U.S. House OKs measure condemning anti-Asian bigotry on largely party lines

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The U.S. House passed a measure Thursday condemning COVID-19-related anti-Asian bigotry and discrimination, with the Michigan delegation voting mostly on party lines.

The non-binding resolution passed on a 243-164 vote. The Democratic caucus was joined by 14 Republicans in supporting the measure.

“Since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, Asian Americans have been forced to endure demeaning and disgusting acts of bigotry and hate, consisting of everything from verbal assaults to physical attacks,” bill sponsor U.S. Rep. Grace Meng (D-N.Y.) said in a statement. “The House needed to take a strong and public stand against this appalling intolerance, discrimination, and violence that has taken place all across the country during this public health crisis, and today it did just that.”

The Michigan delegation was split 8-5, with U.S. Rep. Justin Amash (L-Cascade Twp.) voting present. U.S. Rep. Fred Upton (R-St. Joseph) crossed over and voted yes with Democrats.

Michigan leaders alarmed about racism toward Asian Americans amid COVID-19 crisis

U.S. Reps. Debbie Dingell (D-Dearborn), Haley Stevens (D-Rochester Hills), Rashida Tlaib (D-Detroit) and Brenda Lawrence (D-Southfield) are co-sponsors of the measure. 

The measure comes as a 2020 Asian American Voter Survey released Tuesday found that 51% of Asian Americans were concerned about experiencing hate crimes, harassment, and discrimination because of COVID-19, and a combined 79% said there was a lot or some discrimination against Asian people in society.

The survey included a national sample of 1,569 Asian-American registered voters and was conducted from July 4 to Sept. 10. It broke out Chinese, Indian, Korean, Vietnamese, Japanese and Filipino voters and was offered in English, Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese. 

In the poll, a majority of Asian Americans (54%) said they planned to vote for former Vice President Joe Biden, the Democratic Party nominee, compared to just 30% who planned to support Republican incumbent Donald Trump. 

COVID-19 has made immigrants fear seeking care, while Asian Americans feel Trump made them ‘targets’

Trump has been criticized as racist for referring to the coronavirus as “Kung Flu” and “China virus.”  

“The rise in anti-Asian rhetoric and the blaming of Asian Americans for the spread of the coronavirus has been shameful and reckless, particularly when it comes from our nation’s leaders such as President Trump, Minority Leader [Kevin] McCarthy (R-Calif.) and many others who have used terms like ‘Chinese virus,’ ‘Wuhan virus’ and ‘Kung-flu,’ to stoke people’s fears of COVID-19, scapegoat Asian Americans, and fan the flames of hate,” Meng said. “But these are more than just hateful and irresponsible words. This language has fueled the increase of threats and attacks against those of Asian descent, and many Asian Americans continue to live in fear.”

In March, a group of Michigan elected officials and community leaders pushed back against what they saw as growing anti-Asian-American sentiment amid the coronavirus pandemic.

During that news conference, Attorney General Dana Nessel, state Sen. Stephanie Chang (D-Detroit) and state Rep. Padma Kuppa (D-Troy) were joined by Richard Mui of Asian and Pacific Islander Vote Michigan and Roland Hwang of the Association of Chinese Americans.

More than 114,000 COVID-19 cases and 6,600 deaths have been reported statewide.

Ken Coleman
Ken Coleman covers Southeast Michigan, economic justice and civil rights. He is a former Michigan Chronicle senior editor and served as the American Black Journal segment host on Detroit Public Television. He has written and published four books on black life in Detroit, including Soul on Air: Blacks Who Helped to Define Radio in Detroit and Forever Young: A Coleman Reader. His work has been cited by the Detroit News, Detroit Free Press, History Channel and CNN. Additionally, he was an essayist for the award-winning book, Detroit 1967: Origins, Impacts, Legacies. Ken has served as a spokesperson for the Michigan Democratic Party, Detroit Public Schools, U.S. Sen. Gary Peters and U.S. Rep. Brenda Lawrence. Previously to joining the Advance, he worked for the Detroit Federation of Teachers as a communications specialist. He is a Historical Society of Michigan trustee and a Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metropolitan Detroit advisory board member.