By Erin Chew, AsAmNews Staff Writer
It is an alarming statistic that there have been over 1,000 reports of hate incidents ranging from racial slurs to spitting to physical assaults against Asian Americans over the past few weeks. All of this racism and hate has been spurred on by the racial backlash coming out of the COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic. Many Asian Americans who once felt that America is their home, now feel like outsiders and fearful of what may happen to them if and when they head outside to do their grocery shopping, go to work or even just taking a leisurely stroll. It is disappointing that a society which is prides itself as being the “land of the free” is now becoming a hostile environment for anyone who looks Asian.
Just days ago, a Chinese American father and 2 young sons was stabbed in Midland, Texas, and there are many other news reports of physical assaults against Asian Americans all because of this virus pandemic. But, there is hope at the end of the tunnel, with activists, celebrities, influencers, community organizations and groups coming out and speaking out against this hate and racism.
The #washthehate campaign is one of these campaigns which provides a platform for all Asian Americans to stay vigilant and united throughout this difficult period. It is a campaign started by media company IW Group with the purpose of featuring “Asian American artists, leaders and influencers sharing personal stories about the pandemic’s impact on their community”.
The campaign kicked off Wednesday, March 18 with a series of videos posted to various social media platforms including Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. The clips feature participants washing their hands, according to CDC recommendations, while sharing personal stories about how the coronavirus has impacted their lives. #WashTheHate also invites the public to share their own experiences while promoting proper hand washing; which experts regard as the first defense against the virus. For more information, visit www.washthehate.com.
Telly Wong, Senior Vice President and Chief Content Officer at IW Group, told AsAm News that:
“The campaign itself was a result of seeing the growing number of reports of hate crimes in America against Asian Americans, and many of these hate crimes are taking place in my home state of New York. It is not just one isolated case it is literally happening several times a week, so really something needs to be done about it.”
“The purpose of the #washthehate campaign is to unify different voices around this issue. I remember growing up in New York and seeing cases of Chinese delivery men being robbed and killed and no one in the mainstream really cared much about it. This campaign is not just for all Asian Americans but it is also one which is personal to myself.”
One of the celebrities who have teamed up with IW group on this campaign is Tzi Ma (The Farewell, Mulan). AsAmNews had the opportunity to speak with Ma on this campaign as well as get his thoughts around the incident of racism Ma faced himself at a Pasadena Wholefoods Market recently. Ma tells us that this campaign is personal for him and he hopes that it can be a springboard to elevate the voices for Asian Americans. He also stated that what is currently happening is just a symptom of the bigger issue around racial dynamics in America.
“I am not surprised as to what is happening. We are a country which is good at scapegoating and finding someone to blame, and unfortunately, we Asians are always at the receiving end of this. This is not just happening now, but has been happening since the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882.”
Ma, also shared with us on how he felt after being racially discriminated at the Pasadena Wholefoods Market:
“Well, I don’t feel good about it. It literally violated me as a person and your world is turned upside down. I reacted to the incident after I recovered from it and I literally screamed and yelled at the guy who did this to me, but by the time I did, he was long gone. However, I will run into him again and see him again. I remember him and if he frequents that store like I do, he will see his day and justice will be served. “
Finally, touching on the comments President Trump made that COVID-19 Cornavirus should be called the “Chinese virus” because that is where it originated from. Obviously, these words are unacceptable and no matter how people see Trump, his words go beyond borders and becomes an echo chamber. We spoke to actress Celia Au (Wu Assassins) about these comments. Like Ma, Au is proudly part of the #washthehate campaign and is passionate in using her platform for this campaign to ensure all voices are head. Au expressed that Trump’s words are not the words of a “true leader”:
“Our leaders are meant to lead and set a good example, so if they give the wrong message it is us Asians and any other communities of color who get the racial backlash.”
“I think the racism against Asians has been bubbling for awhile now in America, like we know there are people in this country who don’t like us Asians, but most people didn’t attack us racially because they know its wrong and that the good parts of society won’t accept it. But right now that has totally changed and for our leaders like Trump to call it out by name just gives permission for people to commit this racism.”
#washthehate campaign is one which is interactive with everyone being encouraged to hashtag their twenty second video of them washing their hands and talking about the pandemic and how we need to stop the racism. If you are not the type to put yourself out there in a video, it is encouraged that you share the videos to your network and engage with the IW Group in sharing with them any stories of racism and hate yourself, or someone else you know have experienced. Here is the website again for you to click on and explore.
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