Politicians, journalists, celebrities call out racist remarks against Asians

"We cannot tolerate this kind of racism — especially at this moment," Bernie Sanders said.
Image: Drive Through Coronavirus Testing Site Opens In Arlington, VA
Jessica Mendoza, a Virginia Hospital Center outpatient lab specialist, and James Meenan, director of the hospital's outpatient lab, prepare to open a drive-through coronavirus testing site on Wednesday in Arlington, Va.Drew Angerer / Getty Images

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By Natasha Roy

As President Donald Trump continues to refer to the "Chinese Virus," people across media, politics, academia and more are coming together to condemn racism against Asians.

Trump and other Republican lawmakers have persisted in using such phrases, saying many news outlets did the same in the early stages of the outbreak, despite subsequent guidance from the World Health Organization that viruses should not be named after locations to avoid stigmatization.

At a news conference Wednesday, Trump denied that such phrases were derogatory.

"It’s not racist at all, no," Trump said. "Not at all. It comes from China. That’s why. I want to be accurate.”

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Presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden rejected the president's explanation, telling him on Wednesday to stop "xenophobic fear-mongering."

Fellow presidential candidate, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., also said that Trump and his allies are stoking anti-Chinese bigotry in response to the pandemic.

"We cannot tolerate this kind of racism — especially at this moment," Sanders wrote on Twitter. "This crisis requires our political leadership to unite our country, not divide us up."

On March 17, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., wrote on Twitter that "Bigotry against people of Asian descent is unacceptable, un-American, & harmful to our COVID-19 response efforts."

“This morning a White House official referred to #Coronavirus as the “Kung-Flu” to my face,” CBS News White House correspondent Weijia Jiang tweeted March 17. “Makes me wonder what they’re calling it behind my back.”

The Asian American Journalists Association tweeted its support of Jiang.

Other scholars, activists and local politicians have also voiced their support for the Asian American community.

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Organized campaigns are also working to fight against coronavirus-related racism. The Asian American communications agency IW Group teamed up with "Mulan" actor Tzi Ma and Opening Ceremony founders Carol Lim and Humberto Leon to launch the #WashTheHate social media campaign. The campaign is meant to heighten awareness around racial insensitivity.

“We couldn't sit idly by knowing we had the resources and the opportunity to make a difference,” Telly Wong, IW Group Chief Content Officer, told NBC Asian America in an email.

As part of the campaign, "Wu Assassins" actress Celia Au tweeted a video of herself washing her hands according to CDC guidelines while speaking out against racism.

"Guys, during times like this, it's not a time to be a racist or discriminate," Au said. "Because guess what? The virus definitely doesn't."