Sorry Andrew Yang, I don’t need to prove anything to anyone


ABC News

Danielle Nares '21, Communications Co-Editor

In attempt to address the racism surrounding the novel coronavirus, former presidential candidate Andrew Yang proposed that Asian-Americans take a different approach to combatting discrimination. In his op-ed “We Asian Americans are not the virus, but we can be part of the cure,” Yang claimed that Asians must embrace their American identity to prove their loyalty to the country during the pandemic. As an Asian-American, I could not disagree more. 

Asians-Americans have faced much discrimination during these grim times. This unease and fear of possibly catching the virus from an Asian has manifested itself in forms of violence and harassment. According to Stop AAPI Hate, an online hate crime recording tool, the number of hate crimes against those of Asian heritage between March 19 and April 25 is reported to be 1,497. The website also allows individuals to file reports of harassment, and one woman reported that she was verbally abused when another woman directed the statement, “Get this corona virus chink away from me,” at her. The FBI also warns of the potential surge of crimes like these to come. While this number covers the major incidents, the number of small, yet equally as demeaning, interactions that go unrecorded are also high.

As a way to fight against racism, Andrew Yang writes, “We Asian Americans need to embrace and show our American-ness in ways we never have before.”

“We need to step up, help our neighbors, donate gear, vote, wear red, white and blue, volunteer, fund aid organizations, and do everything in our power to accelerate the end of this crisis,” continued Yang in his op-ed. “We would show without a shadow of a doubt that we are Americans who will do our part for our country in this time of need.” 

While I applaud him for using his platform to bring attention to the issue at hand, Yang’s approach is ridiculous and misguided.

Despite the fact that Yang is an Asian-American himself, I feel that he is inadvertently suggesting that our race is inherently less than other Americans. In other words, he asserts that we have not yet taken a fully “American” identity and for that reason, we need to do more than others to prove our American-ness. An American identity is taken on by an individual; it is not given to you by your neighbors. 

I will not change my ways so I can be accepted. I will not wear red, white, and blue to tell a fellow American that I, too, love my country. I know that I am American, and I do not have to flaunt my identity to prove it to anyone. Most importantly, I will not replace my “Asian-ness” with “American-ness” to prevent people from viewing me as a potential vector for the virus. 

Yang asserts that Asians must fix the racism directed towards us. Asian-Americans have to deal with this problem, but it should not be our job to fix it. The responsibility for fixing this problem should lie in the hands of the racists – not the victims. 

While having difficult discussions in-person is not an option during this time, we can accelerate this process by finding ways to prevent racism towards anyone in our communities.

One way that I believe that we can prevent racism is to get involved in community service. Yes, Andrew Yang does endorse actions like these in his article. However, he gets it wrong. This message should not be limited to Asian Americans; rather, it should be spread to all Americans who are able to participate in service.  Through service, we can get closer to those who are fighting the virus on the front lines and recognize that racism of any kind is inexcusable, especially when there are more life-altering problems that take precedence. 

Additionally, we can take the initiative to educate ourselves about the coronavirus to prevent assumptions. News articles and videos from credible sources are accessible online and can serve as a great resource for learning more, including the history of the virus, how it spread, and ways to prevent it. 

These difficult times put pressure on everyone, causing individuals to act in ways that may be inappropriate. Racist behavior, however, should not be unexcused, and targeted individuals should not change their ways to be accepted. Now, more than ever, it is important that our community grows closer to combat the virus, and overcoming racism is one of the most important ways to do so.