CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - A racial undercurrent is here at home and across the nation as the coronavirus crisis plays out.
A local restaurant used the term “Chinese virus” in a social media post while offering a discount to first responders.
OCA Greater Cleveland Asian Pacific American Advocates denounces using this kind of language because they say it fuels anti-Asian discrimination.
Lisa Wong, the President Cleveland’s Asian Pacific American Advocates says “here's this restaurant trying to honor first responders and medical personal and it's a wonderful thing. But by saying Chinese virus you may be talking about China but what people in America are saying is that you must have a virus because you are Chinese.”
The attacks against Asian Americans are so widespread, lawmakers in Washington have drafted a resolution to condemn racially charged phrases like “Chinese virus,’ ‘Wuhan virus,’ and ‘Kung-flu' for fueling anti-Asian discrimination.
Representative Judy Chu of California’s 27th District recently spoke at community briefing speaking out against xenophobia related to COVID-19.
Chu said the discrimination has been building, “it started in January with the dirty looks the insults and misinformation and it’s escalated to spitting, yelling and physical attacks against Asian-Americans.”
There have been over 1,000 incidents of anti-Asian discrimination reported in the United States in recent weeks, according to Chu.
19 news is not going to name the restaurant owner who has since apologized.
He told 19 News he didn’t realize the impact:
“A few weeks ago, I posted a comment […. ] that created a firestorm of negative comments and threats towards me, my employees and business.
I am sorry for the hurt this social media post caused. I wanted to inform our customers that we would remain open as a carry-out business during the statewide restaurant “shutdown.”
I offered all first responders, including fire, police, medical personnel, EMS, and more, 50% off their orders, as a thank you for their service during this unprecedented time.
I also lamented the situation we all are facing and the struggles we will face from the “Chinese” virus.
My reference was to where the virus originated – and nothing more. I have since learned of the controversy surrounding this term and have read about Asian-American people being attacked and harassed in connection with the virus. I was trying to do a good thing for my business and my community, and that poor choice of words overshadowed all that.
Above all, I feel terrible that I offended people - people that I live, work and interact with daily. My comment has caused my employees and family to fear for their safety.
As I offer this apology, I implore the people I upset to please refrain from threats and hurtful statements in response – this was my mistake, not my employees’ or my family’s mistake. Please, let’s work together through these tough times. We need each other more than ever.”
Wong says that’s what the Asian American community wants the same thing but please stop saying “Chinese virus” when referring to COVID-19. Where a virus was first reported is not relevant as virus have have no borders and do not discriminate and neither should you.