The respiratory virus that's ballooned into a global pandemic and brought daily life in the United States to a halt has carried another chilling side effect with it.
Because the virus originated in Wuhan, China, anti-Chinese hysteria has sprouted up across the country. These racist flames have only been stoked by President Donald Trump, whose insistence on calling it "Chinese virus" corresponded with an uptick in hate crimes and harassment of Asian Americans across the across the United States, regardless of their country of origin or ancestry.
In a Washington Post column published on Wednesday, former Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang, who is Taiwanese American, spoke on the incidents of racism faced by Asian Americans that were egged on by some figures in the Republican party. But many feel it missed the mark.
In the piece, titled We Asian Americans Are Not the Virus, but We Can Be Part of the Cure, Yang confesses that the racism in response to the virus made him feel self-conscious about being Asian American for the first time in years.
After citing the evidence that anti-Asian American sentiment is up across the country, he issues a challenge for Asian Americans:
"We Asian Americans need to embrace and show our American-ness in ways we never have before. We need to step up, help our neighbors, donate gear, vote, wear red white and blue, volunteer, fund aid organizations, and do everything in our power to accelerate the end of this crisis. We should show without a shadow of a doubt that we are Americans who will do our part for our country in this time of need."
The piece encourages Asian Americans to change their behavior in order to remind racists that they are, indeed, American, instead of putting the onus on racists to educate themselves, examine their biases, and change their behavior.
People widely agreed that it's not the responsibility of Asian American individuals to edit themselves in order to escape prejudice.
This is not it, Andrew. It shouldn’t be on Asians to prove we’re American by sacrifice. That hasn’t protected us b… https://t.co/0saK4M0ZuE— Jeff Yang (@Jeff Yang) 1585846134.0
As Asian Americans, it’s not our job to prove our Americanness. This rhetoric is extremely dangerous and takes me b… https://t.co/S1ovl5JRl7— Taylor Weik (@Taylor Weik) 1585852312.0
Disagree @AndrewYang. I don't need to prove I'm American to anybody. We instead need to hold political leaders acco… https://t.co/gQmKYKgRNK— Andy Kang (@Andy Kang) 1585858172.0
I don’t know who needs to hear this today, but this is an awful take. My fellow Asians - you do not need to do th… https://t.co/H2jRDw3kj0— Celeste P. says flatten the curve (@Celeste P. says flatten the curve) 1585879132.0
This is SO problematic and infuriating. Combating racism shouldn't be on Asian-Americans showing "our American-ness… https://t.co/f58L03fsc9— JuJu Kim (@JuJu Kim) 1585921680.0
Many knew from experience that Yang's approach—in addition to its misplaced burden of responsibility—doesn't work.
I grew up being bullied because I was Asian, and it didn't matter how "American" I was. This anti-Asian wave is no… https://t.co/osHSM5aDoa— Sej Chung (@Sej Chung) 1585881852.0
Growing up in a middle-of-nowhere American town, I was called names. Even praise was racist: I was dubbed the “Orie… https://t.co/cyuRsUzqZl— Jeff Yau (@Jeff Yau) 1585890616.0
https://t.co/ciM83iiStZ i'm 5th gen japanese. my ancestors were in the 442nd regiment, the most decorated unit in… https://t.co/xMjAl2ux5S— 《 M E I S H I 》 (@《 M E I S H I 》) 1585871421.0
After 9/11, my dad bought an American flag to hang outside our house. It didn't stop a kid from barring me from m… https://t.co/JSX7kjEMqB— Ruth Tam (@Ruth Tam) 1585852762.0
Yang's presidential campaign was more successful than anyone predicted, and his already successful career will likely only become more storied as the years go on, but this piece struck a sour note.
For more information on Andrew Yang, his book—The War on Normal People—is available here.