Ohioans Urge Public Officials to Break Their Silence on COVID-19 Racism

Ohioans Urge Public Officials to Break Their Silence on COVID-19 Racism

1,350+ Ohio Organizations, Individuals, and Elected Officials Call on Ohio Leaders to Speak Out Against Rise in Anti-Chinese and Anti-Asian Racism

To the Editor:

(Plain Press, April 2020)   A diverse coalition of 149 Ohio organizations and over 1,200 individual Ohioans, including 20 elected officials, signed on to a public letter urging Ohio public officials to take a stand against the increase in racist attacks and discrimination towards Chinese and Asian/Asian American/Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities. The letter was sent to Governor DeWine, state legislators, local city council members, and other public officials.

   This is the first letter of its kind that has received such widespread support in Ohio. The letter states that the rise in anti-Chinese and anti-Asian violence and stigma demands urgent action from Ohio’s public officials, causing harm to immigrant and refugee communities while undermining critical public health efforts. “Throughout American history, we’ve seen immigrants and communities of color unfairly targeted in times of national crisis. We want Ohio to be on the right side of history,” said Tessa Xuan, Chair of Ohio Progressive Asian Women’s (OPAWL). “Our leaders need to actively combat racism against AAPI children and adults, many of whom are on the front line of the pandemic working in our hospitals, restaurants, and grocery stores. Ohioans of all races have come together to urge our state’s leaders to stand against racism as we all work to fight COVID-19. The health and wellbeing of all Ohioans and our future generations depends on it.”

   Silence from Ohio’s public officials allows racist rhetoric and violence to spread unchecked, making our communities less safe and undermining our collective efforts to address the rapidly evolving crisis. At least 350,000 Ohioans have Chinese, Asian, or Pacific Islander heritage. Only a small number of elected officials in Ohio have publicly spoken out against COVID-19 related racism. We hope this letter urges a wider response of solidarity against discrimination in our state.

The spread of racialized violence and stigma is likely to grow and worsen. Yesterday, the online reporting forum Stop AAPI Hate shared over 650 racist acts experienced by AAPIs over the last week. Ohioans need to hear public officials denounce the fear and stereotyping that divides us and embolden Ohioans to unite and face this crisis together. We need leadership grounded in truth and committed to openly opposing racism in any form.

Ohio Progressive Asian Women’s Leadership

Editor’s Note: Ohio Progressive Asian Women’s Leadership (OPAWL) is a grassroots community that organizes for social justice and elevates the voices, visibility, and progressive leadership of Asian, Asian American, and Pacific Islander (AAPI) women and non-binary people in Ohio.

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