The National Health Law Program, an organization that defends the health care rights of all individuals, strongly condemns the injustices that continue to take place in our country during these times of particular vulnerability. We are appalled about the violent attacks against Asian American populations during the public health emergency and denounce those who engage in these hate crimes or sit idly by when they occur.
Even as we continue to focus on the disproportionate impact of COVID on Black, Indigenous, and People of Color, a series of recent interconnected events demonstrates that racism persists in the U.S. Just in the past months, we have borne witness to attacks on multiple Asian Americans and individuals of Asian descent around the country. We continue to affirm that Black, Indigenous, and People of Color, including Asian Americans, should not have to fear for their lives when going about their daily activities, whether going for a walk, grocery shopping, or riding the subway. We condemn this ongoing brutality perpetrated against Asian Americans, and stand in support of our Asian American staff, partners, and communities.
The recent incidents of anti-Asian American violence are a painful echo of the long, shameful history of discrimination against people of Asian descent in our country that includes the Chinese Exclusion Act, U.S. colonization and occupation of several countries in Asia and the Pacific, the incarceration of Japanese Americans in camps during World War II, and an uptick in anti-Asian American violence during the SARS outbreak in 2003.
We are an organization committed to the value of individuals of all identities and backgrounds, but we continue to acknowledge that we too have been shaped by the historical and structural racism that has benefited whites over everyone else, including Asian Americans. At NHeLP, we are doing our best to correct these inequalities, internally and externally, and we call on others to do the same. As we state in our equity stance, NHeLP believes that peoples’ characteristics and circumstances should not result in violence or death. Yet no matter where we go, racism — historical, structural, and governmental — pervades our society.
We must all do better.