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‘Say something:’ On their visit to Atlanta, Biden and Harris both denounced racism.



‘Say something:' On their visit to Atlanta, Biden and Harris both denounced racism.
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‘Say something:' On their visit to Atlanta, Biden and Harris both denounced racism.

‘Say something:’ On their visit to Atlanta, Biden and Harris both denounced racism.


As they visited Atlanta just days after a white gunman killed eight people, the majority of whom were Asian American women, President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris gave solace to Asian Americans and condemned the scourge of racism that is often concealed “in plain sight.”

Biden told the nation after an 80-minute meeting with Asian American state legislators and other leaders on Friday that listening to their tales of terror among Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders amid a “skyrocketing rise” of abuse and violence against them was “heart-wrenching.”

He said, “We must change our hearts.” “Hate cannot find a safe haven in America.”

“Our silence is complicity,” Biden said, urging all Americans to speak out against bigotry when they see it. We can’t be complicit in this.”

During the coronavirus pandemic, Asian Americans were targeted, blamed, scapegoated, and harassed; they were verbally abused, physically assaulted, and killed, according to Biden.

The president also characterized the shootings as a “public health epidemic of gun violence in this country,” as his administration has been chastised by some members of his own party for not acting fast enough on gun control.

Although the motive of the shooter is still being investigated, Harris, the first person of South Asian descent to hold national office, stated that the following facts are clear: Six of the eight people killed were Asian, and seven of them were female.

“Racism is alive and well in the United States of America. It’s always been that way. Xenophobia is and has always been a problem in America. “There’s sexism, too,” she said. “Neither the president nor I will remain silent. We will not stay quiet. Wherever and wherever it happens, we will always speak out against abuse, hate crimes, and discrimination.”

“Everyone has the right to be remembered as an American,” she said. Not like the others, and certainly not like them. However, as for us.”

Biden declared his support for the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act before leaving Washington, a bill that would increase the government’s monitoring and response to hate crimes while also providing services to Asian American communities.

“We didn’t really talk about hate crime sentencing and all of these stuff there’s been a lot of conversation around,” Georgia state Rep. Marvin Lim said of a group of Asian American leaders who met with Biden and Harris in Atlanta.

“We also spoke about the grief people are going through, the anxiety people are going through, and the potential responses to that,” Lim said. “The conversation was very reassuring.”

Sen. Michelle Au, a Chinese American Democrat who represents parts of Atlanta’s northern suburbs, was moved by Harris’ presence, saying, “Not just that she was there listening to us, but that she really knew these problems in a very personal way, that in certain respects you can’t teach, that you can’t teach that kind of lived experience.” As a result, we believed she would be an excellent voice for us in the White House.”

Their travel had been scheduled ahead of time as part of a victory lap to highlight the benefits of pandemic relief legislation. Biden and Harris, on the other hand, spent most of their visit consoling a population whose growing voting strength helped them win in Georgia and elsewhere.

Racist attacks have increased, according to activists. Since March 2020, Stop AAPI Hate, a California-based reporting center for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, and its affiliate advocacy groups have received nearly 3,800 reports.

Former President Donald Trump, who has consistently referred to COVID-19 as the “China virus,” was implicitly chastised by Biden and Harris.

“We’ve had people in positions of enormous influence scapegoating Asian Americans for the last year,” Harris said, “people with the biggest pulpits spreading this kind of hate.”

“Words have always had consequences,” Biden said. “It’s known as the ‘coronavirus.’ “End of story.”

Last Thursday, five days before the Atlanta killings at three massage parlors, Biden gave his first primetime address to the nation as president, calling attacks on Asian Americans “un-American.”

Biden also took a tour of the CDC’s headquarters, where he was briefed on the status of the COVID-19 pandemic and gave a pep talk to the agency’s scientists.

“We owe you a massive debt of gratitude, and we will for a long, long time,” Biden said, adding that “science is back” in guiding policy to fight the virus under his administration.

Despite the fact that Biden’s scheduled political event to support the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill was postponed, he met with Georgia voting rights advocate Stacey Abrams, the Democrats’ likely governor nominee in 2022, while Republicans in the state legislature pursue multiple measures to make voting in the state more difficult.

Biden said, “The battle for the right to vote is never, ever over.” “It isn’t happening over here in Georgia. So we’re going to fight once more.”

He also met with Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and newly elected Democratic Senators Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock.

Asian Americans are gaining political clout around the country as the fastest-growing ethnic group in the electorate. With their congressional wins in California, two Korean American Republican women made history. The Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, which is usually dominated by Democrats, now has the most members it has ever had, including Asian American and Pacific Islander members as well as others who serve large numbers of Asian Americans.

“We’re becoming more visible and active in the political ecosystem,” said Au, a Democrat who represents a part of Atlanta’s developing and diversifying suburbs. “What I’ve heard personally, and what I’ve felt, is that people don’t always tend to listen to us,” Au said.

Au said a White House spotlight is welcomed by a culture that is often ignored in national debates about diversity, particularly in the wake of tragedy. She pointed out that when Trump and other Republicans called the coronavirus the “China virus” because of its roots, they were just brushing off accusations of prejudice.

“To have them speak about it in such a public way, and to tell AAPI, or to acknowledge that our societies are going through tough times, is huge,” Au said.

Biden, who was wearing a mask when he boarded Air Force One on Friday morning, staggered several times up the stairs to the plane before saluting the military officer who greeted him on the tarmac. Biden was “doing 100 percent fine,” according to Jean-Pierre.

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