Assembly Member Yuh-Line Niou says we are facing two pandemics. The first is the coronavirus, and the other is xenophobia.
After President Trump labeled it the “Chinese virus,” many Chinese-Americans were terrified of what would come next. They were right. Since the outbreak began, there have been reports of Asian Americans being verbally abused, physically attacked and spat upon.
Assembly member Yuh-Line Niou, a Taiwanese-American, is a Democratic Party member of the New York State Assembly. She represents the 65th district which covers Chinatown, Battery Park City, Lower East Side and the Financial District.
Over the weekend she gave an impassioned speech on the NY state budget saying, "Before we as a State knew what the scale of this crisis would be what we suffered from was not the disease, but the xenophobia and racism against Asian Americans that started to spread around the world. Many small businesses started to see less and less foot traffic months before there was a single case in the United States...After the actual COVID-19 virus started to spread, the other epidemic of xenophobia was fueled further by the racist fear-mongering of our President and his allies as they sought to shift blame after failing to do their job to keep our nation safe. In my district, we are months ahead in the economic devastation of this disease... Since January, my district has been acutely aware of just how much this pandemic has changed and will change our city and state. This pandemic has put a harsh spotlight on a reality in which not enough has changed to meet the needs of today, a reality which existed long before this moment and which will continue into the future, made worse by the budget we are being presented today."
The NY State budget passed on April 3rd.
She also wrote to her community today about the increasing rise in xenophobia:
I know that the past few weeks have been hard. I hope that you're safe and doing well, and that you've been staying home as much as possible to protect yourself from COVID-19.
As we've seen, we're currently facing two pandemics. The first is the coronavirus, and the other is xenophobia. While the President and members of his administration call COVID-19 the "Chinese virus", Asian Americans have faced a rise in discrimination and xenophobic attacks. It's been seen across the country, and I've experienced it firsthand here in our district. I know some community members who are too afraid to step outside, even for essentials, because of fear they'll become a target of another attack. This is about people's lives and safety. These are American families, and they need our support.
Even the CDC has noted the rise of anti-Asian racism, and changed its tip sheet to explicitly state: "People of Asian descent, including Chinese Americans, are not more likely to get COVID-19 than any other American."
Even the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has weighed in on the rise of anti-Asian racism on its tip sheet: "People of Asian descent, including Chinese Americans, are not more likely to get COVID-19 than any other American. Help stop fear by letting people know that being of Asian descent does not increase the chance of getting or spreading COVID-19."
Viruses don't carry a passport. They have no nationality. I'm fighting back against these xenophobic attacks. Please, help me stop the spread of fear and hatred, and be an ally. Together, we can and will recover from both of these pandemics.
Assembly member Niou, has said she has witnessed the virus' toll on her own community and will fight it. She has said on "Represent NYC" that Trump is "fueling the flames of racism" and she thinks Trump's comments make it so that citizens feel "justified" in their racism, playing off their already-heightened anxiety.
"When people already fear something, they now have something to blame for it," she said.
Her office is available and ready to hear from you.