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Science Societies Endorse Congressional Resolutions Denouncing Anti-Asian Racism

Fifty scientific and professional organizations, including AAAS, are supporting resolutions by four members of Congress condemning anti-Asian racism related to the coronavirus pandemic. | Wirestock/Adobe Stock

Fifty scientific and professional organizations have endorsed House and Senate resolutions in support of the contributions of individuals of Asian ancestry and condemning anti-Asian racism emerging from the coronavirus pandemic.

“Our societies have been concerned by news reports that individuals of Asian ancestry are increasingly subject to stigma, physical attack, or suspicion due to the potential origins of the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2,” stated a letter authored by the multi-society organizations, including the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and sent to the four sponsors of the House and Senate resolutions.

“These actions are wrong and unacceptable for their racial overtones, their impact on societies and individuals, and run counter to the core values of the scientific community and the members we represent,” the letter stated.

U.S. House Rep. Grace Meng, D-N.Y. has introduced a resolution, and Sens. Kamala Harris of California; Tammy Duckworth of Illinois, and Mazie Hirono of Hawaii are planning to introduce companion resolutions that urge public officials to denounce “anti-Asian sentiment, racism, discrimination and religious intolerance related to COVID-19.”

The resolutions also call on federal law enforcement authorities, in collaboration with state and federal officials, to investigate credible reports of hate crimes, incidents and threats against those in the Asian American community and to prosecute those responsible for such crimes.

This is time for the public “to come together to support each other,” said Association of American Universities member presidents and chancellors in a statement issued March 20. “Viruses have no nationality, no religion, no ethnicity, and no gender. As the leaders of America’s leading research universities, we ask all Americans to support each other as we deploy every tool at our disposal to protect our communities and fight this disease.”

“Associating the coronavirus with China or specific regions within China — for example, through references to the “China virus” or “Wuhan virus” — helps engender biases and xenophobia,” said the Asian American Psychological Association in a statement examining how to combat bias related to COVID-19.

The National Council of Asian Pacific Americans, a group of more than 450 civil rights, social justice and labor organizations, also spoke out against “anti-Asian racism around COVID-19” in a letter sent to the House and Senate on April 16.

Social scientists also have been examining the impacts of COVID-19 on hundreds of Chinese and Korean American families. Researcher Charissa Cheah, a psychologist at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, announced on March 5 that the National Science Foundation had granted her funding for research related to discrimination facing Chinese American families in the era of COVID-19.

The Science family of journals, published by AAAS, has published dozens of research papers, commentary and news articles about the science of COVID-19, how people are responding to the pandemic, and other related issues, all freely available. Several AAAS programs are also pivoting to COVID-19 work; related resources are available online.

The American Psychological Association has reported increased targeting, bullying in schools, and verbal and physical violence aimed at those considered to be Chinese, according to its resource on combating bias and stigma. The Asian Pacific Policy Planning Council fielded more than 100 such incident reports on March 25 from non-Chinese Asian Americans and women, according to a report.

The signatories of the multi-society letter to the four congressional leaders also stressed that the scientific research necessary to advance and help address the COVID-19 pandemic will require “sustained and growing research investment,” adding that it “is essential for solving today’s public health crisis and will be vital to preventing and managing future ones.”