[BLOCKED] Mandarin version/中文翻译 on WeChat
“Can you help us file for unemployment? Your dad and I can’t figure out all this complicated English paperwork,” my mom implored me in Mandarin.
It was March 2020, and I had just returned home to Texas indefinitely from college due to COVID-19. In addition to taking a full-time courseload, I was working thirty hours a week to foot the bills as the only person in my family still with a job, taking care of my grandma, who lives with us and has serious lung health issues but can’t afford health insurance, and helping my parents file for unemployment and apply for new jobs.
The Chinatown in Texas where my parents worked had, like other Chinatowns across the nation, become a ghost town. The parking lots where customers once fought over parking spaces were now ominously empty. As people avoided Chinese American-owned and-employed supermarkets, restaurants, and cafés, businesses shuttered and multitudes of employees, including my parents, were laid off.
Manhattan Chinatown's Pell Street, once lively and bustling, now a desolate ghost town
At the time, the Trump administration had just begun calling COVID-19 the “Chinese virus” and “kung flu.” Meanwhile, on a more local scale, Texas’s Republican senators Ted Cruz and John Cornyn both were busy blaming China, Chinese people, and even Chinese culture for the pandemic to distract from Trump and the GOP’s complete and utter mishandling of the pandemic. The Texas GOP is not alone in invoking hate and abuse against Chinese Americans and their businesses in their state, like the Chinatown in my own hometown. Similarly, other Republican politicians—including Senator Tom Cotton; Representative Paul Gosar; the House minority leader, Kevin McCarthy; and the secretary of state, Mike Pompeo—continued to use racist rhetoric like “Wuhan virus,” even after the CDC had denounced such language as inaccurate and racist. In just one month, Trump and other Republicans’ stoking of anti-Chinese racism resulted in over 1,500 hate crimes against Asian Americans—from an Asian American family in Texas being stabbed while grocery shopping to an Asian American high schooler in California beat up so badly that he ended up in the emergency room.
Not only have we experienced attacks on our businesses and livelihoods, but we have also experienced attacks to our bodies due to the anti-Chinese violence incited by Republican politicians on a local, state, and national level. Most of the GOP has even refused to acknowledge our suffering at the hands of their racism; 164 members of Congress—all Republican—voted against the legislation declaring that anti-Asian racism is wrong. Despite the Republicans’ claims that they were allegedly targeting the Chinese government, there is no denying that the Trump administration and other GOP politicians' racist, warmongering language and scapegoating has racialized the coronavirus and turned us—Chinese Americans and anyone who looks Chinese—into the enemy in what Trump has deemed “our war against the Chinese virus.” In fact, a UN report found that Trump has legitimized the anti-Asian hate crimes against us.
"COVID Survivors for Change" set up empty chairs in front of the White House to represent the 225,000 Americans (and counting) who have died due to COVID-19 as a result of the Trump administration and other Republicans' gross negligence and incompetence.
Beyond their perpetration of anti-Chinese and anti-Asian racism, the Trump administration and Republican state and local leaders have cost over twenty-five million Americans—including my parents—their jobs, and over eight million Americans have contracted coronavirus or died from it, due to the GOP’s disbelief in science, inaction, and outright counterproductive actions in response to COVID-19. Although Americans only make up 4 percent of the world’s population, they make up nearly a quarter of the world’s confirmed COVID-19 cases and deaths.
The Trump administration and their more local Republican counterparts have absolutely no excuse for this level of failure. They—unlike the leaders of many other countries—had a frankly luxurious amount of time, ample warning, scientific expertise, medical might, and a plethora of resources to prepare for and control the pandemic, but they wasted every opportunity to do so and continue to ignore scientific proof of its dangers. Republican politicians realize that they have completely and utterly failed, but they refuse to learn from their mistakes. Even after contracting COVID-19 himself, Trump took off his mask, going against all experts’ advice and setting a dangerous example for Americans to follow, and declared that we should not “let [coronavirus] dominate your life.” Yes, Mr. President, tell that to the tens of millions of us who are dying, facing homelessness, and struggling to feed our families due to the incompetence of you and your fellow Republican leaders.
Some may argue that the Trump administration and other Republicans are “better for the economy,” but the fact is: our economy is the worst it has ever been since the Great Depression as a result of the GOP’s inability to control the coronavirus. In stark contrast to the GOP’s false claims that the economy is quickly recovering, the most recent jobs reports indicate that economic recovery is slowing and that millions of jobs temporarily lost during the pandemic are now permanently lost. Additionally, because most Americans get their health insurance through their job, millions have lost their health insurance in the epicenter and at the height of a global pandemic. With fully open businesses still seeing sharp declines in revenue because consumers fear contracting coronavirus, the evidence is clear: until COVID-19 is under control, the economy will not recover. However, as demonstrated by the fact that Trump is hosting huge in-person rallies—confirmed public health hazards—and refusing to negotiate a desperately needed COVID-19 relief bill until after elections, Trump selfishly cares more about keeping the presidency than about helping the American people he swore to serve.
Over the seven months and counting since the pandemic has taken over our lives, over two hundred thousand Americans have died due to COVID-19; over eight million Americans have contracted COVID-19; and over twenty-five million Americans, including my parents, have lost their jobs. Yet in spite of the tens of millions of families and communities—many of them Chinese American—that have been fractured by the current administration’s negligence and mismanagement, Trump and other Republican politicians can think of no better response than scapegoating Chinese people and inciting further hate and violence against us. Is this really the United States we risked everything for?
Even though 2020 has been filled with bad news, one piece of good news is that we have the power to vote out the politicians who have harmed us so willfully. Don’t turn a blind eye to the blood on the hands of Trump and other Republicans—on a national, state, and local level—who have cost us our jobs and our lives. While the Trump administration and other Republicans are wasting their time stoking anti-Chinese racism and denying science instead of productively responding to COVID-19, Biden and other Democrats understand the severity of this pandemic. Instead of relying on politicians and corporate executives with no scientific expertise when crafting COVID-19 policy as Trump and GOP officials have, Biden and his Democratic counterparts on the state and local level listen to public health professionals. These are the minimum standards of competency we need in order to halt the climbing death toll, plummeting economy, and growing anti-Asian hate crimes that have devastated our lives.
I will admit that I have little love for any politician, and I do not completely agree with Biden or many of the Democratic candidates down the ballot. But the scale of the problems facing us today—and the number of lives that have been needlessly cut short by the incompetence Republican municipal, state, and national administrations have demonstrated—mean that the outcome of this election will determine how many more family members we lose, how many more of us become homeless and go hungry, how much of a future your children and grandchildren have. If we (falsely) believe “my vote doesn’t matter,” we enable Trump and the other GOP politicians who have clearly shown that they are unable to put an end to the pandemic to stay in power. Even in non-swing states, your vote matters in deciding who runs your state and local governments, which determine your community’s response to COVID-19.
Choosing not to vote—or even choosing only to vote for the office of the president while ignoring local and state candidates on the ballot—doesn't exempt you from these consequences; it simply means giving up your chance to facilitate an end to the trials of the past seven months. Put simply: another four years under the Trump administration and Republican state and local politicians who do not believe in public health or care enough to provide jobs and healthcare during a pandemic may, quite literally, kill us.
I am voting blue up and down the ballot so that my parents and millions of other unemployed Americans will have jobs again, everyone from my immunocompromised but uninsured grandma to you—the reader—can safely leave our homes without the very real risk of losing our life to a virus the Republican leaders have proven they can’t control, and we Chinese Americans don’t continue to be attacked in the streets due to the GOP’s legitimization of racist scapegoating. Our lives, our jobs, and our futures are on the line this election. Make a plan (it is safe to vote by mail), and join me in voting blue up and down the ballot.
This article is part of the series “Why We’re Voting Blue and Why, as a Fellow Chinese American, You Should Too.” This series by young Chinese Americans is about what is at stake this election in their eyes and how they are voting in 2020, with each article exploring a different reason why. The WeChat Project is not involved with or endorsed by the Biden campaign or any other group related to the Democratic Party. All views are strictly those of the writers themselves. Read the other articles in our series here.