Add your name in support to the community letter demanding Senator Mike Shirkey issue an apology for his racist, anti-Asian public remarks.

DETROIT, MICHIGAN (1/21/21) - We call for Michigan Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey (R - district 16) to issue an apology for his racist remarks about COVID-19 and meet with Michigan Asian American community leaders.

On Sunday, January 18th, Republican Michigan Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey appeared on a local program on Jackson Television, “The Bart Hawley Show”. There he described his recent bout with COVID-19, using racist language describing it as the “Chinese flu.”

While we may be at the start of a new administration, racism certainly didn’t disappear overnight. We are, as State Senator Stephanie Chang stated, “are tired of having to repeatedly inform people of how harmful this kind of language — especially from elected officials — is to the community.” The terms “Chinese flu”, “Wuhan virus” and “kung flu” have justified and incited racist assaults against Asian Americans in the United States during the pandemic, targeting persons regardless of the victim’s national origins. The term scapegoats Asians, stoking xenophobia and fueling both verbal and physical violence. The incidence of anti-Asian hate crimes rose over the last year, with over 2,500 incidents reported in just 6 months.

State Senator Jim Ananich wrote, “Racist jokes about the pandemic (or anything at all) aren’t cute or funny. Nearly 15 thousand Michiganders are dead from it. I’m not laughing.” The United States has reached a grim milestone of over 400,000 deaths due to COVID-19. A disproportionate number of those are Filipino and other Asian American front line healthcare workers, bearing the double burdens of both racist assaults and the pandemic, along with working class and poor Black and Brown folks. It shows the utmost disrespect for those who have lost their lives for Sen. Shirkey to refuse to acknowledge the real failures of the United States’ COVID-19 response in service of this racist garbage.

Regardless of whether you are Black, Brown, White, or Asian American, we all want to get through this pandemic and come out better on the other side. Sen. Shirkey’s language sets Asian Americans apart and tries to place the blame for this pandemic on China. We know that name calling and placing blame are tools to distract from real accountability for the fact that many lives could have been saved had Republicans not made this pandemic a partisan issue. We call on Sen. Shirkey to apologize and get to work on a just COVID-19 response that includes all of us.
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