The Suffolk County Human Rights Commission condemns the rise in racism and xenophobia against Asians and Asian/Pacific Americans in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. Commission members have reported a rise in racial discrimination, bigotry, and attacks aimed at these communities out of fear, ignorance, and misinformation about the virus.
There is no excuse for discrimination toward Asians and Asian/Pacific Americans. These issues are not isolated but rather are based on a history of stereotyping of Asian immigrants and refugees as perpetual foreigners, especially in relation to infectious diseases. The spread of this disease is not linked to race or national origin. Racial profiling, discrimination, and xenophobia are hostile and inappropriate responses to the coronavirus outbreak. Targeting people of Asian/Pacific descent creates fear and anger instead of raising awareness and knowledge about prevention and protection from infection.
The commission urges community members to stand against xenophobia and racism. Health and safety precautions are important. Providing workers of Asian and Asian/Pacific American backgrounds with a safe environment, without fear of harassment, is equally important. We encourage everyone to create policies that hold perpetrators accountable for their racist actions while keeping our county safe from bigotry.
Suffolk residents should report incidents to the commission at www.suffolkcountyny.gov/Departments/Human-Rights-Commission or to the Suffolk County Police Hate Crimes Unit. In Nassau, residents can contact the county’s human rights commission or police hate crimes unit.
Our role is to mitigate incidences of racial profiling or discrimination.
Editor’s note: The writer chairs the Suffolk County Human Rights Commission.