On June 23, 2020, at a Phoenix megachurch youth rally, President Donald Trump racistly referred to COVID-19, which emerged in China last year, as "Kung Flu." The young crowd roared their approval. This is the example our President is setting for young people.
This is just the latest in a series of heightened discriminatory and racist actions our Asian American Pacific Islander community members have faced since the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis.
As an Asian-American worker, I have a message for Asian workers everywhere—whether we’re out in public and potentially already experiencing anti-Asian discrimination (like I have) or quarantining at home and seeing the messages broadcast by those in power—know that as working people, we will not be divided.
I'm relatively new to the labor movement, but there’s a tried-and-true saying in the movement I've quickly come to love: when we stick together, we win together. And the battle we’re ALL fighting here, regardless of our ethnic background, is none other than racism.
There's another saying of solidarity I love: An injustice to one is an injustice to all. In the end, we protect each other. When people join together to form a union, we’re really coming together to take care of each other so we get what we need to do our jobs well.
So when anesthetic tech and SEIU Healthcare Minnesota Member Tenzin Choephel is fighting for his patients on the front lines of COVID-19, we will stand up for him by ensuring our elected officials publicly denounce the rising violence against Asian Americans.
When San Jose home care provider and SEIU Local 2015 Member Tina Nguyên is out buying more cleaning supplies for her caregiving job, we will stand up for her from worrying about racism so she only has to think about preventing herself from COVID exposure.
We will insist elected leaders use their platforms to condemn anti-Asian racist and hateful language. We will insist they speak out against violent xenophobic attacks and discriminatory acts.
Because blaming and scapegoating only bring about hurt. They don’t allow us to work together to solve shared problems. As we know from this pandemic, our lives are interdependent, we're literally only as strong and healthy as our most vulnerable communities.
With cooperation, we can save lives. We always do better together.