The coronavirus pandemic has brought with it outbreaks of racial harassment, abuse, and physical violence against Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities across the United States—a spike that President Joe Biden has vocally condemned since his earliest days in office. But community leaders, fearful that the “fast and furious” increase in incidents could continue long after the pandemic has retreated, say that a change in rhetoric from the Oval Office is just a first step to addressing the root causes of anti-Asian hostility.
“Asian Americans have felt so invisible when it comes to these issues, that it’s not acknowledged,” said Cynthia Choi, co-executive director of Chinese for Affirmative Action, a longtime civil rights organization based in San Francisco. “I’ve heard from so many community members and leaders say what a world of difference it makes, to have the president of the United States actually acknowledge and to see us.”
“It does matter and I think it is important—of course, following that up with real action.”