It's time for change, and some Hollywood elite are leading the charge. In a year ravaged by the COVID-19 pandemic and a polarizing presidential election, it's more important than ever for those with big platforms to step up to the plate and speak out on key issues. After an increase in reports of xenophobic behavior toward Asian Americans due to racist misconceptions about the coronavirus, these celebrities are speaking out against anti-Asian attacks and refusing to be passive in the fight against racism.
After a Jan. 31 physical attack on a 91-year-old Asian man was caught on-camera in Los Angeles, two actors, Daniel Dae Kim and Daniel Wu, offered a monetary reward for the man's arrest. The suspect was identified and arrested on Feb. 1, but not before the incident grabbed the attention of people all around the country, making them aware of the rising number of hate crimes targeting Asian Americans happening every day.
Now, celebrities are speaking out. Teen Wolf's Arden Cho shared a lengthy message to Instagram on Feb 11 slamming those who link the coronavirus to Asian Americans, noting that anti-Asian remarks and attacks existed long before the pandemic arrived.
"This racism is not new," she wrote. "It’s just rarely covered in media, constantly overlooked & now it’s become normalized. I’m sick of people looking at us as if WE are the cause of Covid. I’m tired of racist remarks & comments. I’ve experienced it for 35 years. Asian Americans have been in this country since the 1800’s, working hard & contributing to society without publicly voicing their struggles along the way."
Singer-songwriter and former Disney star Ryan McCartan responded to Cho's post with a message of support. "I never forgot our conversation about this at lunch on set of Freakish. I cite you often in conversations about race. Thanks for speaking out then and now. So much respect for you," he commented.
Actress Gemma Chan shared a clip of the hate crime to Instagram on Feb. 7, urging fans to pay attention to the world around them, and take the violent video as a sign we need to do better. "This is difficult to watch but this is a plea for help. Hate crimes against Asians and Asian Americans have skyrocketed. The community is in pain from these completely unprovoked attacks but the crimes are too often ignored and underreported," she said in one part of her caption.
When Chan noticed some followers leaving anti-black comments on her post, she shared yet another message, urging everyone to focus on unity rather than division.
Olivia Munn also shared a message to Instagram on Feb. 10 about the increase in anti-Asian hate crimes. The actress said the hate she's seen recently has left her at "a loss for words."
Tennis player Naomi Osaka tweeted about the issue on Feb. 6, deeming it "disgusting." The amount of hate, racism, and blame for COVID towards the Asian community is disgusting," Osaka tweeted. "The fact that this topic is not very widely covered makes me concerned. I only found videos and information because I was scrolling through my IG feed and by some algorithm it appeared."
When Crazy Rich Asians star Awkwafina spoke at the 2020 Massachusetts Conferences for Women in December (long before the recent attacks that spurred wider-spread outrage), she shared a similar sentiment.
“During the first couple of weeks [of the pandemic] I was yelled ‘Covid!’ I was yelled 'Ch*nk.' Obviously, that is founded in ignorance and stupidity, driven by misplaced hatred. For me, I don’t think there is room for any of that … I hope we can gain some form of understanding as people because we have a lot of problems right now.”
Cardi B previously spoke candidly about the hatred she's noticed online since the pandemic started and encouraged fans to stop using social media as punching bag.
"I want to let you guys know... Let's stop being xenophobic, let's stop saying f*cked up jokes, let's stop having crazy anger because I've been seeing a lot of Asians get beat up," she said on Instagram Live in March 2020. "At this moment in life, for once, let's all be one race," she said. "Because at the end of the day, in the eyes of God, we are all one."
Mark Ruffalo also slammed those linking coronavirus to Asian people, specifically condemning Donald Trump.
"Dear @realdonaldtrump," Ruffalo tweeted in March 2020. "When you blame a virus on an entire race of people, you turn people against them. When you make these unscientific political statements, some of your followers begin to act violently and in exclusionary, xenophobic ways against these people."
That same month, Karrueche Tran shared an important message, calling for her followers to be politically correct when addressing the coronavirus.
"The coronavirus is not 'the Chinese virus'! Let's stop instilling more fear and hate," she wrote. "The world is struggling enough as it is."
Racism should never be tolerated, but after it continuously reared its ugly head amid the pandemic, these stars condemning anti-Asian racism are moving the conversation in the right direction.