At a time when anti-Asian discrimination has been heightened due to COVID-19, more groups are stepping into the spotlight to vocalize their support for the community. The coronavirus, which originated in Wuhan, China, in 2019, has infected hundreds of thousands of people worldwide. Since then, Chinese Americans—as well as other Asian American groups—have been viewed by many as carriers of the virus, leading to panic and racist incidents targeting the Asian American community, near-empty streets in Chinatowns, and more.
On Tuesday, the Hispanic National Bar Association (HNBA) published a statement offering public support to the Asian American community and condemning any biases they experience related to the coronavirus.
“Reports of anti-Asian hate and violence in the U.S. should disturb and concern all of us,” the statement read. “Our Constitution calls for equal protection under the law for every American, regardless of race, ethnicity, or background. We call on the Department of Justice and other law enforcement agencies to assure the American public that any crimes that violate state or federal hate crime statutes will be appropriately investigated and prosecuted.”
The letter ends by calling on federal agencies to publicly request an end to the use of terms like “Chinese virus” or “Wuhan virus.”
“Like our sister organization NAPABA (National Asian Pacific American Bar Association), HNBA shares a mission of legal and social justice for all communities of color,” said HNBA president Irene Oria in a written statement to Prism. “We recognize that an attack on any one of our communities is really an attack on all communities of color. During this unprecedented time of uncertainty, our organization must stand against any and all demonstrations of hate and injustice that would seek to divide us as a nation.”
HNBA joins the short list of communities offering public solidarity with Asian Americans and mobilizing to stop the spread of violence and racism amid the coronavirus outbreak. HNBA’s statement comes a little more than a month after the Jewish community wrote an open letter to the broader Asian community offering public support and condemning anti-Asian bigotry. That letter was signed by dozens of Jewish organizations and was published in both English and Chinese. In response to that letter, United Chinese Americans penned a letter of gratitude and vowed to continue working together in the future.
Prism was the first to notify Haipei Shue, the president of United Chinese Americans, of HNBA’s statement. He was thrilled to hear the news.
“I’m really encouraged in these dark moments that our Hispanic brothers and sisters would extend a hand to us,” Shue said. “This is one of those rare moments where we need to come together and overcome.”
Shue said he plans to reach out to HNBA directly to thank them for their support.