Vice President Kamala Harris
stated that Asian Americans
, who have experienced an increase in anti-Asian racism
in the last year, have the "right to be recognized as Americans, not as the other."
Harris, in a speech for the virtual Asian Pacific American Heritage Month
Unity Summit on Wednesday, condemned the rise in racist
attacks on Asian Americans since early 2020, which she attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic
“I know this past year has been marked by pain... when we saw the targeting, hate, and viciousness of it all,” said Harris, the first Asian American and Black vice president. “As a member of this community, I share in that outrage and grief.”
Hate, a coalition of Asian American advocacy groups, recorded 6,600 reports of racist violence against Asian Americans from March 2020 to March 2021, with people reporting being targeted with racial slurs, spat on, and physically assaulted. Women accounted for nearly two-thirds of those reporting attacks.
“Asian Americans have the right to be recognized as Americans, not as the other, not as ‘them,’ but as ‘us,’” Harris said at a progressive AAPI Victory Alliance event on Wednesday.
Harris on the yearlong increase in anti-Asian violence
: "As a member of this community, I share in that outrage and grief, and I believe we now have an opportunity to turn that pain into action" and power pic.twitter.com/WhegjKr8eP— Andrew Peng (@TheAPJournalist) May 19, 2021
Harris praised President Joe Biden
's expected signature of the COVID-19 Hate Crimes
Act, legislation from Rep. Grace Meng (D-NY) and Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) that would seek to expedite the review of COVID-19-related hate crimes and improve how people report such incidents. However, some Asian American groups have expressed concern that by focusing on hate crimes, the bill does not address the issue of hate crimes in general.
In response to the rise in anti-Asian hatred, the vice president urged people to "turn that pain, that righteous anger" into power.
Harris noted that Asian Americans disproportionately vote by mail-in ballot, citing hundreds of bills introduced at the state level by Republicans
to restrict voting rights
, including voting by mail.
“We must fight those attacks,” Harris said, adding, “We must recognize these efforts for what they are... an attempt to suppress the right to vote.”
Harris then urged senators to support the For The People Act
, which had already been passed by the Democratic-led House
and would override Republicans' voter suppression
efforts, including mandating that states offer no-excuse absentee voting.