Coronavirus Racism: Increase in COVID-19 related discrimination prompts calls for change from government leaders

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Coronavirus-related discrimination toward the Chinese and Asian American communities is escalating at a rapid pace, not only in the Bay Area but around the world. But there are many efforts being made to make sure the message is clear: racism is a virus too.

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Video sent to ABC7 news anchor Dion Lim by a shopper at a Target in Daly City this week shows a racially charged interaction between shoppers and an Asian man who coughed.

Xenophobic incidents like this toward the Asian community are happening far too often in the wake of Covid-19. Mayor London Breed-addressing the rash of discrimination in a press conference Thursday.

"We want to make it clear this is not accepted or tolerated here in San Francisco." Said Breed.

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On behalf of the Asian Pacific Islander Legislative Caucus, Assemblymember David Chiu worked with civil rights groups and sent this letter to Governor Newsom this week asking him to denounce racist behavior as well.

"It doesn't help when we have a president who has been talking the anti-Chinese Sentiment by referencing the so-called Chinese Virus." Says Chiu via FaceTime who also described his upbringing, experiencing racism on the East Coast.

San Francisco State University's Asian American Studies Department's latest study shows in a 4 week period a 50% increase of Coronavirus discrimination news to 140-stories by week 4. These are just the stories in the news. To better track these incidents as a whole the department launched an online reporting center Thursday. Data will be used in weekly reports and provided to government officials and community organizations.

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"What we hope is we can then get funding to do social media campaigns and to do school curriculum and put out transit ads to tell people this type of prejudice and bigotry isn't allowed or tolerated in California." Says Dr. Russell Jeung, chair and professor of Asian American Studies at SFSU.

All of this is with the hope we'll see fewer incidents such as the one at Target and more understanding. Assemblymember Chiu perhaps says it best.

"The enemy is COVID-19. Those of us who are of Chinese descent, we are not the virus."

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