The Long Beach City Council unanimously voted Tuesday night on a resolution to condemn xenophobic hate and harassment toward the Asian American and Pacific Islander communities, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Hate crimes and acts of racial discrimination against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have increased globally and throughout Los Angeles County, including how the coronavirus pandemic has been referred as the “Chinese virus” or “kung flu,” according to city legislation.
According to a Pew Research Center study, about 31% of Asian adults have experienced racial slurs or jokes “because of their race or ethnicity since the outbreak began,” emerging in China and later spreading in the United States.
Councilwoman Suely Saro introduced the anti-hate resolution item against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.
“Unfortunately many Asian Pacific Islander Americans around Los Angeles County and the nation have been unjustly blamed for causing the pandemic,” Saro said. “The city of Long Beach has approximately overfit 65,000 Asian Pacific Islanders, and the hate has increased and escalated where many are living in fear.”
Saro maintained that “Asian Pacific Islander Americans have been sacrificing their lives to make our country safe and serving on the front lines of this pandemic.”
In California, about 20% of nurses identify as Filipino, accounting for 11 of the 16 COVID-19 deaths in the profession, or nearly 70%. Filipino Americans make up about 12% of all health care workers and 11% of health care support jobs, according to Mercury News.
During public comment, several Long Beach residents voiced their support of the resolution, many of whom sharing their experiences with racial hatred.
Julia Huang, president and CEO of InterTrend Communications, mentioned how some of the company’s staff members of Asian descent “have been targeted with acts of racism solely on the basis of their appearance.”
“It is time that we not regard these incidents as random acts, but racially motivated,” Huang said. “The conversation to end racism must include Asian American Pacific Islanders, therefore, I urge the city of Long Beach to stand in solidarity and support our APA communities.”
Mariko Kahn, executive director of Pacific Asian Counseling Services, shared that the nonprofit provides a variety of mental health services to the Asian Pacific Islander immigrant population, especially the Cambodian population in Long Beach.
Kahn said that many of the organization’s older adult clients “are aware of the attacks and have expressed great fear of during their counseling sessions, especially about going out into public places.”
“Many clients do not go out unless it is absolutely necessary, and this has increased their sense of isolation and loneliness, causing great anxiety,” Kahn said. “Two of my staff reported to me that they felt better knowing that this motion was going to be presented tonight, it reassured them that these attacks are acknowledged as racist and hateful.”
Also in favor of the resolution were Mayor Robert Garcia and Councilwoman Cindy Allen, who voiced her support of the item and solidarity with the Asian Pacific Islander American community.
“Our support sends a clear strong message that Long Beach stands with the Asian and Pacific Islander community,” Allen said. “The xenophobic and racist behavior of any kind will not be tolerated, and this type of violence has to stop.”
Showing his support for the Asian American and Pacific Islander communities, Garcia discussed the impact they’ve had in Long Beach.
“Hate against the AAPI community is not acceptable, not just in our own city, but anywhere in our country or in the world, and it’s incredibly saddening.” Garcia said. “Of course, we all stand together on this issue, and anything that we can do to show our solidarity and support in the days and weeks ahead, we will do so.”
The Stop AAPI Hate campaign also offers resources such as reporting hate incidents or ways to become involved, to learn more visit https://stopaapihate.org. The Long Beach City Council will reconvene via teleconference next Tuesday, March 23 at 5 p.m.