“A Significant First Step”: PHI Statement on COVID-19 Hate Crimes Bill
Statement from Mary A. Pittman, DrPH, CEO and President, Public Health Institute
“The COVID-19 Hate Crimes Bill, passed by Congress and signed by President Biden today, to address anti-Asian hate crimes and violence in United States communities, is a critical step towards recognizing the impact of historical and current anti-Asian racism and discrimination on health, well-being and justice.
“The COVID-19 Hate Crimes Bill expedites the review of hate crimes related to COVID-19, expands efforts to make the reporting of hate crimes more accessible at the local and state levels, and provides online reporting resources that are available in multiple languages.
“More than 6,600 hate crimes were documented U.S. hate crimes against Asian immigrants and Asian-Americans between March 2020 and March 2021, or a rise of about 169% comparing the first quarter of 2021 to the first of 2020. The specific choices of the previous president and his administration to use deliberately racist and anti-Asian rhetoric in relationship to the COVID pandemic certainly inflamed and encouraged targeted violence toward our Asian-American community.
“The COVID pandemic may have amplified anti-Asian hate but it did not create it. From the Chinese Exclusion Act to Japanese internment camps, the United States has a deep history of racist policy and practice that has served to deny Asian Americans equal rights and opportunities. The ‘model minority’ stereotype that persists today serves to erase and ignore significant economic and educational barriers that persist in many Asian cultures, geographical communities and ethnic groups—along with the responsibility to address those barriers.
“This is a significant first step in addressing the current impacts of anti-Asian hate in our communities. We support more federal efforts that bring down barriers to health and justice for Asian-Americans, and will continue to advocate for change.”