By Kimmy Yam
▲ Rep. Judy Chu, D-Calif., speaks during the third day of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia on July 27, 2016.Paul Sancya / AP file
“The best way to stop the spread of coronavirus is to wash your hands, not perpetuate racist stereotypes,” reads a letter sent from the Asian American caucus to fellow Congress members.
Asian American lawmakers are calling on their colleagues to halt the spread of rumors regarding coronavirus, in an effort to curb the rising xenophobia and discrimination tied to the illness.
The Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus issued a letter Wednesday to their fellow members of Congress, urging them to “help us prevent hysteria, ignorant attacks, and racist assaults that have been fueled by misinformation pertaining to the 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19)” by only sharing confirmed and verifiable information. Rep. Judy Chu, who chairs the caucus and held a press conference regarding the letter Friday, explained it’s legislators’ responsibility to inform constituents in a productive, accurate way.
“The members of Congress are the trusted sources out there,” she told NBC News. “So if they say something about what the truth actually is, I think it has meaning. Also, of course, the members of Congress have a huge role to play in calming the public.”
In the letter, legislators point out that there have been several occasions in which Asian Americans have been attacked as a racist byproduct of the virus. In Indiana, two Hmong guests were harassed and barred from staying at first a Super 8 and then a Days Inn. In another incident, an Asian teen in California was bullied, assaulted, and sent to the emergency due to fears surrounding coronavirus.