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Joe Biden Signs Executive Order Condemning Anti-Asian Racism Related To COVID-19

Marina Fang
·2-min read

President Joe Biden signed an executive order Tuesday condemning the wave of anti-Asian racism accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic, a largely symbolic measure but one that nevertheless stands in stark contrast to the actions of his predecessor, who actively fomented racism against Asian Americans.

It recommends that federal health authorities should make sure their COVID-19 response “demonstrates cultural competency, language access, and sensitivity towards AAPIs.” It also directs the Department of Justice to make more concerted efforts to address hate crimes and harassment against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, in partnership with AAPI community leaders.

Since the beginning of last year, Asian Americans have experienced a surge in racist attacks and harassment related to the COVID-19 pandemic. As early as January 2020, when COVID-19 cases first began to surge in China, Asian American businesses reported a precipitous drop in sales and patronage due to COVID-19 fears. By March, many Asian Americans began documenting experiences of racism, including being called racial slurs, being spat on and/or physically assaulted, as well as being denied services, experiencing workplace discrimination and other potential civil rights violations.

A coalition of AAPI advocacy groups and scholars called STOP AAPI HATE started collecting these incidents in an online database. By August, they had received reports of 2,583 racist incidents from respondents in 47 states and Washington, D.C. The number is likely an undercount because the data is self-reported and voluntary.

Former President Donald Trump continually poured gasoline on the fire, frequently referring to the pandemic using racist and xenophobic slurs, fear-mongering against people of Asian descent and blaming China to distract from his own shambolic response to the pandemic.

In September, the House passed legislation similar to Biden’s executive order. The nonbinding resolution condemned and...

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