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Racial Equity Advocacy Committee condemns use of ‘Chinese virus’

Calls on President Trump not to use ‘racist, unacceptable’ term for coronavirus

by Racial Equity Advocacy Committee | Special to Presbyterian News Service

LOUISVILLE — The Racial Equity Advocacy Committee is condemning President Donald Trump’s recent use of the term “Chinese virus” to describe the coronavirus, calling the president’s actions “racist and unacceptable.”

The committee also calls on the president to refrain from using the term anymore and to apologize “for the hurt and harm it has done to our Asian family members.”

According to its website, the committee “maintains a strong prophetic witness to the church as an advocate for people of color, monitoring existing and emerging issues in the church and society as they impact our constituent communities. Issues include, but are not limited to, civil rights, racial justice, economic justice, public education, law enforcement, health care, employment, housing, immigration rights and environmental justice.”

“We begin to recognize how God is in our lives when we do call out race privilege, racist nationalism, and the demonizing of one race,” the committee stated in its letter, published Wednesday. “We are called to combat racism by speaking up and speaking out when we encounter racial disparity in our community.”

The full text of the letter follows (boldface where indicated):

March 25, 2020

Peace Friends,

The Racial Equity Advocacy Committee (REAC) of the PC(USA) condemns the President of the United States for calling the coronavirus the “Chinese virus” and finds his actions to be racist and unacceptable. We therefore call on the President of the United States to immediately refrain from using the phrase “Chinese virus” and apologize for the hurt and harm it has done to our Asian family members. The President of the United States arrogantly describes the coronavirus as the “Chinese virus” knowing that it is a racist term and has hurt, harmed and placed in danger people of Asian descent.

Why is it that we accept differences in plants, animals, birds, and geography but will not accept differences in race? Why is race so demonized? Why do we allow members of our world family to be marginalized and oppressed because of their race? Why? Because we disobeyed God and not accepted the other as a member of God’s creation and as a result, we have allowed ourselves to accept divisive and exclusive language of the other.

We begin to recognize how God is in our lives when we do call out race privilege, racist nationalism, and the demonizing of one race. We are called to combat racism by speaking up and speaking out when we encounter racial disparity in our community. The practice of racism and the marginalization of God’s people is unacceptable.  Whether it’s in the church or in the government, racism is unacceptable.

The spread of the coronavirus threatens our world house. No one community is spared. It will take the collaborative unity of the world’s people to save lives.  As the African proverb tells us that “It takes a village to raise a child,” it will take the world’s people to realize God’s beloved community by eradicating this disease.

Friends, it is time we awaken from our nightmare and come together to make no more excuses about tolerating racism. Condemn the President’s remarks as racist.  Share your views and beliefs with others against the abhorrent behavior, or forever hold your peace. God said, “I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?” (Isaiah 43:19 NRSV).

Your partners in ministry, mission, and justice-seeking,

The Racial Equity Advocacy Committee


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