President Donald Trump in recent days has branded the new coronavirus the “Chinese virus,” a move many have condemned as racist and xenophobic.
Trump addressed that criticism Monday, saying at an afternoon press conference that, “it’s very important that we totally protect our Asian American community in the United States and all around the world. They’re amazing people and the spreading of the virus is not their fault in any way, shape, or form.”
But Illinois state Rep. Theresa Mah (D-Chicago) says she’s hearing from constituents who are afraid of racist repercussions because of Trump’s comments.
“A lot of them are expressing concern about being the victims of violence or harassment because of the way that mainly the president has been calling the disease the ‘Chinese virus,’” Mah said. “I’ve also heard from a constituent that they were the subject of glares because they were wearing a mask and they were out in public. So it is close to home.”
Mah says she encourages anyone who is a victim of harassment to call the police immediately. She says there’s an ongoing effort by Asian American communities across the country to make sure that hate crimes are reported.
“This is happening. It’s not something that’s made up,” Mah said. “It’s real.”