had reached more than 650 incidents, according to information from the Asian Pacific Policy and Planning Council and Chinese for Affirmative Action joint online incident reporting site, Stop AAPI Hate. Earlier this month, the three caucuses published a joint statement titled, “Democratic Leaders of Color: Trump’s Use of ‘Chinese Virus’ Endangers Lives.”
“The name of the virus causing the crisis in America and around the world is the 2019 novel coronavirus, or COVID-19 for short. It has a name,” wrote Bass, Castro and Chu in the release. “But Republicans, from President Trump on down, have insisted on creating and using alternatives such as the ‘Chinese’ or ‘Wuhan’ virus. This is dangerous and they know it.”
Leading Monday’s press conference, which can be viewed on YouTube, Democratic caucus chairman Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) said, “We are here today to speak in one clear and unequivocal voice as it relates to the hateful rhetoric and acts that have been directed against our Asian-American brothers and sisters. Our message is clear to anyone who is purveying such xenophobia or purveying such hateful rhetoric and inspiring the targeting of Asian Americans throughout the land. Cut. It. Out.”
As Rep. Chu, who chairs the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, told NBC News on March 31, she’s clear who the offenders are. “Of course, there are the other people in [Trump’s] party that are in Congress that have continued to use that term, including our minority leader, Kevin McCarthy,” Chu said. “So he should send the message directly to them if he really means what he said when he said ‘Asian Americans should not be blamed for the coronavirus.’”
While Democratic leaders continue to pressure the administration, Congressional Black Caucus Chair Bass told NBC that the rhetoric is par for the course in this country. “These attacks are nothing new, unfortunately, in the history of our country at different points in time. White supremacy rears its head, and there have been attacks on one of our communities,” Bass said. “And so, us standing in solidarity today, the Congressional Black Caucus, the Hispanic Caucus and CAPAC, that amounts to us continuing a historical tradition. I hope that we don’t have to have this historical tradition forever.”
To watch the full press conference, see below.