Health Race

PSA Targets Increase in Asian-American Harassment Linked to Fears of COVID-19

A new public service announcement (PSA), released by the Advertising Council (Ad Council) and created by Emmy-award winning writer Alan Yang, aims to combat the increase in harassment against Asian-Americans during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the last three months, the Asian Pacific Policy and Planning Council, along with Chinese for Affirmative Action, have collected reports of over 2,100 incidents of harassment against Asian-Americans, including the use of racial slurs and threats, as well as instances of assault. The PSA was released as part of the Ad Council’s “Love Has No Labels” series, which has received awards and millions of views since its launch 5 years ago. It features a number of Asian-Americans discussing the racism they have experienced during COVID-19 and has been released along with an augmented reality (AR) filter to help viewers show their solidarity with the PSA’s message. Resources for combating racism have been uploaded to the Love Has No Labels website.

The PSA was created to counter what has been criticized as inaction by the federal government in response to the surge in harassment against Asian-Americans. After both the terrorist attacks of September 11th, 2001, and the outbreak of SARS in 2003, the federal government quickly worked to combat discrimination against a number of communities who were wrongfully blamed for the events.

No such action has been taken in response to the anti-Asian harassment brought about by COVID-19. While the FBI has released a memorandum to local law enforcement agencies, warning them that “hate crime incidents against Asian Americans likely will surge across the United States” due to COVID-19, they do not seem to have taken further steps to stop this harassment.

Many blame President Trump for the increase in anti-Asian rhetoric and harassment. President Trump has continuously referred to COVID-19 as the “China virus” and has called the virus “kung flu.” Although President Trump has since told reporters that the virus is not the fault of Asian-Americans in “any way, shape, or form,” as recently as yesterday he has continued to utilize the term “China virus” in his tweets.

Meanwhile, Asian-Americans face increasing levels of harassment. A Pew Research Survey found that 58% of Asian-Americans surveyed believed that the expression of racist and insensitive views about Asian people had increased since the pandemic began. A further 30% of respondents stated that they had experienced increased instances of racist jokes or slurs and 26% of respondents said that they feared being threatened or physically attacked because of their race.

Ad Council President and CEO Lisa Sherman stated that “At a time when hateful rhetoric and racially-fueled discrimination are plaguing the API community, it’s critical that we all play a role in dispelling the racist misconceptions and actions pervading our country….We hope this film will inspire Americans to rethink their biases and help put an end to the wave of racism facing the API community.”

Sources: New York Times 7/21/20; CBS News 7/2/20; NBC News 4/28/20; ABC News 3/27/20; Pew Research Center 7/1/20; Ad-Council 7/21/20