BLOOMINGTON, Ind.–Asian people have been victims of hostility and even violence in Indiana. Over the past year it may have had to do with blame for the coronavirus. Gov. Holcomb is being asked to publicly show support for Asian-American Hoosiers.
Dr. Ellen Wu is the director of the Asian-American Studies Program at IU. She said the most notorious incident of violence in the state in recent years happened in 1999.
“There was a Korean student at Indiana University who was unfortunately murdered by a white supremacist man who went on a shooting spree,” she said. Bloomington was just one of his stops.
But, in the last year several people have been, at the very least, disrespected because they were Asian, and because they were either being blamed for coronavirus or the incident at least had something to do with coronavirus. Wu said that follows patterns across the country.
“Some Americans have assumed or intentionally provoke this idea that people who look like they might be Chinese are to blame for the spread of the COVID-19 virus,” she said. Wu said terms like “China Virus” or “Kung Flu”, have served to inflame that idea.
LISTEN: Interview with Dr. Ellen Wu
“Yes, the virus originated in China. But, that’s a racist claim to assume that anybody that looks a certain way is carrying and spreading and responsible for this pandemic.”
Wu, in her capacity with the Indiana chapter of the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum, has asked Gov. Holcomb to show support for Asian-American Hoosiers by recognizing and condemning hate against Asian-Americans in Indiana, and to create an advisory council for direct communication between the state and Asian-Americans.
“The governor has responded when pressed by members of the media,” she said. “I think he has generally stated what is good to hear, that racism has no place in Indiana.” Wu said she would like to see the governor more directly address racism when it comes to Asians and Asian-Americans.
She stressed that it’s a local issue, not just a national one, citing four incidents over the past year:
Plymouth, Ind. – Kao Lor and Lee Lor, both of Hmong descent, were traveling through Indiana and tried to get a room at a Super 8 Motel. The Super 8 employee asked Lor if he was Chinese. When Lor asked why he needed to know the employee responded, the hotel workers explained that he had been told “anyone from China has be picked up and quarantined for two weeks.”
Chesterton, Ind. – Kui Gao, owner of Joy Wok Chinese-Thai restaurant, reported a 40%-50% drop in business as diners stayed away due to unfounded fears of catching COVID-19 from the food. Employees at Valparaiso’s China House restaurant and Hammond’s Hong Kong Kitchen noticed similar downturns.
Martinsville, Ind. – Dr. David Lee, a doctor who works with cancer patients, says he was berated and kicked out of an Indiana gas station by an employee using the coronavirus to discriminate against Asians.
Mooresville, Ind. – Bing Qiu was shopping at a grocery store when a woman in front of her at the check-out lane turned around and began chastising her, saying, “You Asian b****. What are you doing. Just because I don’t have a mask on doesn’t mean I need to get Corona from you.” She later said, “What the hell are you doing? You people are disrespecting us Americans.” No one else in the store came to Qiu’s defense.
Wu said anyone who wants to can sign the petition at https://www.napawf.org/indiana-anti-racism
She said you can also ask your local leaders to condemn violence and hostility toward Asian-Americans, which has already been done by cities like Indianapolis, through official action.
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