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I cried multiple times since it happened. In the shower. In the middle of my work day. I’ve been trying to find the right words to express my anger and hurt from the president’s careless rhetoric.

The decision to call COVID-19 the "Chinese Virus" posed a threat to every Asian person living in the U.S.

"But didn’t the virus originate in China? It’s not racist if it’s true."

The issue isn’t a matter of accuracy, origin, or even racism. The issue is either:

A) A president who didn’t have the emotional intelligence to realize the dangerous consequences for Asian Americans.


B) A president who acknowledged the risks and deprioritized the safety of Asian-Americans in the name of holding the Chinese government accountable.

If it was the latter, then it was a strategy to offload blame from our administration onto a foreign entity — one that came at the cost of implicating anyone here who looks Asian.

My frustration is about something simpler than foreign policy. It’s about the power of words, and why even in the wake of a deadly pandemic, some of us are being sticklers about the name of a virus.

It’s because some of us can be harmed by words, too.

As hate crimes against the Asian-American community surged, the president perpetuated xenophobic thinking, even if that wasn’t his intention.

The danger of people who "don’t look like us." People who "don’t look American."

To those who don’t believe this is an issue: Do you have skin in the game?

Have you ever felt endangered because of the way you look or the sound of your last name?

Is there anything a president could say to make you fear for the safety of yourself and your family because of your appearances?

My dad has dark tan skin and black hair. He was a refugee during the Cambodian Genocide in the late 1970s, where his entire family was displaced and some 2 million people lost their lives. After resettling in the U.S., he worked multiple minimum wage jobs and still found time to sketch "Sailor Moon" drawings for his children.

He went on to become an American entrepreneur, running a successful Chinese restaurant in Marysville for 18 years before retiring with grease burns along the length of his arms.

We are dealing with a president who speaks and tweets without considering the gravity of his words. Words that shape how we treat the most vulnerable members of society in the midst of a global pandemic.

I’m asking allies of the Asian-American community to stand with me against the president's unacceptable behavior and his track record for speaking lightly about heavy topics.

We deserve a president who leads with compassion. We deserve a leader who protects all Americans.

This president does not speak for rural America where my family was shown kindness in a predominantly conservative and white community.

This president does not speak for people who know what it’s like to run the harder race because of our ancestry.

This president does not speak for me.

In times like this, it’s not possible to create peace overnight. Peace will come if we take the right steps in this long road ahead. What we can create now is solidarity.

Connie Chan graduated from Marysville High School in 2010 and is now a writer living in Austin, Texas.