New York, NY – Clerical Administrative Local 1549 DC 37 recently issued a statement condemning violence directed at Asian Americans. The statement was written by President Eddie Rodriguez. It was passed unanimously by the local’s Board of Delegates on April 13.
The statement begins, “Local 1549 vehemently condemns attacks on Chinese and other Asian-Americans! Many of our members hail from Asian heritage and have worked in all titles and levels of AFSCME, DC 37, and Local 1549. The recent senseless attacks on Asian-Americans in New York City are an attack on us all.” The full version of the statement appears on the Local 1549 website.
The environment of hate now directed at the Asian community has been created by the same political leadership that has stirred up hate against all people of color, Muslims, and immigrants in recent years. The attacks on Asian people have the same roots in American history as the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Abrey. They are racist hate crimes by those who falsely believe the lies they are told about “others” not from the same background as themselves. Our systematic segregation in this country fortifies these false narratives.
Like African-Americans, Chinese-Americans have played an important role in building our country. While technically not slaves, they were treated as such toiling in the mines and building our railroad system in the West. They helped create the country’s wealth, while not sharing in its fruits. Asian-Americans work in nearly all industries. They are doctors and nurses in our hospitals and serve in our military and police forces. They, too, suffer workplace discrimination like other people of color and women.
Coronaviruses did not originate in China. These viruses have been around for well over a decade in other countries. Strains of the virus were found in China. The COVID-19 strain likely did originate in China and came to the West Coast. But in the East Coast the spread of COVID was from Europe — especially Italy. The viruses spread throughout the United States unchecked for too many months. Not because of Chinese-Americans, but because of failed leadership in Washington by a president who tried to lay blame on the Chinese rather than accept the blame himself. So, he stirred up hate against the Chinese just as he did against Black Lives Matter, Muslims, and immigrants and refugees from Mexico and Central America
We need national unity in this country to tackle and overcome COVID and our other economic problems. Falsely blaming Chinese-Americans and others for these problems is plain wrong and will make us weaker as a country.
Editor’s Note: Ralph Palladino is 2nd Vice President, Clerical Administrative Local 1549, DC 37.