Column: Biden combats xenophobia, racism toward AAPI people

Lindsey Ulrey

On Tuesday, the White House announced six new actions to respond to attacks and harassment towards the Asian-American and Pacific-Islander communities in the United States.

“Across our nation an outpouring of grief and outrage continues at the horrific violence and xenophobia perpetrated against Asian-American Communities, especially Asian-American women and girls,” the White House said in a statement.

“Today I am directing federal agencies to combat the resurgence of xenophobia particularly against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, that we have seen skyrocket during this pandemic. This is unacceptable and it is un-American,” Biden said in remarks at the White House.

“I have asked the Department of Justice to strengthen its partnership with the Asian-American Pacific-Islander Community to prevent those hate crimes. I have also asked the Department of Health and Human Services to put out best practices for combatting xenophobia in our national response to COVID-19.”

In March Asian Americans began to videotape and report hate crimes against them, and an advocacy group called STOP AAPI HATE started collecting reported incidents in an online database. Former President Donald Trump continuously made the problem worse by frequently referring to China using racist and xenophobic language and blaming China for America’s struggles with the pandemic.

The several executive actions signed by President Biden last week addressing systemic racism were welcomed as an important first step by civil rights advocacy groups.

“Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, thousands of Asian Americans have reported acts of hate and violence, and the vast majority live in a climate of fear,” the coalition STOP AAPI HATE said in a statement.

“What is most disturbing is that the rising hate was fueled by racist and xenophobic rhetoric used by the former president is in his administration’s implementation of a number of policies and efforts to target our communities.” It was also pointed out that the fact sheet for the new directives does not address the demand for more representation at the leadership level. Press secretary Jen Psaki said, “In the coming weeks the administration will meet with AAPI leaders to hear their input on how we can play the most constructive role possible in the community.”

“Racism is never far below the surface in America, which is all too evident as the AAPI community has experienced escalating attacks and targeted violence during the pandemic,” Senator Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, wrote on Twitter in response to the news.

“We must confront the systems that allowed this hatred to fester and spread—exactly what @POTUS is doing.”


Lindsey Ulrey is a freshman political science major. She can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]