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Crime & Justice

Activists And Lawmakers Call On Texas Leaders To Condemn The Rise Of Racism Against Asian Communities

State Rep. Gene Wu delivers a speech on the House floor in 2017.
Martin do Nascimento
/
KUT
Texas state Rep. Gene Wu, a Democrat from Houston, delivers a speech on the House floor in 2017.

State Rep. Gene Wu has been warning politicians that using terms like “kung flu” and “China virus” to describe COVID-19 would lead to serious problems for Asian communities in the state.

“It’s meant to be derogatory,” said Wu, a Democrat from Houston who introduced a resolution Monday condemning the rise of anti-Asian racism in Texas. “It’s meant to be derisive. It’s meant to be mocking. And [Asian communities] know that this puts a target on our backs.”

Incidents of violence and harassment aimed at AAPI — or Asian American and Pacific Islander — communities have spiked during the pandemic. A national group monitoring violence and discrimination against AAPI communities logged almost 4,000 incidents from March 2020 to February of this year.

But calls to get Republican Sens. John Cornyn and Ted Cruz to stop blaming China for COVID-19 have gone unheeded, Wu said.

On Tuesday night, a gunman killed eight people in the Atlanta area. Six of the victims were women of Asian descent, raising suspicions of a hate crime.

“The Asian-American community was dreading this day and we were preparing for it. We were trying to convince people to stop using this language so that this day would not come sooner,” Wu told KUT. “I don’t want to say, ‘I told you so,’ but I am out of anything else to say.”

Lily Trieu, an activist with several AAPI groups in Austin, said news of the killings was devastating, but not surprising.

“There have definitely been some tears and grief and fear for my community,” she said.

Trieu said there have been incidents as close as San Antonio recently. She said state lawmakers should condemn what happened and support Wu’s resolution.

“We hope that that will lead to more consistent media coverage,” she said. “We hope that that will lead to increased solidarity among different communities of color, because this is not a problem that Asians can solve on our own.”

Wu said these conversations are long overdue.

“Even before the events of Georgia we have had more than enough to have a conversation,” he said. “I hope for the sake of my own sanity it didn’t take the mass murder of Asian Americans for us to properly have a conversation about this.”

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