News

Supervisors denounce xenophobia as Asian American groups report more harassment

Organizations have reported more than 650 incidents targeting Asian Americans in one week in late March

Responding to a reported increase in violence and harassment aimed at Asian American residents during the COVID-19 pandemic, Santa Clara County on Tuesday passed a resolution denouncing xenophobia and pledging to work with police agencies to curb hate crimes.

The unanimous vote came at the urging of board President Cindy Chavez, who called the resolution "an opportunity for us to show solidarity with our Asian American community partners during COVID-19, when we've seen hate rise against the API (Asian Pacific Islander) community."

Russell Jeung, chairman and professor of Asian American Studies at San Francisco State University, was among those urging the board to pass the resolution. Jeung launched on March 19 an online reporting center that monitors anti-Asian coronavirus discrimination. In the first two weeks, he wrote to the board, his group has received 21 incidents from San Jose alone, ranging from verbal harassment to physical assault.

"We've found that political rhetoric can incite hatred and violence," wrote Jeung, who was joined in the effort by the nonprofit Chinese for Affirmative Action and Asian Pacific Planning and Policy Council. "This resolution is needed to curtail the inflammatory language used by politicians and media, and to encourage the residents of Santa Clara County to resist hatred and bigotry."

The resolution alludes to – and formally distances the county from – the recent description of COVID-19 by President Donald Trump and members of his administration as a "Chinese virus." The term has been denounced by Asian American groups for provoking racism and retaliation against Asian Americans, Chavez wrote in her memo.

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Chavez noted that in the first week after the reporting center was launched, there had been more than 650 incidents of verbal harassment, shunning and physical assault aimed at Asian American residents. She called the trend "disheartening."

"The behavior reported and the volume of incoming hate reports is really unacceptable," Chavez said at Tuesday's meeting.

Supervisor Joe Simitian said the conversation about xenophobia is particularly disheartening because "millions of people around the Bay Area, around the state and around the country have stepped up in such extraordinary ways during a very difficult time and have really let their best selves step forward."

"The contrast between that kind of behavior and the behavior that we are calling out here is particularly stark and striking," Simitian said. "You'd like to think that we wouldn't even need to say this, but the reports indicate pretty clearly that we do."

Eddie Chan, president and CEO of North East Medical Services, a nonprofit that operates 12 health clinics throughout the Bay Area, reported to the board that patients and staff at the clinics have "not been immune to the rise in racial discrimination and harassment against Asian Americans."

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The use of the terms "Chinese virus" or "Wuhan virus," Chan wrote, has "caused some patients and staff to feel attacked or disempowered, and many patients have shared experiences with staff where they feel targeted, disenfranchised, and anxious."

"For instance, one patient experienced a man yelling at him to 'go back to China and take the virus back with you,' and 'it's all your fault.' We have seen first-hand how elderly, immigrant community members are targeted for this type of violence, and it has no place in our community," Chan wrote.

Numerous civic organizations, including Asian Americans for Community Involvement (AACI) and the San Jose chapter of the Japanese American Citizens League, applauded the resolution. Marsha Fong, board chairwoman at AACI, wrote in a letter that her organization is "appalled by the anti-Asian rhetoric and scapegoating of immigrant groups as a result of this crisis."

"Hate crimes and attacks against the very communities AACI fights to serve and protect are attacks against us all and must be publicly denounced," Fong wrote.

Dolores Alvarado, CEO of Community Health Partnership, also submitted a letter endorsing the county's resolution. Racist rhetoric from the highest level of government "has put a target on the backs of anyone appearing to be Asian," she wrote.

"Verbal and physical violence against Asians has created an environment of danger and fear among a community that represents nearly 38% of this county's population," Alvarado wrote to the board. "Additionally, a large percentage of our county's health care providers and frontline responders to the COVID pandemic are Asian and creating an unsafe atmosphere among our health care heroes, of all ethnicities, is simply dangerous and unacceptable."

In distress over COVID-19? There is help.

Anyone who is experiencing depression or heightened anxiety because of the public health crisis can find help through local resources:

In Santa Clara County:

• 24/7 Behavioral Health Services Department Call Center: 800-704-0900.

• Crisis Text Line: Text RENEW to 741741.

• 24/7 Suicide and Crisis Hotline: 855-278-4204.

• If you are experiencing an emergency, call 911 immediately.

In San Mateo County:

• Behavioral Health Services & Resources - 24/7

• Access Call Center - Toll-free number: 800-686-0101 | For the hearing impaired: 800-943-2833.

• If you are experiencing an emergency, call 911 immediately.

For seniors, people with disabilities: The Institute on Aging has a Friendship Line for people ages 60 and older and adults with disabilities who feel isolated: 800-971-0016.

For youth: A list of local resources for young people who need mental health support, as well as their family and friends, can be found here.

Find comprehensive coverage on the Midpeninsula's response to the new coronavirus by Palo Alto Online, the Mountain View Voice and the Almanac here.

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Supervisors denounce xenophobia as Asian American groups report more harassment

Organizations have reported more than 650 incidents targeting Asian Americans in one week in late March

by / Palo Alto Weekly

Uploaded: Tue, Apr 7, 2020, 6:55 pm

Responding to a reported increase in violence and harassment aimed at Asian American residents during the COVID-19 pandemic, Santa Clara County on Tuesday passed a resolution denouncing xenophobia and pledging to work with police agencies to curb hate crimes.

The unanimous vote came at the urging of board President Cindy Chavez, who called the resolution "an opportunity for us to show solidarity with our Asian American community partners during COVID-19, when we've seen hate rise against the API (Asian Pacific Islander) community."

Russell Jeung, chairman and professor of Asian American Studies at San Francisco State University, was among those urging the board to pass the resolution. Jeung launched on March 19 an online reporting center that monitors anti-Asian coronavirus discrimination. In the first two weeks, he wrote to the board, his group has received 21 incidents from San Jose alone, ranging from verbal harassment to physical assault.

"We've found that political rhetoric can incite hatred and violence," wrote Jeung, who was joined in the effort by the nonprofit Chinese for Affirmative Action and Asian Pacific Planning and Policy Council. "This resolution is needed to curtail the inflammatory language used by politicians and media, and to encourage the residents of Santa Clara County to resist hatred and bigotry."

The resolution alludes to – and formally distances the county from – the recent description of COVID-19 by President Donald Trump and members of his administration as a "Chinese virus." The term has been denounced by Asian American groups for provoking racism and retaliation against Asian Americans, Chavez wrote in her memo.

Chavez noted that in the first week after the reporting center was launched, there had been more than 650 incidents of verbal harassment, shunning and physical assault aimed at Asian American residents. She called the trend "disheartening."

"The behavior reported and the volume of incoming hate reports is really unacceptable," Chavez said at Tuesday's meeting.

Supervisor Joe Simitian said the conversation about xenophobia is particularly disheartening because "millions of people around the Bay Area, around the state and around the country have stepped up in such extraordinary ways during a very difficult time and have really let their best selves step forward."

"The contrast between that kind of behavior and the behavior that we are calling out here is particularly stark and striking," Simitian said. "You'd like to think that we wouldn't even need to say this, but the reports indicate pretty clearly that we do."

Eddie Chan, president and CEO of North East Medical Services, a nonprofit that operates 12 health clinics throughout the Bay Area, reported to the board that patients and staff at the clinics have "not been immune to the rise in racial discrimination and harassment against Asian Americans."

The use of the terms "Chinese virus" or "Wuhan virus," Chan wrote, has "caused some patients and staff to feel attacked or disempowered, and many patients have shared experiences with staff where they feel targeted, disenfranchised, and anxious."

"For instance, one patient experienced a man yelling at him to 'go back to China and take the virus back with you,' and 'it's all your fault.' We have seen first-hand how elderly, immigrant community members are targeted for this type of violence, and it has no place in our community," Chan wrote.

Numerous civic organizations, including Asian Americans for Community Involvement (AACI) and the San Jose chapter of the Japanese American Citizens League, applauded the resolution. Marsha Fong, board chairwoman at AACI, wrote in a letter that her organization is "appalled by the anti-Asian rhetoric and scapegoating of immigrant groups as a result of this crisis."

"Hate crimes and attacks against the very communities AACI fights to serve and protect are attacks against us all and must be publicly denounced," Fong wrote.

Dolores Alvarado, CEO of Community Health Partnership, also submitted a letter endorsing the county's resolution. Racist rhetoric from the highest level of government "has put a target on the backs of anyone appearing to be Asian," she wrote.

"Verbal and physical violence against Asians has created an environment of danger and fear among a community that represents nearly 38% of this county's population," Alvarado wrote to the board. "Additionally, a large percentage of our county's health care providers and frontline responders to the COVID pandemic are Asian and creating an unsafe atmosphere among our health care heroes, of all ethnicities, is simply dangerous and unacceptable."

In distress over COVID-19? There is help.

Anyone who is experiencing depression or heightened anxiety because of the public health crisis can find help through local resources:

In Santa Clara County:

• 24/7 Behavioral Health Services Department Call Center: 800-704-0900.

• Crisis Text Line: Text RENEW to 741741.

• 24/7 Suicide and Crisis Hotline: 855-278-4204.

• If you are experiencing an emergency, call 911 immediately.

In San Mateo County:

• Behavioral Health Services & Resources - 24/7

• Access Call Center - Toll-free number: 800-686-0101 | For the hearing impaired: 800-943-2833.

• If you are experiencing an emergency, call 911 immediately.

For seniors, people with disabilities: The Institute on Aging has a Friendship Line for people ages 60 and older and adults with disabilities who feel isolated: 800-971-0016.

For youth: A list of local resources for young people who need mental health support, as well as their family and friends, can be found here.

Find comprehensive coverage on the Midpeninsula's response to the new coronavirus by Palo Alto Online, the Mountain View Voice and the Almanac here.

Comments

Stupid Question
Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 8, 2020 at 9:00 am
Stupid Question, Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 8, 2020 at 9:00 am
32 people like this

Can a virus have a nationality?

The virus is certainly not Chinese since viruses don't recognize nationality or politics. That said, it appears to be agreed upon that this particular virus did originate in Communist China. Seems best to strike a balance and make that distinction.


resident
Downtown North
on Apr 8, 2020 at 10:03 am
resident, Downtown North
on Apr 8, 2020 at 10:03 am
38 people like this

Repeatedly calling COVID-19 the "China Virus" or "Wuhan Virus" is a white nationalist ploy to denigrate Asian-Americans and Asians in general. Keeping minority groups "in their place" is the fundamental goal of white nationalism.


Resident
Palo Alto High School
on Apr 8, 2020 at 11:05 am
Resident, Palo Alto High School
on Apr 8, 2020 at 11:05 am
42 people like this

I don't think this has anything to do with white nationalism.
In early to mid January, as people began arriving sick to Hong Kong from Wuhan, the citizens of Hong Kong called the sickness Wuhan Flu.
It was called Wuhan Flu in Singapore and Malaysia as well.
It was just easier to say.
The people who began calling it the Wuhan Flu are many of Chinese descent.
Please don't use this as an excuse for any tensions.




mauricio
Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Apr 8, 2020 at 11:19 am
mauricio, Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Apr 8, 2020 at 11:19 am
28 people like this

When xenophobia is being preached on a daily basis from the White House, what can you expect from the dunce cultists?

We screwed nature for about a 100 years, and disrupted the very fragile balance between theeco system , nature and humans, and now nature is having its revenge. Unfortunately, this catastrophe is probably only the beginning once humans, especially withe the rise to power of science denying right wing governments are hell bent of accelerating the destruction of the environment..


resident
Downtown North
on Apr 8, 2020 at 11:20 am
resident, Downtown North
on Apr 8, 2020 at 11:20 am
73 people like this

The disease has an officially recognized and widely used name (COVID-19, which is short for coronavirus disease 2019). Intentionally not using the correct name is a sure sign of an ulterior motive. We've all seen the photos of speeches with COVID-19 crossed out and replaced by racist names.


Anon
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 8, 2020 at 11:22 am
Anon, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 8, 2020 at 11:22 am
54 people like this

Posted by Resident, a resident of Palo Alto High School

>> I don't think this has anything to do with white nationalism.

Of course it does:

"Chavez noted that in the first week after the reporting center was launched, there had been more than 650 incidents of verbal harassment, shunning and physical assault aimed at Asian American residents."

The question is, does it have anything to do with coronavirus. Which is, after all, a virus.


resident
Downtown North
on Apr 8, 2020 at 11:30 am
resident, Downtown North
on Apr 8, 2020 at 11:30 am
74 people like this

The World Health Organization has a message for sketchy politicians that are using COVID-19 as an excuse for their questionable politics.

"If you want to be exploited and if you want to have many more bodybags, then you politicize the virus," the WHO leader said. "If you don't want many more body bags, then you refrain from politicizing it." From NPR News: Web Link


Resident
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 8, 2020 at 11:36 am
Resident, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 8, 2020 at 11:36 am
11 people like this

[Portion removed.]

From reports gathered worldwide, it is smokers, men, those with asthma, those with underlying health issues, drug users and men who are dying. It is quite possible that men are more likely to be smokers, drug users, have heart issues, lung issues, and are overweight, which makes them much more likely to be susceptible. Trying to make this a racial issue is not helpful. More problems will arise from making this non-issue publicly discussed. The media are playing games. They are the ones making an issue where non was before.

Time to start paying less attention to the media and getting on with working out how to live our lives healthily while following the rules than getting upset at non-issues.


Born in PA
Midtown
on Apr 8, 2020 at 12:13 pm
Born in PA, Midtown
on Apr 8, 2020 at 12:13 pm
5 people like this

All names are artificial. What we choose and justify always speaks volumes of what we think.


Thinkpol
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 8, 2020 at 12:52 pm
Thinkpol, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 8, 2020 at 12:52 pm
Like this comment

[Post removed.]


2nd republican great depression
Downtown North
on Apr 8, 2020 at 12:54 pm
2nd republican great depression, Downtown North
on Apr 8, 2020 at 12:54 pm
22 people like this

[Post removed.]


midtown resident
Midtown
on Apr 8, 2020 at 12:57 pm
midtown resident, Midtown
on Apr 8, 2020 at 12:57 pm
35 people like this

For those wanting to continue using the term "Chinese Virus," the only fair thing for you to do is rename the deadliest flu epidemic, The Spanish Flu, the US or "American Flu" because by most accounts, we unleashed on the world from Kansas... and Spain hasn't even put up a fuss. Imagine that.


Mort
Greenmeadow
on Apr 8, 2020 at 12:59 pm
Mort, Greenmeadow
on Apr 8, 2020 at 12:59 pm
Like this comment

[Post removed.]


Old Palo Alto Resident
Old Palo Alto
on Apr 8, 2020 at 2:08 pm
Old Palo Alto Resident, Old Palo Alto
on Apr 8, 2020 at 2:08 pm
22 people like this

Yes, I agree with the midtown resident's suggestion that just to be fair for those people who insists on call COVID-19 to be Chinese or Wuhan Flu, the Spanish Flu should be renamed to US or American Flu as shown in Web Link for possible origin. In fact, we should also call the 2009 H1N1 Swine Flu to be American Flu as well as stated in the following CDC report that "The 2009 H1N1 influenza virus (referred to as “swine flu” early on) was first detected in people in the United States in April 2009. " Web Link


Chinese Born in the Bay Area
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 8, 2020 at 2:31 pm
Chinese Born in the Bay Area, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 8, 2020 at 2:31 pm
23 people like this

We look different. Our culture accelerates due to the insane work ethic. Of course, there is resentment, we are the competition. Americans subconsciously prefer being amongst themselves no matter how open-minded they think they are. Do they want us in their top fraternities and sororities? Only if the person is a token, they won't take more than 1 or 2. Do they invite us over for dinner? Even the far left prefer to stick amongst themselves. The whole Democrat, we-embrace-all-cultures thing is a sham. Sure, they are cordial to us, but do they really want to be our friends? Other countries embrace Chinese and other cultures, they don't judge based upon appearance.

Surely, there will be dissenters but remember that we are in the one area of the nation that is least racist towards Chinese so there are more accepting people here.

When I grew up here in the 1970s, I didn't feel racism at all since our parents assimilated and spoke English in public. There were no Chinese stereotypes yet. There is more racism now that the Chinese are not assimilating and they keep to themselves at school events, speaking Mandarin, not learning English, and living their secretive culture traits. Oh, how I wish they would assimilate. Those who move to China are forced to assimilate and learn the language.


2nd republican great depression
Downtown North
on Apr 8, 2020 at 3:04 pm
2nd republican great depression, Downtown North
on Apr 8, 2020 at 3:04 pm
33 people like this

[Post removed.]


Resident
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 8, 2020 at 3:38 pm
Resident, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 8, 2020 at 3:38 pm
Like this comment

Not sure why the part about demographic data should have been deleted from my post. I definitely didn't mention any particular demographic.

I really don't think demographics matter. Every group is affected, but some with various health or lifestyle issues are not surviving the virus as well as others.


Marilyn Wong
Menlo Park
on Apr 8, 2020 at 10:45 pm
Marilyn Wong, Menlo Park
on Apr 8, 2020 at 10:45 pm
10 people like this

I am English, Irish, Scottish, Dutch, and Welsh. I married a Chinese. My daughter, fifth generation american, who lives in Santa Rosa, and very pregnant at the time, looks Chinese, was pointed at and talked about several times. Yes, let's just call it Covid-19. Some people are very "small minded" and ridiculous! Fortunatly, not here in Menlo Park. I learned so much about this amazing culture! I can speak it a little bit. I turn 80 very soon and guess what I plan to have delivered, yes, CHINESE FOOD! Everyone stay healthy!!!!!!!!!


resident
Downtown North
on Apr 10, 2020 at 11:19 am
resident, Downtown North
on Apr 10, 2020 at 11:19 am
12 people like this

NBC News has a good article on the "China Virus" aftermath: "Smashed windows and racist graffiti: Vandals target Asian Americans amid coronavirus" Web Link


Simple Case of Semantics
Stanford
on Apr 13, 2020 at 9:42 am
Simple Case of Semantics, Stanford
on Apr 13, 2020 at 9:42 am
2 people like this

[Post removed.]


new guy
Menlo Park
on Apr 13, 2020 at 9:57 am
new guy, Menlo Park
on Apr 13, 2020 at 9:57 am
Like this comment

[Post removed.]


Simple Case of Semantics
Stanford
on Apr 14, 2020 at 9:02 am
Simple Case of Semantics, Stanford
on Apr 14, 2020 at 9:02 am
Like this comment

[Post removed.]


Simple Case of Semantics
Stanford
on Apr 14, 2020 at 1:40 pm
Simple Case of Semantics, Stanford
on Apr 14, 2020 at 1:40 pm
Like this comment

[Post removed.]





Anon
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 14, 2020 at 2:02 pm
Anon, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 14, 2020 at 2:02 pm
11 people like this

Posted by Simple Case of Semantics, a resident of Stanford

>> Part of this so-called COVID-19 related xenophobia is because many people are too ignorant (or blind) to be able to differentiate various Asian ethnicities.

I'm not following you. A virus is a (sub)microscopic DNA or RNA-based biological entity that replicates itself using the living cells of another organism. Whether the virus originated in Wuhan or, -Kansas- makes no difference regarding what needs to be done to interrupt the spread. Kansas? Haskell County, Kansas? Web Link.

I guess we could name the 1918-1918 pandemic the Kansas Flu or the Haskell County Flu, but, I'm not sure what the point of that would be?


The Donald Trump Virus
Barron Park
on Apr 15, 2020 at 10:57 am
The Donald Trump Virus, Barron Park
on Apr 15, 2020 at 10:57 am
5 people like this

[Post removed.]


China not Chinese
Mountain View
on Apr 15, 2020 at 12:07 pm
China not Chinese, Mountain View
on Apr 15, 2020 at 12:07 pm
3 people like this

[Post removed.]


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