Save the Kids Official Statement – Racist Propaganda During COVID-19 Pandemic

March 26, 2020

There is No Place for Racism & Inequities as We Grapple with COVID-19.

Save The Kids (STK) and its leadership team know well the upheaval and trauma the COVID-19 pandemic has caused worldwide. STK also knows that it is abhorrent, counterproductive and racist for President Donald Trump to unapologetically call COVID-19 the “Chinese virus,” the “kung-flu” or the “Wuhan virus,” which is what some Trump administration officials also have labeled it.

The U.S. President continues injecting racism into a still evolving public health crisis. Such comments are never justified and have only served to fuel a spike in anti-Asian violence and prejudice in the U.S. and worldwide. Asked why he keeps calling the COVID-19 the “Chinese virus,” the Associated Press reported on March 18 that Trump didn’t consider it a racist remark, although public health officials and scientists say there is no basis for the link. Ethnicity is not a factor, and the pandemic, which now is in 189 countries and territories and six continents, clearly respects no borders. Trump added that the term was his response to Chinese officials suggesting that the U.S. military might have introduced the virus to Wuhan, China, where it first surfaced in late 2019. Also, by calling the worldwide struggle against the virus “a war,” labeling himself “a wartime president” “facing a foreign enemy” and making racist, white nationalist and xenophobic statements, Trump is trying to turn the nation’s ire on China, which is absolutely wrong.

Such disgusting outbursts might sound like a bully in a schoolyard yelling snit if the outcome of the virus spreading because of wrongheaded leadership weren’t so devastating. Over a half million people worldwide have contracted COVID-19, claiming more than 23,000 lives and counting. Italy on March 19 surpassed China in the number of people the pandemic has killed. The unprecedented health emergency has caused stock markets worldwide to tank; forced the closure of restaurants, bars, casinos, sporting events and other venues where people gather; companies have shut down; and hundreds of thousands of workers face layoffs. Schools, colleges and universities also have responded quickly to the public health emergency, emphasizing “social distancing” and mandatory “stay at home orders” to try to curb the spread of the virus.

STK emphasizes that racism and inciting violence against Asians or any diasporic group should never be tolerated. Instead, government officials and business leaders urgently must focus on producing and distributing enough test kits, hospital masks, surgical gloves and breathing apparatus, such as ventilators, and creating more urban and rural hospital beds and intensive care units so that the world can be assured that people are getting the best possible treatment. As those with resources continue to hoard food and medical supplies, U.S. leadership continues to ignore what we could be doing instead: providing free high-quality health care access to the world’s populace. 

As educators, practitioners, and radical organizers we fight for the urgency attention and transformation of systems of hatred and exclusion which Trump and his allies are expediting through vitriol and orientalist fearmongering. If we are truly committed to cutting the death rate then it is incumbent to call out and uproot any vestiges of this type of colonial language from the COVID 19 public discourse.

In solidarity,

Arash Daneshzadeh
Director of Publications, Save the Kids
Editor, Transformative Justice Journal